In Dallas on Monday April 25, the city held a public county commissioners meeting to discuss a uniquely local issue: preserving the buildings surrounding Dealey Plaza, where the 35th President, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald. “As soon as those shots rang out, everything around Dealey Plaza had to be frozen in time,” Brooks Love, chief of staff for Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, told the Dallas Morning News. The cost to renovate the interiors of two county-owned buildings overlooking the plaza—the 1918 Criminal Courthouse and Jail and the 1925 Records Building—could cost $138 million. Part of the preservation effort includes a courtroom where Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner—and for those who believe in conspiracy theories, possibly connected to the mafia—went on trial for killing Oswald. (An American history refresher: Ruby was found guilty and sentenced to death, but he successfully appealed. Yet he died from lung cancer before a new trial date was set. So he died unconvicted.) At the moment, Dallas County is discussing financing. “The tax rate would stay the same for property owners. The county would use money from its cash reserve that is earmarked for spending on buildings and roads,” Ryan Brown, the county budget officer explained to the Dallas Morning News. Below is a look at the historic evaluation slides Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture presented to the county April 25. Dealey Plaza is a National Historic Landmark. There is information on the historic evaluation designations of nearby buildings, as well as floor plans and photos—both historic and current—of the buildings' interiors and exteriors. https://www.scribd.com/doc/310417020/Records-Bldg-Historical-Evaluation-Presentation-042616 There is another public meeting scheduled to discuss renovation funding for May 17.
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In over 100 projects, Team Better Block (TBB), the organization that works directly with cities to realize large-scale placemaking initiatives, helps make your great city even better. Now, thanks to a $775,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Dallas-based organization will be better able to serve cities and the people who make them. The January grant, meted out in installments, allowed TBB to create the Better Block Foundation (BBF), a nonprofit arm of for-profit TBB. Founder Jason Roberts explained that the grant will help both entities grow and support each other mutually. Roberts clarified that, while Better Block solutions like bike lane, plaza, and pop-up business recipes are "an open-source operating system, like Linux," free and open for all to use, TBB installs Better Block solutions for a fee. He and co-founder Andrew Howard realized a need for the foundation when TBB went worldwide. "We didn't have the bandwidth, so we needed the non-profit model. The nonprofit will help other folks do these things," he told AN. Things like transforming underutilized spaces, building workforce capacity, and cultivating vacant land. The program is expanding its staff to include a managing director, architect, project manager, and creating an internship program. Howard will manage TBB, while Roberts, who enjoys research and development, is directing the foundation. The BBF includes a human capacity-building component, as well. Civic leaders, elected officials, developers, and others "passionate about the built environment" will be able to meet architects, planners, and designers to discuss solutions for their cities' public spaces. Additionally, the foundation will build capacity to collect data and performance metrics before and after a Better Block project is installed. "We haven't had a chance to document that piece," Roberts reflected. "The foundation can focus on impact." This year, the BBF and TBB are planning the WikiBlocks project for the city of St. Paul. In collaboration with neighborhood groups, they'll install parklets, flowerbeds, and cafe seating from cutout designs whose plans are free to download and assemble. TBB is teaming up with the digital fabrication studio at Kent State University to create the prototypes for the project: In about three months, the early models will be developed. TBB knows how local culture manifests itself in and through the built environment, and that drawing on that ethos is key to building strong neighborhoods. Right now, TBB is using one site to turn around a struggling neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, and posing the question in reverse: how could culture express itself in an individual house? Working with refugees from Bhutan, in collaboration with the International Institute, the Bhutan Cultural Association, and a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Akron, the team is transforming a dilapidated house in the North Hill neighborhood into The Exchange House, an Airbnb youth hostel managed by the émigrés. Refugees sponsored by the State Department are indebted to the government: refugees have to pay back their plane ticket. Consequently, they're expected to find work, but language and cultural barriers can make that difficult. Running the hostel will provide an opportunity for cultural exchange, help refugees earn money, and build English language skills, as well as revitalize a neighborhood that has excess housing and infrastructural capacity. The partners hope to "stamp North Hill as an international neighborhood." There's 11 months left on the project, and demolition on the interior is progressing apace. Sai Sinbondit (of Cleveland-based Bialosky + Partners Architects) is the lead architect. A market, garden, and community resource center will round out the hostel's program.
On the heels of designing Dallas’s McKinney & Olive tower, his first in the city, Cesar Pelli snagged a competitive proposal as the architect of the Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center. The new museum will be located at the corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street in downtown Dallas. Specific details on the museum have yet to be released, but it will be the first museum in the United States exclusively devoted to South Asia; much of the collection will be focused on India. Although Pelli is best known for building some of the tallest towers in the world, the museum is not intended to be a skyscraper, but rather a new cultural addition to the burgeoning area. The proposed 4.7-acre site will be a few blocks away from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the not-yet-completed Victory Park complex, making it one of several exciting new additions to the neighborhood.
