Monday, March 21, 2011

Architectural Petting Zoo

Last month, Chicago Tribune journalist and architecture critic, Blair Kamin spoke at the Dallas Architecture Forum about his new book Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age. While Kamin was here he took some time to travel around our fair city - most notably the Dallas Arts District and the future Woodall Rodgers deck park.

Kamin reflected on his experience in Dallas and what he thinks of our newly expanded Arts District on his Cityscapes blog. The quote that simultaneously made me laugh and wince was this:

"Is it a good idea to organize arts buildings in such a clear and concentrated fashion? Or does the more mixed-up Chicago way make better sense? I ask because, despite its impressive architectural firepower, the Dallas Arts District can be an exceedingly dull place. There are no bookstores, few restaurants outside those in the museums, and not a lot of street life, at least when there are no performances going on. Even some of the architects who’ve designed buildings here privately refer to the district as an architectural petting zoo — long on imported brand-name bling and short on homegrown-urban vitality."

OUCH. That kinda hurt Blair. But there is some truth to your ruminations. Dallas is struggling to bring people back to the downtown core. On an average day when there isn't a show or Savor Dallas happening, the arts district and elsewhere in downtown is pretty dead.

But don't count us out yet. We are just getting started. Call me an optimist, but I think we have got somethings in the pipeline to start bringing the people back downtown. Like that deck park. If we can get the law school off the ground and the Statler Hilton is renovated, there will be some more people interested in hanging around after the work day is done and contributing to a live/work culture.

Nothing is perfect. I question the need for another high rise tower catering to the uber rich. I am concerned about the dead zone known as Victory Park. I question the lack of public transportation near the arts district and the dwindling available parking.

Rome wasn't built in a day and I'm sure Chicago's bustling downtown city wasn't either. So cut Dallas a little slack and give us a little time to grow and nurture what we've got.

But I do have to agree that the architectural petting zoo comment was pretty funny.

1 comment:

Dana@Mid2Mod said...

Wow...barbed comments from someone who just enjoyed the city's hospitality and one who admits he's never been here at all.