Today the paper announced Mark Lamster as their new architecture critic effective April. So who is Mark Lamster?
Tadao Ando was back in Fort Worth this past weekend to mark the tenth anniversary of his museum. We spoke to him about the building, America, and his architectural practice.
I wanted to pull out a few takeaways from last night’s discussion about Fair Park, as well as put forth a few ideas to keep the conversation going.
LocationDallas Center For Architecture 1909 Woodall Rodgers Frwy. Dallas, TX 75201
DatesOct 2, 6:30 p.m.
I hope you can join me tonight at the Dallas Center For Architecture for a panel discussion I will be moderating called:”The Elephant in South Dallas’ Living Room: What Do We Do With Fair Park?”
On October 2, I will moderate a panel that tackles the question of Fair Park, and how the site can be transformed to the benefit of the South Dallas neighborhood it is part of.
This past Friday, the curtain raised on the Arts District’s newest venue. Here’s what people are saying about the new concert facility.
Until someone is actually named to the position, this is very much a “wait and see.”
City Performance Hall is a building that is functional, approachable, and unpretentious. And in terms of Dallas cultural architecture, it is a remarkable achievement.
The moment when the details of New York City Planner Amanda Burden’s presentation at last night’s NasherSALON became largely inapplicable to its Dallas audience came very early on.
My wife and I had an idea for a public art piece for Dallas that we used to kick around during Friday happy hour: a pedestrian trail marked on the sidewalks of Downtown Dallas modeled after Boston’s Freedom Trail that leads visitors to the city’s notable architectural landmarks. The catch, however, is that Dallas’ landmarks — from Little Mexico to the Carousel Club — wouldn’t actually exist anymore.
That idea — Dallas’ lost architectural legacy — is the subject of an upcoming project at the Dallas Center For Architecture. Centered around an exhibition of photographs of lost buildings, neighborhoods, and other places at the Center’s Woodall Rodgers location, Lost Dallas will also include walking tours, lectures, and book signings. It all kicks off on May 21. Here’s the full release.
Image: Movie theaters lining Elm Street downtown, c. 1957 (via)
bcWorkshop, one of CityDesign Studio architect Brent Brown’s two hats, has submitted two projects for consideration for the Corporation for National and Community Service’s 2012 National Service Impact Awards. The awards are given to projects that leverage architecture and design as community service in “key issue areas of the Serve America Act and disaster services.” bcWorkshop’s two projects include their energy efficient renovation of five homes on Congo Street in South Dallas, and the development of a disaster relief housing project on the Gulf Coast, which designed new housing for the hurricane prone region based on feedback gathered through community meetings with an emphasis on sociability and disaster preparedness.
The awards will be chosen both by a panel of Corporation for National and Community Service judges, as well as public vote. You can check out bcWorkshop’s two projects here and here. And you can vote right here.
Art and art museums’ primary requirement for functionality is light. Remove the light source or interfere with it sufficiently and you have effectively removed the building’s functionality.
Hopefully by now you’ve read Tim’s cover story in this month’s D Magazine about the showdown between the Museum Tower and the Nasher Sculpture Center. If you haven’t, here’s a quick summary:
Museum Tower : Magnifying Glass :: Nasher : Ant
Now the New York Times has a front page report:
No one quite knows what to do. The condo developer and museum officials are at loggerheads. Fingers are being pointed. Mr. Piano is furious. The developer’s architect is aggrieved. The mayor is involved. A former official in the George W. Bush administration has been asked to mediate.
The situation has been characterized by some here as a David-and-Goliath battle between a beloved nonprofit and commercial interests. But the dispute has also raised the broader question of what can happen when, as is currently the rage, cultural institutions are cast as engines of economic development.
UPDATE: Will Architect Renzo Piano Sue Museum Tower?
In the May edition of D Magazine, Tim Rogers reports on the ongoing controversy over the construction of Museum Tower. Rogers has been following Museum Tower’s impact on the Nasher ever since he and Willard Spiegelman lofted a red balloon in the air to measure the impact the building would have on the James Turrell sculpture, Tending, (Blue). Now it is clear that the development will a far greater impact on the museum than ever imagined.
When the Nasher Sculpture Center began leaking light in September, director Jeremy Strick didn’t immediately grasp the gravity of the situation. In the lobby near the cash register, just a few small splotches of light splashed across a travertine wall.
The leak should have been impossible. The Nasher was designed by Renzo Piano, arguably the world’s greatest modernist architect, a man famous for reinventing the roof. For the Nasher, he created an ingenious system composed of two parts: a barrel-vaulted roof-cum-ceiling made of 3-inch-thick, 1,200-pound glass panels and, suspended above the glass, a sunscreen of millions of tiny aluminum oculi aimed due north. The sunscreen was designed using the precise longitude and latitude of the Nasher, and it accounts for every hour of the Earth’s 365-day trip around the Sun. Standing in the gallery, a visitor looking up and to the south sees what appears to be a solid structure through the glass ceiling. Turning 180 degrees and looking north, though, he sees open sky. The system allows into the museum soft, full-spectrum light that is not only safe for artwork but creates ideal, transcendent viewing conditions. The roof system is patented, and Ray Nasher, who died in 2007, considered it part of the art collection that he gave to Dallas.
