Letâs celebrate some of the highlights and lament the misfires.
Hereâs a look at big moments in architecture as we celebrate the highs, lows and uh-ohs of the departing decade in Dallas culture, 2010-2019.
Growing pains in the Arts District
Itâs easy to take the Arts District for granted â easy, because even after a decade of building it still has a tendency to feel, well, kind of dead. Itâs not for a shortage of big-name architects. Additions to the district over the last 10 years have included Norman Fosterâs AT&T Performing Arts Center, OMAâs Wyly Theatre, SOMâs Moody Performance Hall, and Allied Worksâ expansion of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. A bevy of less-impressive towers are filling in around these signature projects, with the ill-conceived Museum Tower being the most notorious. While all this building has gone on, a master plan for the district has sat on a shelf, waiting for implementation. Most cities, one should note, make the urban plan, and then allow for the building. Here, we do it in reverse and pay the price, which is empty streets. Still, we have some really nice buildings, and with the new development, there is potential for new life.
The decadeâs best new buildings in Dallas
Rather than a single champion, we spread the accolades among a group of projects that collectively make Dallas a better place: Test Pavilion at the Dallas Arboretum (Buchanan Architecture), the St. Michael and All Angels Columbarium (Max Levy), the Temple Emanu-El expansion (Cunningham Architects), College Park Pavilion (SnĂžhetta), the Cottages at Hickory Crossing (BC Workshop), Webb Chapel Park Pavilion (Cooper Joseph Studio), the Wyly Theatre (OMA), the Booker T. Washington expansion (Allied Works), the Warehouse (Droese Raney), Pacific Plaza Pavilion (HKS), the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center at the Greenhill School (Weiss/Manfredi), the Science Building at the Lamplighter School (Marlon Blackwell), Bullion Restaurant (Gensler), 1217 Main St. (5G Studio), Rolex Building (Kengo Kuma), and Fire Station 27 (Perkins & Will).
In a fit of skyline-altering extravagance that we will probably never see again, Dallas managed to open not one but two bridges designed by Spanish shape-wizard Santiago Calatrava, each named for a beloved matriarch named Margaret. Like most everything built by Calatrava, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and the Margaret McDermott Bridge were massively expensive, dogged by construction problems, needlessly grandiose, uniformly white and â arguably â beautiful. At least, with the former, there was a purpose in the ostentation: the creation of a signal gateway to West Dallas, which has rapidly gentrified since the bridgeâs inauguration. Of course, despite the big price tag, the bridge made no accommodation for pedestrians or cyclists, a fact only partially ameliorated by the transformation of the erstwhile Continental Avenue Bridge into a car-free elevated park. Call that a victory.
The fall of sprawlâs thrall?
Yes, the cookie-cutter developments continued to sprout in the hinterlands, but the younger set returned to the city, and even those who remained out in the burbs clamored for reform. In Plano, in McKinney, in Frisco, and points beyond, suburban centers began emphasizing walkability and rail connection to the city, even as they remained principally automotive in nature. (They also became a lot more diverse.) Even Jerry Jones, always with a keen eye for opportunity, noticed the trend, the result being his own mini-city devoted to football: the Star, an antiseptic paradise for Cowboys fans.
The eternal quest for a Fair Park plan
Did you have a plan to save Fair Park? It seemed like everyone did during the 2010s. There were plans, and then more plans, and more plans after that. Every year, we heard lamentations about the state of affairs at the cityâs crown jewel â too much concrete, no connection with the neighbors, underuse, decaying landmarks, flooding â and every year there was another plan to save the place that went exactly nowhere. It looked like we might just get through the entire decade with zero progress until, late in 2018, the city finally â finally â signed a 20-year deal with a private management firm with a solid history of running parks. Will this be the answer? The problems are still real, but thereâs hope. And a $15 million