- Project Name
- Co-Op Ramen
- Marlon Blackwell Architects
- Ropeswing Hospitality Group
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 1,700 sq. feet
- Shared by
- Madeleine D'Angelo
- Project Status
An abridged version of the below paragraph appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of ARCHITECT as part of expanded coverage of the 2021 AIA Interior Architecture Awards. This project was also recognized in the 2020 Architectural Lighting Light & Architecture Design Awards.
In Tokyo, ramen genius can be found on every corner. In Arkansas, it’s a little harder to find. But the search recently became easier thanks in part to Fayetteville, Ark.–based architect Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, and his firm. Located in the budding art-destination town of Bentonville, Co-Op Ramen provides helpings of high-caliber, pulled noodles in an environment at once dazzling and comforting, urbane yet homey. In just 2,000 square feet, Blackwell’s interior melds a crisp, luminous ensemble of concrete-block panels, wooden tables and seating, a ceiling of geometric plywood coffers, and a green wall teeming with plant life. Processionally, the architect underscores the drama by leading diners in via a screen of metal ball bearings. The reveal is made more striking by the space’s subdued intimacy, a stark contrast to the buzzing Market District that the restaurant calls home. While clearly referencing the organic, minimalist traditions of Japan, the design manifests an ambition and complexity that reflects Bentonville’s increasing global profile, even as its off-the-shelf materiality seems perfectly tuned to the Southern locale.
Project: CO-OP Ramen, Bentonville, Ark.
Client/Owner: Ropeswing Hospitality Group
Architects: Marlon Blackwell Architects. Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Meryati Blackwell, AIA ASID LEED AP, Stephen Reyenga, Assoc. AIA, William Burks, Assoc. AIA, Callie Kesel, AIA
Interior Designer: Meryati Blackwell, AIA, ASID LEED AP
Mechanical Engineer: HP Engineering, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Gore 227 Inc.
Electrical Engineer: HP Engineering, Inc
General Contractor: Heart & Soule Builders
Lighting Designer: Taylor & Miller
Acoustics: Daniel Butko, AIA
Size: 1,700 square feet
Materials and Products
Cabinets/Custom woodwork: Custom fabrication of ¾” douglas fir AC plywood by Up & Down Industries.
Ceilings: custom ¾” douglas fir AC plywood fabrication by Up & Down Industries.
Countertops: Flamed finished Brazilian Granite
Plastic Laminate: Formica
Fabrics and Upholstery: Camira Main Line Flax fabric, upholstery by Joe Ellis Upholstery.
Flooring: Epoxy flooring by Desco Coatings
Furniture: stools- Emeco Broome by Philippe Starck , custom tables and chairs by C by M Creative. Custom booths by Up & Down Industries.
Planted Living Wall: custom with integral irrigation by Wall Flower Farm.
Lighting Control Systems: Lutron Caseta
Lighting: Nora Lighting, Sunlite LED, Red Dot waterproof lampholder.
Masonry and Stone: 4” CMU walls.
Paints and Finishes: Sherwin Williams
This project was named a winner in the 2021 AIA Interior Architecture Awards. From the firm's 2021 AIA Award submission:
In this new fast-casual ramen restaurant located in the bustling 8th Street Market in Bentonville, Arkansas, seemingly unrefined materials help create a quiet oasis. The simple materiality has been handled with care to shape a composed and richly textured space that focuses inward while creating a compelling dissonance between new and old.
The market opened in 2016 inside a former Tyson Foods plant. Where processed chicken tenders were once churned out daily, a food hub now offers shoppers and diners exciting opportunities to share meals and build community. CO-OP Ramen provides a social and comfortable space, presenting ramen, a humble yet elevated dish, in surroundings that reflect its nature and popularity. While the food provides an intense culinary experience, the surroundings offer moments of seclusion from the commotion of the surrounding market.
Beaded steel curtains obscure views into the restaurant, shrouding the complete experience until diners enter the space. The curtains also reduce and soften the light entering the restaurant, furthering the calming aura and encouraging hushed tones among those dining within. Upon entering, guests are greeted by a wooden ceiling, crafted from construction-quality plywood, that runs throughout the restaurant. The ceiling, which boasts careful joinery and detailing, is illuminated by concealed fixtures. Light travels through the depth of the plywood in the deeply coffered ceiling, forcing an interplay of light and shadow in its recesses.
The wood's warmth contrasts with the restaurant's concrete block walls, a reference to its handmade character and the market's industrial history. Its warm yellow finish resonates with the custom-made white oak furniture. While different, it is clear that they were both crafted by the same hands. A 12-foot living green wall helps soften the carefully laid block walls, and guests are provided views of the chefs at work in the open kitchen. A variety of seating, from booths to communal dining tables to bar seating, is provided.
At just 2,000 square feet, CO-OP Ramen has emerged as a destination within a destination. Its interiors are highlighted by a variety of spaces that are all aligned with the overarching design. Through the team's design strategy, the restaurant offers an uplifting experience within an industrial remnant, lending it a clear sense of both humanity and scale.