Dallas Museum of Art
1984 Edward Larrabee Barnes
1993 Edward Larrabee Barnes, addition

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The pivotal component of the Dallas Arts District is Edward Larrabee Barnes’ sprawling Dallas Museum of Art. The building’s trademark barrel vault aligns with Flora Street at this location. A major expansion occurred in 1993, with the completion of the Hamon Building on the museum’s north end. This wing provided the institution with an imposing new entrance and vehicular court facing Woodall Rodgers Freeway, as well as expanded public spaces, temporary exhibition galleries and underground parking. One of the most soothing exterior spaces in downtown is Ed Barnes’ walled sculpture garden at the DMA. Four parallel water walls subtly divide the expansive space into a series of smaller-scaled “rooms,” which are further enriched by landscape architect Dan Kiley’s sensitive landscaping and the placement of modern sculpture. The pervasive presence of falling water provides a refreshing respite to Dallas’ arid climate, and also masks the sounds of city life beyond the garden walls.

Nasher Sculpture Center
2003 Renzo Piano

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When it opened to international acclaim in October 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center was hailed by one critic as “the most radically open art museum in history,” and the most important building for sculpture since the Glyptothek in Munich, completed in 1815 by the great German architect Leo von Klenze. Raymond D. Nasher, developer of Dallas’ famed NorthPark shopping mall, built this $70 million sculpture garden to showcase the foremost private collection of 20th century sculpture in the world. The project was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, winner of the 1998 Pritzker Prize for Architecture, along with the American landscape architect Peter Walker. Visitors enter the garden through a series of five slender sun-shaded pavilions housing galleries for the smaller pieces in the collection, as well as a bookstore, café, auditorium and offices. The pavilion roofs are shallow curved-glass vaults, supported by a meticulously detailed stainless steel structure. Above these wall-to-wall skylights reside cast aluminum sunscreens that permit the highest level of ambient northern light into the galleries. Approximately 30 large-scale works by such artists as Miro, di Suvero, Picasso, Calder, Serra, Rodin, Lichtenstein, and Moore are on display at any one time.

Trammell Crow Center and Crow Collection of Asian Art
1984 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
1998 Booziotis & Co, renovation

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The Trammell Crow Center was deigned by SOM partner Richard Keating. This 50-story granite and glass campanile is located on the edge of the Arts District. The tower’s cruciform shape, classical composition, distinctive silhouette and richly animated façade introduced a new high-rise vernacular to the Dallas skyline when it was completed in 1984. At its base, the Trammell Crow Center is surrounded by lush sculpture gardens and a low-rise pavilion (housing the Crow Collection of Asian Art), both of which help to integrate the huge development with the pedestrian scale of Flora Street.

The Flora Street pavilion at the base of the fifty-story Trammell Crow Center serves as the home of the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, a permanent installation of one of the most important private collections of Asian art in the United States. Three light-filled gallery spaces were renovated in 1998 to accommodate over 600 rare objects reflecting the cultures of China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia.

Belo Mansion
c. 1890 Architect unknown
1900 Hubbell and Green, renovation
1978 Burson, Hendricks & Walls, restoration and expansion

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The current home of the Dallas Bar Association, the Belo Mansion was built c. 1890 by Coleonel A. H. Belo, founder of the Dallas Morning News. The builder was David Morgan, who completed the new Dallas County Courthouse in 1893. In the late 1800s, Ross Avenue was one of Dallas’ most prestigious addresses, where the city’s most successful bankers, manufacturers, merchants and lawyers resided. A replica of an earlier family home in Salem, North Carolina, the Classical Revival residence was stylistically different from the High Victorian homes on Ross Avenue. In 1962, the Belo Mansion was leased to the funeral home operators George Loudermilk and Will Sparkman and later gained notoriety whne the bullet-riddled body of Clyde Barrow (of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde) was presented for public viewing in the front parlor. The mansion was purchased from the family in 1978 and gracefully restored and expanded by the Dallas Bar Association in 1978.

Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe
1902 Nicholas Clayton
1996 Thomas & Booziotis, addition
2006 Architexas/Tarpley Associates, restoration

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This High Victorian Gothic cathedral was dedicated in 1902 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas. Pope Leo XIII had previously established a new diocese in the city in 1890, at the request of the Bishop of Galveston, who found it increasingly difficult to administer the area’s growing Catholic population 300 miles distant. The orignial architect, Nicholas Clayton of Dallas, envisioned a daringly original and picturesque composition of the Cathedral by designing an imposing 224-foot-high bell tower and steeple to mark the corner of Ross Avenue and Pearl Street, and contrasting this with a shorter tower and spire at the other corner. The effect is startling and dynamic. The cathedral’s visual impact is further enhanced by the vivid contrast between the dark red brick and white stone trim as well as by the exuberant detailing in the tower’s upper stages. Prior to the cathedral’s dramatic restoration, a new Pastoral Center was constructed adjacent to the church. Completed in 1996, this addition is perhaps the finest example of post-modern architecture in Dallas.

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
1989 I.M. Pei

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The 1980s ended on a cultural high note in Dallas with the opening of the Meyerson Symphony Center, home of the 109-year-old Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Pritzker Prize-winning I.M. Pei’s project provided the Arts District with the critical mass and architectural distinction it needed to be recognized as a viable entity. The epic confrontation between architect Pei and famed acoustician Russell Johnson produced both a distinguished building and a hall with extraordinary acoustics. Today, the Meyerson ranks among the world’s great concert halls. By exploiting the Late Baroque as a general stylistic source, Pei achieved a space of Piranesian grandeur: mysterious, sensual and infinite. By contrast, the 2,062-seat Eugene McDermott Concert Hall is a warm and richly detailed room notable for its acoustical gymnastic devices, including the suspended movable canopy over the stage and ceiling-level reverberation chambers.

AT&T Performing Arts Center Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House
2009 Foster + Partners, Norman Foster

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The striking design by Foster + Partners (Sir Norman Foster and Spencer de Grey) features a lozenge-shaped performance hall and glass-clad lobby suspended within a monumental shade canopy that covers most of the site. The 2,200-seat auditorium is an interpretation of the classic horseshoe configuration found in many of the world’s great opera halls, including La Scala and Covent Garden. The interior of the hall is arranged in ascending tiers and has been engineered with flexible acoustics and stage configurations to accommodate performances of the Dallas Opera and the Texas Ballet, as well as Broadway shows. The building’s lobby is encased within an expansive, 60-foot-high wall of glass, creating a transparency between the opera hall and the surrounding Sammons Park and providing patrons with sweeping views of the downtown skyline. Overhead, the canopy’s fixed metal louvers provide optimal shade for the glass façade and the exterior spaces throughout the day, taming the harsh Texas sun to create a microclimate around the building. The Winspear is an epic building – one that not only has a grand physical presence, enhanced by the 1,400 deep-red glass panels that encapsulate the Margaret McDermott Performance Hall, but also one that creates a civic space that is accessible and inviting.

AT&T Performing Arts Center Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
2009 REX/OMA, Joshua Prince-Ramos (partner in charge) and Rem Koolhaas

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In contrast to the predominant sprawl of the various arts venues in the district stands the shimmering, 12-story Wyly Theatre, a radically conceived reinvention of the traditional theater house by its designers, Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramos. Home to the Dallas Theater Center, the Wyly Theatre is one of the most innovative new theater buildings in the world. It eschews the traditional arrangement of a theater’s support spaces wrapped around the stage house and, instead, organizes them vertically into a stacked design, tightly packed within the building’s roughly square footprint. Drastic flexibility is achieved through the facility’s advanced, mechanized “superfly” system, which allows both scenery and suspended seating balconies to be ”flown,” or lifted out of sight to create proscenium stage, thrust stage and flat-floor configurations. At ground level, the exterior curtain walls of the 600-seat Potter-Rose Performance Hall are of acoustic-grade transparent glass with integral shade and vision controls. The upper floors of the Wyly Theatre are clad in a combination of six different aluminum tube extrusions, which has the effect of wrapping the building in a giant metal stage curtain.

Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts
1922 Lang and Witchell
2008 Booziotis & Company, restoration
2008 Allied Works’ Brad Cloepfil, addition

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Architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works completed an ambitious $55 million expansion in 2008 that provided critically needed studio and performance space for a school whose impressive list of graduates includes Erykah Badu, Norah Jones and Christian Schumann. Cloepfil’s design scheme effectively captures the spirit and energy of the school by organizing the arts curriculum clusters (dance, music, theater and visual arts) into a series of interlocking “suites” along multi-level circulation spines activated by natural light. The classrooms, studios and the 475-seat Montgomery Arts Theater are arranged around an outdoor performance courtyard, which serves as the focal point of the school. The architect grasped the opportunity to forge a vital physical connection with the Arts District by opening the campus to the Sammons Park and the Winspear Opera House, located across Jack Evans Street.

St. Paul United Methodist Church
1927 Architect Unknown
2010 Good Fulton and Farrell, restoration

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St. Paul United Methodist Church has historically played a central role in the cultural, social and educational development of Dallas’ African-American community. The site was purchased in 1874, near the center of Dallas’ Freedman’s Town and the current sanctuary was constructed between 1901 and 1927. A Prairie Gothic-styled building with Victorian influences, the church features carved stone panels above the main arched openings, and thirty-five stained glass windows. The asymmetrical auditorium floor and seating balcony slope to create excellent site lines, achieving a feeling of intimacy within the worship space. The church has undertaken a major restoration and renovation project, which will be completed in 2010.

One Arts Plaza
2007 Morrison Seifert Murphy

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The 24-story mid-rise tower consists of an above-grade parking garage at its base, with 18 floors of offices and condominiums rising above it. Although it is asymmetrical in its composition, the building is visually centered along Flora Street through the placement of a generous pedestrian and vehicular plaza at street level and the alignment of a projecting “square” of condominium balconies on the five upper floors. At night, this square is outlined in LED lighting, providing a dominant vertical focal point at the eastern terminus of the Flora Street axis. The circular plaza is defined by two-story wings which project from the base of the tower and continue the lines and massing of the lower-scaled structures envisioned along the length of Flora Street. With its five restaurants and a 7-Eleven convenience store, One Arts Plaza has introduced a critical measure of pedestrian activity that has always been missing from the Arts District. It serves as a successful model for the district’s remaining undeveloped commercial sites. Planning is currently underway for two future phases of the project, which will bring additional density to the area.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre
1930 Ralph Bryan and Walter Sharp
2008 Moody-Nolan/Group One/ VAJ, adaptive use and renovation

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Located on the extension of Flora Street directly behind One Arts Plaza is the former Moorland YMCA. Built in 1930, this institution provided critically needed recreational facilities not previously available to the African Americans in Dallas. Today the building functions as the home of the nationally acclaimed Dallas Black Dance Theater, the city’s oldest continuously operating dance company. Renovation of the historic Moorland YMCA provided the troupe with offices, dance practice facilities, community meeting space and dance studios. A new entrance was also created on the building’s southeast side.

AT&T Performing Arts Center Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park
2009 Michel Desvigne (Paris); JJR (Chicago)

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This ten-acre park, designed by the French landscape architect, Michel Desvigne, is the unifying element for the various venues comprising the AT&T Performing Arts Center. The largest park in the Arts District is conceived as the integration of a public square and a garden. Its signature feature is a large reflecting pool adjacent to the Winspear Opera House that is partially covered by the shade of the Winspear‘s vast, overhead canopy. Shaded lawns located along Flora Street and between the Winspear and the Meyerson consist of natural gardens planted with native grasses and perennials that will provide visual focal points throughout the year.

Coming Up

Cirque de la Symphonie


Jazz in the Atrium

Jazz in the Atrium

Beethoven’s Fifth


Dallas Symphony Christmas Pops


The people who make this happen