Texas Architect July/Aug 2011: Placemaking
The July/August 2011 edition explores the theme of “placemaking” through feature projects designed to foster a sense of a greater whole instead of just a single building. Such a comprehensive approach to architecture requires a concerted effort to understand what works best for a neighborhood, an urban center, or an isolated development. Feature articles spotlight the Wylie Municipal Complex, the Omni Hotel and Residences in Fort Worth, the City of Grand Prairie’s The Summit, the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Bayou Bend, and the Byrne-Reed House in Austin. Other articles include a commentary on the loss of the idyllic greenspace in front of the Kimbell Art Museum now that construction is underway to expand the museum, plans for new bayfront development in Corpus Christi, and the architectural improvements brought to tiny Albany due to its up-and-coming arts scene.
C O M M E N T A R Y Requiem for a Lawn With the addition to the Kimbell, let’s admit, some of the magic will be lost by J. BRANTLEY HIGHTOWER, AIA I CONSIDER MYSELF INCREDIBLY FORTUNATE to have grown up a short drive from the Kimbell Art Museum. While it might be a bit of a stretch to say that Louis Kahn’s vaulted masterpiece was the reason I decided to become an architect, it certainly did provide a compelling example of what great architecture could be. As I learned more about the Kimbell in architecture school, I began parking not in the sunken eastern lot but on the street between Kahn’s building and the Amon Carter Museum. This western approach was the one originally envisioned as the main entry and I felt like it was a little secret between Kahn, the building, and me. A key part of this sequence was crossing the broad, tree-lined meadow that served as the Kimbell’s front lawn for almost 40 years. I have come to appreciate this lawn as an important foil to the massive and dignified Kimbell Art Museum. While the tree lined lawn was originally planted as a mall centered on the landmark tower of the neighboring Will Rogers Memorial Center, the integration of the greenspace into the overall design of the Kimbell effectively wove the new building harmoniously into its existing urban context. Perhaps more important, Kahn’s plan preserved an open field of activity for the city of Fort Worth. In my years of crossing it as I made my way to the museum I have seen kids flying kites and dogs catching Frisbees. I have seen families engaged in picnics and fly-fishermen practicing their cast. I have seen the Kimbell’s front lawn play host to several games of touch football and at least one impromptu cricket match. 26 T E X A S A R C H I T E C T 7 / 8 2 0 1 1