Strick saw the light hitting the lobby wall and looked north. Instead of open sky, he saw the new Museum Tower, where construction workers were installing glass panels on the lower levels of the 42-story building. Sunlight was reflecting off that glass and penetrating Piano’s roof. Nasher staffers took pictures of the light splotches and talked among themselves about whether they might affect an upcoming exhibit, but no one was ready to sound the alarm.
The David Dillon Center for Texas Architecture, named after the late- great Dallas Morning News architecture critic, will launch the “David Dillon Symposium” April 26 with keynote speaker Paul Goldberger, the architecture critic for the New Yorker.
Carol Coletta means her speech to be a source of encouragement to her audience (all, ostensibly and by nature of their presence, supporters of downtowns in theory). But it is also an admonition.
If you haven’t checked out this article from yesterday’s New York Times, do so. It suggests rethinking the parking lot, that source of urban blight which we all claim to hate, and yet, “we continue to produce parking lots, in cities as well as in suburbs, in the same way we consume all those billions of plastic bottles of water and disposable diapers.”
In short, the parking lot isn’t going away, and while we should reverse the policies that have led to the creation of eight parking spaces for every car in the country, we should also start thinking of parking lots as real public spaces. The article outlines a few ideas, from landscaping to utilizing the space for pop-up marketplaces, that support taking lots more seriously rather than merely continuing to ignore them.
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is a piece of architecture weighted with expectations and symbolic connotations.
The Dallas Architecture Forum invited architect Qingyun Ma to Dallas, and we spoke to him about the emergence of a new kind of urban form.
When the Dallas Opera announced that it was cutting a production from its 2011-2012 season, it was pretty clear about where it laid at least some of the blame:
While this move benefitted the company in important ways and contributed significantly to both the critical and popular success of our subsequent productions in the new, purpose-built venue, the change also had a dramatic impact on the number of patrons who could be accommodated at any given performance, falling from more than 3,400 to a seating capacity of 2,200.
In other words, “Thanks for our new, pretty opera, but it’s killing us.”
Those concerns have been picked up upon in an article in Fastco Design which looks at the architect Norman Foster’s string of “unlucky” projects in America. The opera’s problems, the article reminds us, are not the architect’s fault. The size of the theater was determined by a steering committee which oversaw the development. The decision to perform in repertory was made possible by the new house, but ultimately it was one made by the Dallas Opera. And it is hard to sympathize with complaints over the cost of operating the new building considering the opera has been dreaming of moving out of Fair Park and into a “world class” facility for decades. “World class” venues carry “world class” costs.
But the Winspear is only one of Foster’s troublesome projects in the United States. Some projects, such as a proposed Globe theater redo for New York’s Governors Island, never got off the ground. A Seattle project has fallen victim to the financial crisis. And his Hearst Tower project in New York has made it into the running for one of the ugliest buildings in that city.
This summer we are launching a series of articles that will look at Dallas’ architecture and urban form from a pedestrian perspective. We are not going to opine about what needs to be done to make this city more of a sensible place for citizens on foot. Rather, we’re going to look at how Dallas exists today, and specifically, how the tangle of plans, architecture, and ideas across the decades have created a strange, illogical, frustrating, but also sometimes pleasant and surprising urban environment.
To start: a simple thing I discovered one day when I went to walk from D Magazine’s offices at the corner of Ross Ave. and St. Paul St. (across from the Dallas Museum of Art) to the Dallas Public Library. With St. Paul under construction due to the expansion of First Baptist, I avoided a direct route. What I found was the kind of thing that is often pictured and idealized in New Urbanist plans: a street level pedestrian walkway that stretches from the north end of Downtown/arts district to the government district. Sure, it doesn’t look like the wonderful Fußgänger-Plätze that you can find in nearly every German city and town and which are often pictured in urban plans, but it serves the same purpose. Let’s start. (more…)
Any Dallas parent knows the health risks that accompany allowing their child to run and play outside all summer. Luckily Dallas offers plenty of theater and arts programs throughout the summer.
You may have already read Patrick Kennedy’s column on the Arts District in the June issue of D, but if you haven’t check it out.
Patrick makes a suggestion for the re-purposing of decommissioned DISD portable classrooms. It’s an idea that has been floating around in various forms since our panel discussion on the Arts District last fall: if the problem with the district is density of use and function, why not add that density by introducing portable structures into the district? Think of an urban bazaar, where small buildings propped against some of the less visually-appealing areas of the district could house shops, eateries, studios, and more. From Patrick’s piece:
[Portables] could be repurposed for small businesses and entrepreneurs who otherwise couldn’t afford downtown rents. The parking lot owner gets rent for the spaces the portable occupies, and the city gets improved urban form as the ugly interior of the parking lot is hidden by a curtain of portables—aka storefronts. Parking lots tend to have a corrosive effect on surrounding properties, so anything is better than nothing (or just parked cars). Even better, once they do their job in one place, the portables can be relocated to resuscitate another struggling block someplace else.
