Since arriving in North Texas to take up the job of Dallas Morning News architecture critic, Mark Lamster has been under a trial by fire, suffering scrutiny and criticism for everything from his Yankee origin to his unsympathetic take on the city’s built environment. Well, local opinions seem to be warming a bit to the sharp-tongued scribe. In a recent piece in the Dallas Observer, Charles Schultz went so far as to praise how quickly Lamster has come to understand Big D’s development landscape and the insider track around its so-called zoning regulations. Schultz even showed a little contrition for a previous quip: “I apologize for calling him ‘Mark Lamster, New York Pinhead’ when he first showed up.”
Nearly a month has passed now since the more than 800 people from all of the globe who attended this year’s New Cities Summit in Dallas, Texas, packed up their bags, and returned home. Each is now equipped—if the Summit proved its purpose—with a slew of practical ideas on how to positively transform the urban environment, or at least a more robust list of contacts in the fields of government, business, and urban design. For those of you who missed it, the New Cities Foundation has just released an ebook recapitulating what was discussed in its many keynote speeches, workshops, and panel discussions. The foundation has also produced a four-minute highlights movie (embedded below), which captures some of the enthusiastic spirit of this international gathering of urban thinkers and doers, which is now in its third year.
This year, the Europe-based New Cities Foundation is bringing its annual New Cities Summit to the Dallas Arts District, from June 17 to 19. Eight hundred global thought leaders will convene at the Winspear Opera House to listen to speakers, engage in workshops, and take advantage of world-class networking opportunities. The Architect’s Newspaper is one of the summit media partners. AN Southwest editor Aaron Seward recently spoke to Mathieu Lefevre, the Executive Director of the New Cities Foundation, about what the organization has on tap for this year’s summit, whose theme is Re-imagining Cities: Transforming the 21st Century Metropolis.
Aaron Seward: Let’s start by getting some background on the New Cities Summit. What is it? Why did it start? And what does it hope to achieve?
Mathieu Lefevre: The New Cities Summit started when the New Cities Foundation was set up, in 2010. It’s a non-profit whose mission is to make cities better. The event is aimed at shaping the global conversation and adding to the creative thought leadership surrounding how to shape what we are calling the Century of Cities. We held the first summit in 2012 in Paris; then we went to São Paulo, Brazil, in 2013; and this year we’re coming to Texas.
Dallas developer Shawn Todd is proposing a $100 million parking-garage-and-park combo for a downtown parking lot that Dallas has been trying to get underway for years now. And while stories about parking garages aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, Todd’s plans are making a particularly idiosyncratic splash. Besides a massive media screen, a Trader Joe’s grocery store, and adding a plethora of parking spots to downtown Dallas, the garage and park won’t cost the city a penny. Todd plans to pay for it all by himself.
Jamie Carpenter, the world-renowned architect who has left his mark on projects like New York City’s Millennium Tower, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and others, recently revealed his latest work, Light Veil, at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl Stadium. The Cotton Bowl Public Art Project, a $25.5 million endeavor aimed at revamping the stadium, included a contest that Carpenter won out for equipping the stadium with a new facade.
It’s a bad year to be an Art Barn. Only two weeks after Rice University demolished its beloved structure, UT Dallas announced plans to close down its own Art Barn, with its exact fate remaining unclear. Architecture critic Mark Lamster, among others, voiced speculation over the building’s shutdown and possible removal from UT Dallas’ campus.
Mark Lamster, Dallas Morning News architecture critic and responsible citizen, chastised the Dallas community for its poor attendance at an April 9 James Carpenter lecture. The 2004 MacArthur Fellow, who was speaking at the Dallas Center for Architecture about his newest installation at the Cotton Bowl, shed light on his genius to a paltry audience of 10. Ten, that is, if Carpenter included himself in the head count.
Crescent Real Estate Group is making a play to bring high-end business tenants to Uptown Dallas—an area better known for twenty somethings living above their means than big-name office tenants. In order to attract this kind of clientele, the developer has hired architect Cesar Pelli to design a dramatic new building that is promising to change the face of the neighborhood.
Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]”
Big spaces, big cities, big freeways. This equation has held ground since the boom of major road developments in the 1970s. But a Dallas group lead by urban designer Patrick Kennedy is fighting that conception. He and his initiative, A New Dallas, are pushing a proposal that has been steadily gaining support since it began two years ago. Interstate 345 is an eight lane, 1.4 mile stretch of elevated highway that serves roughly 200,000 commuters weekly. Kennedy wishes to demolish the structure completely, replacing it with a major surface street, four new parks, $4 billion in new private investment, and homes for 25,000 Dallas residents.
Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present
The Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood Street
Extended through December 2014
The Dallas Museum of Art is celebrating the work of prolific designers and architects from the 1960s to the present with its first comprehensive design exhibition. Some of the featured designers include Robert Venturi, Frank Gehry, Aldo Rossi, Zaha Hadid, and Donald Judd. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s own collection, the exhibition reveals the evolution of forms and ideologies that have shaped international design over the last half century.
“Several of the works on view are recent acquisitions that reflect the continuing expansion of the Museum’s decorative arts and design program to include historic American and European work, as well as contemporary objects of international significance,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. From modern jewelry like The Golden Fleece, to iconic furniture, the exhibition spotlights the extraordinary work of some of the best designers of our time.
Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center was designed with natural sunlight in mind. A roof covered by pierced aluminum screens allows dappled light to enter its art galleries in subtle warmth. The outdoor sculpture garden is open to the elements and a specifically-planted landscape by Peter Walker reaps the benefits of the Texan sun.
Since its construction in 2005, the museum has become an icon of the Dallas Arts District. In 2011, a 42-story condominium building went up across the street, banking on the popularity of Piano’s art haven. While the glazed curved glass facade of “Museum Tower” offers million dollar views of the museum below, it burns the artworks and plants with a directed glare.
Now, a pair of New York–based architects might have a solution.