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Architecture: There's still time to amp up design of Dallas convention center hotel

Post Time:Aug 04,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:248

Dallas is all about dazzle, making a mark, putting on a show.

Our skyline glows with light-trimmed buildings and a huge flashing ball. Our Arts District has one of the world's densest concentrations of buildings by star architects.

We drive fancy cars – well, maybe you do – sport designer fashions and keep plastic surgeons busy.

But we may be welcoming tens of thousands of visitors a year with a convention center hotel that City Council member Angela Hunt says looks like "a glorified, ugly Holiday Inn." Construction could begin by mid-October.

In computer illustrations, the new hotel is projected as a big, boomerang-shaped building at Young and Lamar streets, north of the Dallas Convention Center. It's shown clad in a crazy-quilt pattern of glass panels in different shades of blue. But there's no tactile articulation, either vertical or horizontal, to break up those vast sweeps of glass. And the building is pulled too far back on the site to engage Lamar Street and the sidewalk.

Alas, it looks like a partner to another major welcoming facility, D/FW Airport's international terminal, aptly decried by architecture critic David Dillon as "big, bland and boring" and "all volume and no articulation."

And this is for a construction cost of $346 million, only $8 million less than the combined cost of the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre, both by major international architects, opening in October.

For conventioneers, an airport, a city hall, a convention center and its hotel are some of a city's defining features. They say what it's about, whether it's edgy or cautious, daring or dull. And chances to build these signature buildings come but once a lifetime.

We blew it with the D/FW terminal. With a convention center that's a confusing jumble of several different projects, we really need a strong, coherent hotel.

At least details of the hotel, projected to open early in 2012 under the Omni marquee, aren't entirely set in stone. There's still a chance to make this big building – 27 stories, with 1,000 rooms and 83,000 square feet of meeting space – better.

Acknowledging complaints about the cladding, Scott Lowe, managing director of the architecture firm 5Gstudio Collaborative, says, "We are looking at options currently, as the budget is still a significant driver in what this façade can be. Also, Omni has some input that needs to be considered still."

In any case, Lowe says, the exterior will be a curtain wall, "with some type of articulation." He adds, "The idea of 'pattern' is still there, but very much in flux at the moment on exactly how this idea will ultimately play out."

Other details still to be finalized, he says, include "landscaping, sidewalks, terraces, dining terrace, porte cochere, drop-off and interior design."

Source: dallasnewsAuthor: shangyi

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