Dallas Gets It Up

And once again with a crane

Dallas has a tendency to get – excited – about designer labels. We are, after all, home to Neiman Marcus. Yet that excitement extends beyond the clothes on our back and the shoes on our feet. These days, that also applies to Dallas’ architecture.

Drive into Dallas from the west, and you will either cross one or see both Santiago Calatrava-designed bridges. And once you hit the arts district in Uptown, you’ll be inundated.

Sir Norman Foster. Brad Cloepfil. Cesar Pelli. Thom Mayne. Renzo Piano. Rem Koolhaas. I.M. Pei.

Foster + Partners. Allied Works. Morphosis. REX/OMA.

All within spitting distance of one another.

No surprise then that developer Hillwood’s latest proposal – a 70-story tower across from the Perot Museum – has people getting excited. This is not just any tower. This tower has been designed by Sir Norman Foster. Excuse me. I meant Pritzker prize-winning architect Sir Norman Foster.

Because Dallas loves its designer labels.

But what is this costing the local architecture community? Granted – a local firm will be selected as architect of record – and collect their share of the fee (always a good thing). But at the end of the day, as with most of these projects, the local firm won’t be the one remembered.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that Dallas has a design-conscious philanthropic community willing to donate private money to bring these architects to Dallas. However, I’m hard pressed to believe that Dallas’ architecture community lacks the talent to design at the same level. Or have we become so taken with these Starchitects that we’re willing to overlook that talent?

A telling sign – on the Dallas Arts District web site, buildings are either prefaced or associated with the architect who designed them. Except for one. The Crow Collection of Asian Art is simply mentioned as that. No indication that the space was designed by a local architect. Or that the firm he was employed by was a staple of the Dallas architecture scene for 50 years. Simply the Crow Museum.

Immediately followed by “the Nasher Sculpture Center, designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano.”

Creating the buildings that compromise the Arts District is certainly outside of my wheelhouse. However, is there no one in any of the firms in or around Dallas with the ability or the potential to create a building as elegant and unique? Has anyone looked?

Or does that matter anymore? Because we do get excited about our labels.

And this time it’ll be 70 stories high for everyone to see.

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