Facades+ Dallas will dive into the trends reshaping Texas’s largest metro area

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Texas has more people annually than any other state in the country. With nearly 8 million residents, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest urban area in the state. On March 1st, The Architect’s Newspaper brings metropolitan architecture and development firms together for Facades + Dallas, a fast-paced dialogue focused on the region’s tremendous growth and the projects it is transforming. Participants include 5G Studio Collaborative, CallisonRTKL, Harwood International, Merriman Anderson Architects, the CDC, LA Fuess Partners, Ibanez Shaw, Omniplan, DSGN Associates, Buchanan Architecture, Shipley Architects and Urban Edge Developers.

Lauren Cadieux, Associate at 5G Studio Collaborative, and Michael Friebele, Associate at CallisonRTKL, will jointly chair the conference.

In the run-up to Facades + Dallas, AN sat down with Friebele to discuss trends within Dallas and CallisonRTKL’s ongoing projects in the region and around the world.

The architect’s newspaper: Which facade-controlled projects does CallisonRTKL initially plan in Dallas and Texas as a whole?

Michael Friebele: We are an interesting office insofar as we have a long-term local reach here in Dallas-Fort Worth, but also a broad depth of work around the globe. We often find it most interesting for us to take advantage of the international experience and find ways to apply these lessons during our work at home and in the other direction as well. The collaboration between offices in CallisonRTKL really makes this possible.

From a conceptual point of view, our work on a vertical campus in downtown Dallas aligned with many of the lessons we learned overseas, from responding to location to contextual integration, and combined these attributes with an evolving business model of the company. Ultimately, the concept was geared towards an affordable housing project to the east of the site, maintaining a viewing corridor through the gesture of a loop that ultimately became the symbol of the company’s programmatic model. It’s one of a number of projects we’re looking forward to in Texas.

Callison RTKL’s vertical campus imports many aspects of style and performance from overseas projects. (Courtesy Callison RTKL)

From the facade standpoint, our hotel group is working on a Grand Hyatt hotel in Kuwait that is currently under construction. The facade concept of self-shading finds a balance between the rough climate of the region and the demand for wide views. The playing field leads to a natural placement of the photovoltaics at the bottom of the bay, providing a highly transparent opening with minimal direct solar heat gain. The same team recently completed the core and shell of the Maike Business Center and Grand Hyatt in Xi’an. Here two towers were connected by a belt tie in order to limit the lateral loads and at the same time to serve as a critical program connection between the hotel and the office towers. The facade was a simple extruded, serrated shape connected in the middle by a vertical canvas that emphasized the composition.

Facade detail of the Grand HyattCallisonRTKL’s Grand Hyatt has a unique angled facade to reduce heat by nearly 50%. (Courtesy CallisonRTKL)

I am currently working on the design of two large-scale China-based projects. OCT Chengdu is on the larger side with a dominant facade facing an important convergence of traffic in the city. The facade plays into this movement with a series of fins that peel off towards the top to reveal the activity of the mall behind it, activating what is traditionally a hard face. We have continued to work on optimizing this system. This project is currently under construction and should be completed in a few years. On the other hand, we recently started work on an Audubon center in Zhengzhou. The concept is to combine the program and the landscape under an observation ring. We worked with Thornton Tomasetti to realize the ring as a completely unsupported element above the waterfront with full-height curved glazing that leaves the public behind as if the visitor were a part of the facade experience. The Zhengzhou project will start construction in a few months and will be completed by the middle of next year.

AN: What are the unique opportunities and challenges for architects and designers in Dallas?

MF: Mark Lamster summed it up well in an April 2016 article in the Dallas Morning News: “Dallas Architecture is a joke (but it doesn’t have to be).”

In my opinion, the potential in Dallas is to be proactive, not reactive, to challenging and evolving typologies, but this does bring some level of investment and risk. We can draw lessons from two organizations that I believe have made the most impact on the city in BC Workshop and Better Block. Both groups were recognized for their innovative approaches to typologies and community engagement. The cottages at Hickory Crossing are a well-known example on the south side of town.

Hickory Crossing The cottages at Hickory Crossing offer an innovative approach to tackling homelessness. (Courtesy of bcWORKSHOP)

Engaging our value as architects and designers to everyone involved in a project, from the developer to the community, is key, but change also depends on us getting out and trying something without permission. As Dallas moves on, there isn’t a better place to test and experiment, but we really have to commit to that, save for a few examples. All in all, it really comes back to the basics of why we do this profession and to look again for its meaning.

A: What ongoing developments in Dallas do you see as the most exciting in terms of facade innovation and overall impact on the city?

MF: There have been some notable changes in downtown Dallas, from work by Architexas on the Joule Hotel, to Merriman Anderson’s work on the Statler Hilton, to more recent remodeling of 400 Record by Gensler. Each of them, among other things, defined the process of historical rehabilitation in Texas in many ways, but also changed the program in all cases. Almost overnight there is an evolved rhythm to respect the past and redefine the urban realm. The Statler and 1401 Elm are the largest and most difficult cases of conservation in the city. Statler was in the making for many years. Historic innovations in the 1950s proved to be quite challenging in the renovation of the building. The results of maintaining such a celebrated form and period in rehab are nothing short of an accomplishment. 1401 Elm is currently being revised. The marble is currently off site for rehab. It has stalled a few times over the past few years, but hopefully it will make an important contribution again.

Both projects give an insight into a city that is continually working to appreciate its history more every day. We hope to throw more bright spots on this discussion with our first panel.

More information on Facades + Dallas can be found here.

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