Images for a plan to build a skyscraper complex in north Dallas have been making waves across the web. The so-called Harwood Phase XII would top out at 1,080 feet over the Texas city. Dallas-based developer Harwood International submitted the proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in August as the buildings height means it may disrupt to flight paths in the area. Online, the images have been gaining coverage attracting significant attention despite the fact that the proposal is still awaiting approval and could change as plans are refined. The project looks set to visually dominate its surroundings, and developers hope it will attract visitors to the area. The renderings show extensive use of trees and other natural features to liven up the area. They will also complement the use of wood that is featured as an accent in the project. The towers are generally clad in glass, and often include eroded box forms with softened corners. Speaking to Dallas News, local developer Harwood International said the images are "not exact representations of what might actually be built." "They are some renderings we had done a while back—they are really old,” Jihane Boury, Harwood vice president of leasing said. "We are still studying what we are going to do there." Despite their age, the images drew recent online attention after a user posted to the Dallas section of social media website Reddit. The Dallas-based firm's long-term plans appear to be in place as they aim for the structure be home to shops, eatery's and high-rise residential flats.
An important milestone for what is set to be Dallas' newest landmark was just reached as the first arch of Santiago Calatrava's Margaret McDermott Bridges project was completed in late August. As part of Dallas-Fort Worth region's Horseshoe Project, the Margaret McDermott Bridges, according to a press release, "are a major component of the city’s urban revitalization efforts." The project will span 1,200 feet across the Trinity River creating what is set to be a "central gathering place." Currently, the Eastbound Bridge Arch rises 275 feet above Interstate 30 and the project is due to be completed during the summer of 2017. The last arch piece, which was lifted roughly 28 stories on August 22, is approximately 1,024 feet long and weighs about 200 tons. The news is a boost for locals who eagerly anticipate its completion as it will provide pedestrian, cycle and car access to both sides. Costing a total of $113 million, the bridges barely take a chunk out of the $798 million Horseshoe project which looks to solve the city's infrastructure needs and traffic flow to the heart of Dallas’ downtown. For the entire duration of construction of the Margaret McDermott Bridge, Interstate 30 main lines have remained open.
Taking a cue from a program in Houston, Dallas has decided to house 50 homeless people using low-cost cottages designed by bcWORKSHOP, short for Building Community Workshop. The small dwellings are expected to open to residents in late October. Each person will have his or her own 400-square-foot home complete with a compact kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. The homes also include access to a shared green recreational space as well as "on-site high-quality mental & medical healthcare and social services." Speaking to Dallas News Larry James, president and chief executive of CitySquare (who will also offer job training among other social services) said: “We found out that if we take the 200 most expensive people, the average person in the top 200 is costing taxpayers about $40,000 a year to keep them on the street.” This fits with the statement made by the executive director of Cottages at Hickory Crossing, Keith Ackerman, who told the Huffington Post that the program will reduce these costs to under $13,000 per person, saving the taxpayer an estimated $1.3million. The project has already received an AIA Dallas Design Award. It has taken six years to come to fruition running up a cost of $8.2 million, most of which has largely been fundraised. Meanwhile, the program has asked the public to help by purchasing furniture from Target via their gift registry. The move by Dallas is not new. Similar developments are cropping up across the country in what is becoming a national trend. Cities like Nashville, TN, has its own group of micro houses, part of the so-called "Infinity Village" which houses six homeless people.
