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‘Home on the Range’ b y J a m e s K i r k p a t r i c k , AIA

p r o j e c t  Doss Heritage and Culture Center of Parker County, Weatherford c l i e n t  Civic

Development

a r c h i t e c t  Hahnfeld

Hoffer Stanford

d e s i g n t e a m  Robert

E. Ayers, AIA; Ed Jackson, AIA; Eric Claycamp, AIA

c o n t r a c t o r  SEDALCO

Construction Services

c o n s u l t a n t s  Dunaway

Associates, LP (civil); Baird, Hampton, & Brown,

Inc. (MEP); Electro Acoustics (audio visual); Metro Structural Consultants (structural); Oliver R. Windham (landscape); Riddle & Goodnight, Inc. (cost); Acoustic Design Associates (acoustic) p h o t o g r a p h e r  Chad

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t e x a s

David

a r c h i t e c t

Weatherford, the county seat of Parker County, is the headwaters of the West. When you imagine cowboys driving cattle through a small town in the “Old West,” Weatherford could easily be that town. To preserve that rich history, the James and Dorothy Doss Heritage and Culture Center was created in 1975 in one room in the Weatherford Public Library. In 2006 the museum expanded into a new $5 million complex that houses cultural and historical artifacts of Parker County’s heritage. The 23,000-square-foot, multi-level facility is tucked within a densely wooded, seven-acre site on the campus of Weatherford College. The architecture of the new Center captures the regional vernacular while accommodating a conference hall, which hosts on average 30 events a month, and three galleries—one for its permanent collection, one for rotating exhibits, and the Mary Martin gallery. Martin, who was born in Weatherford in 1913 and achieved worldwide renown as an actress of stage and screen, may best be remembered for her Broadway roles as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and as the star of Peter Pan. Her son, Larry Hagman, himself an actor most notorious as J.R. Ewing on television’s Dallas, spoke at the opening of the Doss Center: “The architecture of the Center is truly awe-inspiring. It reflects all that is Parker County.” Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford, architects for the Doss Center, wisely made use of materials native to the area. As might be expected, given the hardiness of Parker County’s pioneers, the spirit of the building is lean and direct. The structure, with its long, open porch is reminiscent of the regional ranch vernacular. The walls, constructed of local fieldstone, are an appropriate organic extension of the site’s natural wooded, cross-timbers habitat. The wooded site makes use of native plantings, and the approach prepares the visitor to experience the Center. The architects thoughtfully provided each of the main galleries with an area where visitors can rest indoors and reflect on what they’ve seen both inside and outside. The rich, golden-brown hardwood floors are made of local mesquite. As one walks through the galleries, viewing the numerous collections, it’s very easy to feel “home on the range.” The interior’s metal A-framing recalls that of a barn or other agricultural structure. The roots of this community and its heritage are not easily forgotten in this environment, though the Center is equipped with state-of-the art technology to help tell that story. Video and audio systems include a theater screen and an audio system that can be heard throughout the complex. Located in the front of the building, in an area appropriately named “Windmill Plaza,” stands a windmill (part replica, part original) produced

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Texas Architect July/Aug 2008: Regional Response