Mark Blizard’s primary topic of study is the interrelationship between culture, memory, and the practice of architecture. The cultural fabric that forms the interstitial space between humans and the surrounding world informs human perception, thinking, and practice. It is a rich repository of knowledge and values whose narrative structure allows us to “read” the world. In this way, human cultural values are inextricably woven into a web of material culture. By inhabiting this web that is composed of the various and interconnected forms of culture – music, art, science, history, economics, mythology, belief, language – humans take on an identity and values. Architecture, however, as with all design, is an interpretation of the forms of enveloping culture. Constructions are both extensions of thinking about being in the world, and vessels of cultural values that inform thought. The reciprocity between an environmental fabric and production is generative of a dialogic practice. Practice, in this sense, is understood as a dialogue with the world beyond the hands of the maker. For architects who are interested in the qualities of a place, region, or landscape and how they situate design, this web is perceived as a map of sorts.
Blizard’s research draws from a number of different wells from anthropology and archeology to linguistic studies and philosophy as well as the exchange between the oral and literary traditions. His studies and writings range form memory, meaning, and landscape to bricolage as a method of practice. In part, the larger study arises out of the nature of the design studio as an instrument of practice and as an environment through which the architect practices. In both of these, the sketchbook becomes the primary apparatus and site of the design process. The study of the sketch has recently taken Blizard to Tuscany where he and his wife have structured, directed, and taught in UTSA’s College of Architecture Study Abroad Program.