Founded by architects Mack Scogin and Merrill Ellam, this husband-wife duo strongly believes in creative collaboration and intellectual desire as the foundation of their venture. In an interview, Mack said that “Only when collaborators are truly fascinated by each other’s capabilities, can they achieve success”. From single-family houses to corporate and commercial structures to public institutional and pro bono projects, this firm has spread its wings across numerous fields and is known for its modernist architecture. Their work is usually far from generic and often described as ‘extreme’ or ‘unusually extroverted’, although paradoxically peaceful.
So, join me as we glance through just a handful, amongst the countless masterpieces built by this power couple, to better understand their style!
1. Museum of the Second World War International Competition, Gdansk, Poland
This museum is designed to bring forth a contrasting experience between the conditions of war and peace, in an attempt to mirror the feelings of contemplation and contradiction that the war caused among millions of people. This dichotomy is shown through a forested expanse, with trees so tall they seemingly reach the sky; in contrast to an architectural enclosure that defines the horizon. This enclosure is the museum whose loud, jagged form and magnitude allude to the nature of the war.
2. Yale Health Centre, New Haven, Connecticut
Like most of their buildings, the Yale Health Centre is anything but mainstream. In both plan and elevation, its form shows curves and soft edges with uneven and undulating shading devices. It has a distinct central transportation core as well as horizontal cuts and light wells allowing ample daylight, thus proving to be an efficiently designed medical facility. To top it off, the building has also received the LEED gold certification.
3. United States Courthouse, Austin, Texas
With an intricate, geometrically cuboid, and highly compact form, the view of this Courthouse building is a treat to sore eyes. The stability of the form symbolizes the strength and unity of the judicial system.
4. Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library, Berkeley, California
The Jean Grey Hargrove Music Library of UC Berkeley, that cherishes the most extensive public collection of original scores, rare manuscripts, and regional music, originally started as a floor in a classroom building back in 1947. More than 50 years later it was renovated into a new music library in the ‘Arts Quadrangle’ of the university by Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam Architects.
5. John J Ross William C Blakely Law Library, Temple, Arizona
The forms and spaces of this library are arranged around its functioning; the technical services, circulation, and different types of collections of books. The interior and exterior spaces are strategically designed to moderate Arizona’s intense sunlight.
6. Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture, Columbus, Ohio
The school is designed with the belief that architecture is best taught through example; the form and placement of the building are in a way that allows it to interact with its surroundings and community. Along with sculpted green spaces and pedestrian paths, the school has well-designed studios that overlook neighboring urban spaces that the students would study and eventually design.
7. Carroll Campbell Jr. Graduate Engineering Centre, Greenville, South Carolina
The Carol Campbell Jr. The Graduate Engineering Centre was the first academic building of the new automotive engineering and research campus of Clemson University. Many of its interior spaces are designed to be flexible, to allow people to work individually or in groups.
8. Corning Child Development Centre, Corning, New York
The architecture of the Corning Child Development Centre is an amalgamation of functionality and order, with warmth and fantasy; a design that appeals to adults while simultaneously enlivening the spirits of children. The architects claim that the motion of spaces coupled with the variety of forms would contribute to the learning and development of children.
9. One Midtown Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia
The most striking feature of this Plaza is its grand lobby; a bright and generous space that reaches out to the street inviting people to experience its grandeur. The distinguishing chandelier, C78 is described on the firm’s website as “An intergalactic vector array, interrupted in its trajectory. C78 consists of 14 clusters, 293 vectors, 29 orbs, 586 space coordinates, 1 parasitic-nomadic eggnoid, 1 oculus, 615 tethers, and 783 digital morphologies.”
10. Clark Atlanta University Art Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
The art gallery was a forum for African-American artists to display their pieces, and held exhibitions from 1942 to 1970. To this date, the gallery hosts a collection of paintings, sculptures, and prints of over one hundred fifty of these artists.
11. New Visions Gallery for the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Atlanta, Georgia
This gallery serves as a multi-functioning area, with an exhibition space, foyer, sales area as well as office. The foyer acts as a reception as well as an open socializing space for events. The gallery allows plenty of natural light inflow, as well as a flexible lighting system.
12. Bailey House Studio, Atlanta, Georgia
Coming to some of their residential projects, this combined house and studio was designed for an artist and his family. A library ‘piece’ floats above the entrance, forming a link between the residential area and studio, and allows the landscape to flow through the two parts.
13. House in Brookline, Brooklyn, Massachusetts
Set in the suburbs, this home for a family of 3 children, is no regular house. With discontinuous facades, undulating curves, and offset pavilions, this house is unmistakably a unique site for passers-by. The interior spaces as well, show an interesting interplay of contrasting geometries.
14. Nomentana Residence, Stoneham, Maine
The form of this house originates as a result of the addition of many forms and spaces, almost like a cluster, similar to many houses in the state of Maine as a way of resisting the long winters. Although it gives the illusion of being very compact from the outside, it is very spacious.
15. Mountain House, Dillard, Georgia
Set at the gorgeous foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this house is now used as a weekend retreat. With a wood frame, steel and concrete walls, and a rectilinear geometry, this house blends beautifully with the serene nature it is enclosed within.