Cocktails & Conversation is a series of dialogues about design that joins an architect with a critic, journalist, curator, or architectural historian to discuss current architecture design issues. Each program includes a custom-crafted cocktail—one inspired by the architect’s work and created especially for this event.

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, is a practicing architect in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and serves as the E. Fay Jones Distinguished Professor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. Work produced in his professional office, Marlon Blackwell Architects (MBA), has received national and international recognition with significant publication in books, architectural journals and magazines and more than 160 design awards. MBA received the 2016 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture and ranked #1 in Design as part of the 2016 Architect 50. In recognition of his substantial contributions to design, Marlon was a Resident of the American Academy in Rome in 2019, inducted into the National Academy of Design in 2018, and selected as a United States Artists Ford Fellow in 2014. He received the E. Fay Jones Gold Medal from the Arkansas AIA in 2017 and the 2012 Architecture Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A monograph of his early work, “An Architecture of the Ozarks: The Works of Marlon Blackwell”, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2005. He was selected by The International Design Magazine, in 2006, as one of the ID Forty: Undersung Heroes and as an “Emerging Voice” in 1998 by the Architectural League of New York.

Billie Tsien, AIA, along with her partner, Tod Williams, FAIA, established their firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners in 1986. Their New York based practice is founded on reflecting the values of non-profit, cultural and academic institutions toward an architecture of permanence and enduring vision. Some of their notable projects include the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the Lefrak Center in Prospect Park, and they are currently designing The Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. Their dedication to this work has been recognized by numerous national and international citations including the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama, the 2013 AIA Architecture Firm Award, and the 2019 Praemium Imperiale in Architecture presented by the Japan Art Association. In parallel with her practice, Billie currently teaches at Yale University and is the President of the Academy of Arts and Letters. As both an educator and practitioner, she is deeply committed to making a better world through architecture.