Envelope inspired by history of Dallas' African-American community.For the past 20 years, San Antonio–based Muñoz & Company (formerly Kell Muñoz Architects) has focused primarily on what president and CEO Henry Muñoz III calls "the architecture of identity." The bulk of that work, in turn, has been concentrated on the United States–Mexico border, where the architects collaborated with clients in majority-Latino communities.The commission to design Billy Dade Middle School (in a joint venture with KAI Texas) represented a departure from the firm's usual context. "It struck us that this particular campus had such a rich history and location—in the urban core of the city, and an area where the African-American community has been so important, historically," recalled Muñoz. "It was a great opportunity to explore what that means in the 21st century." Working closely with local residents, Muñoz & Company settled on the metaphor of a quilt, announcing the school's commitment to culturally attuned education with a translucent facade in multicolored glass and illuminated brick. Much of the preparation for the project took place outside the studio. "We approached it not just as designers, but in a more scholarly fashion," said Muñoz. The architects researched the school's namesake—educator, parent, and activist Dr. Billy Earl Dade—through interviews with family members and colleagues as well as archival materials found in a local museum. The linchpin of the design, however, fell into place at a dinner event Muñoz attended. There he asked Claudine Brown, assistant secretary for education and access at the Smithsonian Institution, to help him brainstorm a symbol of cultural identity in the African-American community, one that could help inspire young minds. "Immediately, with no hesitation, she said, 'I think you should look at quilts,'" said Muñoz. As the conversation and further research progressed, he learned that quilts have been used to tell stories, as visual signposts for safety, and as subtle acts of resistance—as well as to meet a basic need for warmth. In addition, said Muñoz, "We found superb artistry, [including] quilting collectives that keep the tradition alive." On the school's exterior, the architects expressed the quilt metaphor with multicolored glass walls fronting diagonal bays. Beyond the reference to quilts as cultural artifacts, the pattern projects a belief in the community's resilience. "That glass wall is an important way of expressing how anything can be woven together," said Muñoz. A patchwork rhythm recurs more subtly in the facade's brick walls, where transparent glass elements preserve a sense of openness. "At night, when the glass curtain wall is so transparent—like a lantern—you also get a sense of that in the brick wall," he explained. The entrance canopy, clad primarily in metal, deepens the material diversity of the building envelope, underlining the design's focus on inclusiveness. "You should be able to be yourself as you walk under it," said Muñoz. The quilt theme continues throughout the interior, notably in the tiled floors (inspired by the work of quilting cooperative Gee's Bend), displays of text from Dade's writings, quilts commissioned for the library, and a collection of salvaged doors lining the lobby walls. "Dade was a really strong mentor in an intergenerational fashion," explained Muñoz. We looked at a speech he made about opportunity and thought, 'What if we harvested doors from the neighborhood?' So in the lobby you see this patchwork of doors, meant to be doors of opportunity." Built to meet Dallas Independent School District's stringent environmental standards, Billy Dade "combined [environmental] sustainability with the idea of cultural sustainability," explained Muñoz. Though in keeping with the firm's track record of community-based design, the project was nonetheless a learning opportunity for the architects. "This was the first time that we've [designed] a school that is multicultural in a different way than what we've been used to working with," he said. "While the population was different, I hope people found something that they can see themselves in."
Grand Prairie, Texas, has been spared what could have been the nation’s first indoor ski resort and Hard Rock Hotel. The project’s developer, The Grand Alps Group, pulled the $215 million proposal after a meeting with Grand Prairie’s mayor and city manager. They were not happy about losing the big fish. “We were a little surprised,” City Manager Tom Hart told the Dallas Morning News. “We thought we had a pretty good meeting.” In a press release, Sherman Thurston, Grand Alps’ CEO, cited a disagreement about “terms and conditions and costs” as his reason for pulling out of the deal. Apparently the $30 million in tax exemptions, offer to purchase half the land, and return of 75 percent of the hotel-motel taxes that Grand Prairie promised Thurston wasn’t enough to convince the developer, who claims to already have financing in place to build the project, including $100 million from foreign investors, mostly Chinese. Grand Alps is currently looking for other possible sites in the Dallas–Fort Worth area.
Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture Dallas Center for Architecture 1909 Woodall Rodgers Freeway Dallas, Texas Through April 25 The Dallas Center for Architecture is presenting a selection of Pritzker Prize winning architect Shigeru Ban’s disaster relief designs. Ban’s humanitarian architecture has confronted some of the world’s most devastating natural and manmade cataclysms in the last 20 years. The Japanese architect is known for his pioneering designs for United Nations refugee shelters in the mid-1990s, using inexpensive and often recycled materials such as paper tubes and cardboard to make durable, shock-proof structures. Projects on view include the Tsunami Reconstruction Project (2005, Sri Lanka), Onagawa Community Center (2011, Onagawa, Japan, pictured above), Cardboard Cathedral (2013, New Zealand), and Paper Nursery School (2014, Yaan, Japan). Complementing the exhibition is a film screening on April 8 of a 2006 documentary about Ban, Shigeru Ban: An Architect for Emergencies. The film features extensive interviews with the architect about the practical, philosophical, and aesthetic aspects of his work. The exhibition is held in collaboration with Austin College, which will present Ban with the 2015 Posey Leadership Award at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on March 26.