One of the problems with the design of the district is that it contains much empty space. We’re not just talking about the to-be developed portions. Think about the wall of the Dallas Museum of Art between Flora and the future Woodall Park site, or that same stretch next to the Nasher. Or what about the backside of the Cathedral? Or Pearl St? There is a lot of space in the Arts District that is already designed to be useless from a pedestrian perspective. From Patrick’s piece:
The Arts District acts as a port for North Texas, importing internationally produced art and culture. But it’s a one-way relationship. Its imposing architectural trophies designed by Pritzker winners have thus far not proved hospitable to a robust ecology of human activity. We wanted a vibrant Arts District, but we hired an architect who explicitly wanted to disorient visitors, make them uncomfortable as they entered his building. Job well done, Joshua Prince-Ramus. . . .
The Arts District venues were expensive to build, but the dead zone around them can be jump-started on the cheap. The big buildings need some fine-grain detail to touch and feel. Let’s line the streets and blocks of the Arts District with DISD portables recycled as studios and showrooms where local artists can express themselves while providing daytime interest and activity in the district.
I like this idea in theory, but there are problems (and not just that it sounds really ugly). First off, I really don’t like this ongoing talk about bringing working artists to the Arts District. If we are talking about trying to create more pedestrian life in the district, more use of public space, and more vibrant day-to-day activity by infusing life into the area, artist studios are not the answer. When was the last time you woke up, grabbed a sandwich, and ran by a local artist studio to watch an artist stare at his or her painting for an hour in order to determine if it was finished or not? Right, never.
Let’s pull back out our Jane Jacobs: street life is generated in areas that serve as intersections of a variety of functions. The problem with the Arts District is mono-functionality is written into its very concept. What it needs is more functions. Restaurants and eateries help, but what about a cafe, or a dentist, or a shoe repair, or any number of the practicals services that are buried under downtown Dallas? What about a place to buy cigarettes or cigars that you could smoke in the park? Or a small shop that sells doggy treats and donuts for the One Arts residents who walk their dogs through the district? Or a bookshop that pulls from the individual book stores at each of the district’s museums?
I’m sure you could come up with another dozen ideas for the kinds of shops that would be interesting to stumble upon in the Arts District, but I list these ideas to make a point. Space is only one of the issues with bringing life to the district, filling those spaces with viable stores is another one. Finding shop operators is not easy. Who is going to invest in an area that has no foot traffic today? Should the city subsidize these operators until they get on their feet? Should the Arts District? Would the institutions pay more dues to put functions in front of their buildings that don’t necessarily mean increased audience, ticket sales, revenue? Maybe. Maybe not.
There are other questions. Could you open any kind of cafe, restaurant, food spot near the AT&T Performing Arts Center? No. Wolfgang Puck would throw kitchen knives at you. Could you open a bookstore that culls from the museum’s shops? Why would the museums allow something to open that would divert people from their own gift shops?
I think this idea has legs. We have to think of other ways to introduce life into the district, and that life needs to take the form of services that are not arts-oriented. But all the Arts District is is space, and it is what fills that space that makes it interesting, enjoyable, and of civic value. If we are going to introduce more space in the form of shops, the real trick will be determining who — if anyone — would be willing to fill it with quality uses.
One of the obstacles of the design of the new Calatrava Bridge spanning the Trinity River flood plain has been the power substation that sits right in line with where the bridge will eventually let off traffic. Once upon a time, the power station’s location was considered out of the way, but now, it is a seen as a blight on the hoped-to-be-lovely new and improved West Dallas. That’s why the City Design Studio has issued an open call for proposals to “re-imagine the external appearance of the power substation.” The studio began accepting submissions yesterday, but act fast: the deadline for proposals is June July 8.
I like Bethany’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion for the project that she posted to FrontBurner yesterday. After all, this is every bit a lipstick on a pig project. In the comments to this Dallas Observer story on the project, there is a much simpler and rather novel idea: trees. But you never know what you’ll get when you throw a bunch of creatives at a project, especially when there is a stipend in play for $5,000 – $8,000. So we’ll wait and see what proposals come in.
For now, here’s my idea for sweeping that nasty power substation under the proverbial rug: a giant blown-up version of Danny Williams drawing Pleine de la Maule, 2007 (pictured above) – mural-sized, like a giant billboard blocking our view of the power station.
The Nasher Sculpture Center, The Rachofsky House, and a handful of other organziatoins are partnering for a weeklong summer architecture workshop for high school students.
Join architect and educator Peter Goldstein, AIA, for a week-long workshop exploring some of the most talked-about and innovative structures in Dallas. Participants will visit buildings designed by a host of the world’s leading architects including Pritzker Prize Laureates Renzo Piano, Richard Meier, Norman Foster, Thom Mayne and I. M. Pei.
Not a bad way to spend a week in June. Here’s the full release:
- Photos From the Inaugural Taco Fest, Featuring Punk, Police, and (Oddly) No Tacos
- This Week Heritage Auction Offers A Brief Look at a Trove of Modern and Contemporary Art
- The Classical Note: Wagner, van Zweden, and Musical Decadence at the Dallas Symphony
- Kings X: important Enough to Be Legends, Fringe Enough to Be Forgotten