Notes from the 2015 Texas Society of Architects Design Conference in Denton

(Brantley Hightower)

O’Neil Ford’s Little Chapel. (Mia Frietze)

This year’s Texas Society of Architects Design Conference focused on the topic of craft and was framed by a discussion of noted regional modernist O’Neil Ford. It was held in the north Texas town of Denton where Ford began his professional career and executed several important early projects.

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Eavesdrop> Ski Bummer: Proposed enormous indoor ski slope resort in Texas calls it quits

Eavesdroplet, Southwest
Monday, March 23, 2015
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The Grand Alps Resort. (Courtesy Grand Alps Group)

The Grand Alps Resort. (Courtesy Grand Alps Group)

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.”

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Eavesdrop> It’s Very European! Houston developers invoke the Old World to help sell real estate

Before and after of the Alessandra Hotel design. (Courtesy Gensler)

Before and after of the Alessandra Hotel design. (Courtesy Gensler)

Eavesdrop is scratching its head. First, in January, Gensler released new renderings for the Hotel Alessandra in downtown Houston. Where before the firm had proposed a sleek modern glass tower for the site with strong, swooping vertical lines that accentuated the building’s height, the new iteration shows a collection of rectilinear facade treatments of varying levels of transparency arranged to express a podium, tower, and crown with cornice. Jonathan Brinsden, CEO of the project’s developer, Midway, described the new look as a “modern interpretation of European style.”

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On View> Shigeru Ban’s humanitarian architecture highlighted by the Dallas Center for Architecture

Architecture, On View, Southwest
Thursday, March 12, 2015
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Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013. (Bridgit Anderson)

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013. (Bridgit Anderson)

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.

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Elizabeth Chu Richter inaugurated as 2015 AIA President

2015 AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter. (William J Stewart Photography . Courtesy AIA)

2015 AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter. (William J Stewart Photography / Courtesy AIA)

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.

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Creek Show shines a light on Austin’s Waller Creek

High Watermark by Thoughtbarn (James Leasure)

High Water Mark by Thoughtbarn (James Leasure)

On the evening of Thursday, November 13, temperatures in Austin, Texas, dropped below freezing. In spite of the fact that most locals are unaccustomed to this degree of frigidity, more than 1,000 people turned out for Creek Show: Light Night 2014. The event, which ran from five in the evening until midnight, celebrated the unveiling of a series of light installations along Waller Creek between 5th and 9th streets.

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On View> Yusuke Asai paints with mud at Houston’s Rice Gallery

Art, On View, Southwest
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
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(Nash Baker)

(Nash Baker)

yamatane
Rice Gallery
6100 Main Street, Houston, Texas
Through November 23

yamatane, on view now at Rice Gallery in Houston, is a site-specific installation by Japanese artist Yusuke Asai. Created in just under two weeks by Asai and a team of student volunteers working around the clock, yamatane is composed of pigments made from soil collected in the Houston area—brown, yellow, pink, red, and even green dirt that was gathered before the artist arrived and ground into pigment with only water added to turn it into paint.

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Overland Unclogs Historic Plumbing Warehouse

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Through adaptive re-use, Overland found a new home in an abandoned warehouse near San Antonio's arts district. (Courtesy Overland)

Through adaptive re-use, Overland created a new home in an abandoned warehouse near San Antonio’s arts district. (Courtesy Overland)

San Antonio firm transforms vacant industrial building into sunlit workspace.

Dissatisfied with their two-story office, San Antonio architecture practice Overland Partners recently went looking for a new home. They found it in an unexpected place: a long-vacant plumbing supply warehouse within the city’s burgeoning arts district. The 1918 Hughes Plumbing Warehouse offered the firm exactly what they wanted—a large open floor plan—in an architecturally refined package. The timber-framed, brick-clad building “is simple,” said project architect Patrick Winn, “but it’s really elegant and beautiful when you’re able to look at it.” The problem was that years of disuse had left their mark. “When we first viewed it, it was really far gone,” recalled Winn. The original windows had been broken up, and the roof had flooded. Undaunted, the architects took on an extensive renovation project, with the result that today the former plumbing distribution center is a boon not just to Overland, but to the neighborhood as a whole.
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Next-Level Learning at Facades+ Dallas

Facades+ Dallas participants can register for a full day of dialog workshops.

Facades+ Dallas participants can register for a full day of dialog workshops.

Dialog, whether between teacher and student, master and apprentice, or a group of peers, has been an essential element of architectural practice throughout history. At next week’s Facades+ Dallas conference the tradition continues, with a series of dialog workshops following day 1’s symposium. Facade geeks from around the world will gather at the premier conference’s Dallas debut to chew over both abstract and concrete challenges, from designing envelopes for resilience to dealing with the problem of glare.

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Facades+ Dallas Co-Chair on the Big D’s Coming-of-Age

As Dallas comes of age, its built environment is a subject of debate among designers, city leaders, and residents. (David Herrera / Flickr)

As Dallas comes of age, its built environment is a subject of debate among designers, city leaders, and residents. (David Herrera / Flickr)

Dallas is growing up. And just like the rest of us, the city is doing some soul-searching on its way from adolescence to adulthood. “Growing up doesn’t necessarily mean growing out; bigger isn’t necessarily better,” said Heath May, director of HKS LINE and co-chair of the upcoming Facades+ Dallas conference. “People are starting to understand that it’s time to start thinking about public policy and the way it relates to placemaking.”

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Grappling with Glare in High-Performance Facade Design

Portions of Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall were sandblasted after construction to reduce glare. (Pedro Szekely / Flickr)

Portions of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall were sandblasted after construction to reduce glare. (Pedro Szekely / Flickr)

Frank Gehry‘s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Scott Johnson‘s Museum Tower in Dallas, and Rafael Viñoly‘s Vrada Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas have at least one thing in common. All three provoked the ire of their neighbors when glare from their reflective facades raised sidewalk temperatures, blinded drivers, or—as in the Museum Tower case—jeopardized the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center’s collections. Glare is increasingly a problem in facade design, says Curtainwall Design Consulting president Charles Clift, in part because of the tools contemporary architects have at their disposal. “The conclusion I came to is that the digital age of architecture has allowed designers to create anything they can imagine, but with that comes some unintended consequences.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Dallas as Architectural Destination

Architecture, Southwest
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
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Dallas is home to the largest concentration of Pritzer Prize-winning projects. (skys the limit2 / Flickr)

Dallas is home to the largest concentration of Pritzer Prize-winning projects. (skys the limit2 / Flickr)

If Dallas is not already on your list of top United States architectural destinations, it is past time to make a correction. The city boasts the largest concentration of Pritzker Prize–winning architects’ work anywhere, including Philip Johnson‘s Thanks-Giving Square, I.M. Pei‘s Dallas City Hall, Fountain Place, and Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Renzo Piano‘s Nasher Sculpture Center, Foster+ Partners‘ Winspear Opera House, and MorphosisPerot Museum of Science. The thriving Dallas Arts District is bursting with performance venues and architectural gems like Edward Larabee Barnes’ Dallas Museum of Art, SOM‘s Trammell Crow Center, and REX/OMA‘s Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. And more projects are in the works: Cesar Pelli is designing an office complex for Uptown, and a second Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge is planned to span the Trinity River. Read More

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