Thirty-four earthquakes have occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex city of Irving since October 2014. Over the past week, the Dallas suburb has been shaken by a number of earthquakes from a common source point lying roughly below the former site of Texas Stadium. Those 34 quakes have contributed to the over 130 occurrences since 2008. The number is staggering considering the seismic activity in the region was non-existent prior. The number is considerable but perhaps even more alarming has been the recent magnitude. On January 6, two quakes at 3.5 and 3.6, recorded at a depth of 3 to 4 miles below the surface, were felt as far as the central business district in Dallas. With the ongoing seismic activity has come a series of debates focused around the recent spike in number with fingers pointing directly at the increased fracking activity in the region. Though occurrences have been numerous, reports of damage have been minor. The speculation is just given the source’s proximity to the Balcones Fault, which runs from Larado on the Mexican border up along the path of Interstate 35. The fault defines the line between the cross timbers and farmland to the east and the Texas Hill Country and Great Plains to the west. Seismic activity on the fault has been minor for centuries. In recent years, the disposal of wastewater nearly 10,000 feet below the Earth’s surface has been linked to a number of tremors throughout the region. Though any connection between seismic activity and hydraulic fracturing has been denied by the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil industry in Texas, a team of professors from SMU have begun an intensive study of the Texas Stadium site to identify the cause of the recent increase in earthquakes. The recent earthquake activity will undoubtedly continue to raise additional questions that surround the true positives and negatives behind fracking practices, an argument thoughtfully outlined by Brantley Hightower in May of 2014. For more specifics on the recent quakes the Dallas Morning News has compiled a series of hypothetical outcomes in a recent issue.
At a ceremony held in mid-December, Elizabeth Chu Richter was inaugurated as the 91st president of the AIA. Richter was born in Nanjing, China, grew up in Hong Kong and Dallas, and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas. In 2007, she served as the president of the Texas Society of Architects and more recently represented Texas on the AIA’s National Board of Directors. Richter also heads the Corpus Christi-based architecture firm Richter Architects which won the 2011 Texas Society of Architects Firm Award. “As architects, we use our creativity to serve society—to make our communities better places to live," Richter said at the event. "Through our profession and our life’s work, each of us has shaped and reshaped the ever-changing narrative that is America in both humble and spectacular ways.”
Framework is made of 260 unique steel boxes, laser-cut and sculpted on an 18-axis metal forming machine.When designers at Gensler's Dallas office dreamt up plans for a serpentine steel screen composed of hundreds of perforated cells, they enlisted the design-build talents of Arktura, based in Gardena, California, 14 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Though still mostly architects, Arktura's staff includes mechanical engineers and even a physicist. The company’s 50,000-square-foot space includes a design studio, an engineering studio, and manufacturing space where they produce furniture, architectural products, and custom projects—like the one Gensler took to calling “Frameworks: Cellure Structure.” “It's in our DNA to allow a lot of flexibility when we're working with design teams,” said Sebastian Muñoz, director of project design and development. Gensler's concept remained intact through numerous redesigns, Muñoz said, but getting it right required a lot of flexibility. “They wanted something that was really elegant and light but very architectural. They wanted it to have spatial qualities,” said Muñoz. The form wends organically across two axes, wrapping up and partially enclosing a space in the lobby of their confidential corporate client's Houston offices. To get that lightness without sacrificing structural stability, Arktura had to develop custom software solutions. The screen is made of 260 unique steel boxes, laser-cut and sculpted on an 18-axis metal forming machine. The solution kept the complex project within budget, said Muñoz, which would have been impossible if they had used custom molds for each box. Opting for cleverly formed sheet metal over pricey composite materials also reined in the project's budget-busting potential. Once they were molded, the metal boxes needed to be aligned perfectly so the inside of the ribbon-like enclosure would appear as one continuous unit. At the same time, they wanted the outside cells to protrude on one end, poking out slightly like scales. That is where Arktura's custom software came in. Though it does not yet have a name, Muñoz said the digital design tool could have other applications in the future. Arktura manufactured the object in nine separate modules before shipping it to Texas, where it was assembled on site. In all, the piece uses 9,500 rivets with 14,000 points of alignment. The massive steel screen appears to tiptoe on a raised floor, but is fastened securely to the concrete slab beneath on custom footings. Muñoz credits New York City–based Laufs Engineering and Design with simultaneously giving the project a powerful presence and an almost airy lightness. Gensler's team—Chris Campbell, Ted Watson, Paul Manno, Emily Shively, and Amanda Kendall—punctured each steel box so sunlight could pour through. The aperture varies on either end of those cavities, as well as from box to box, creating distinct qualities of light inside the space enclosed by Frameworks.
Shelves and lighting added after installation help hightlight vendors and exhibitors who sometimes use the space to show off their goods. As the wending form tapers off away from the shelves, the shape provides a natural space for a retail desk.
Muñoz said without the combination of custom software and clever prefabrication techniques, the manufacturing process would have seriously compromised the design. Now it's possible to imagine pulling off future projects with the same level of complexity. “The computing power was not possible not that long ago," he said. "We're excited about it.”