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(above) The penthouse incorporates a contemporary addition with terraces. (below and bottom) Guest rooms update the historic structure with contemporary finishes. Wind turbines set in the ceiling of the ground-floor Charlie Palmer restaurant alludes to Texas being the nation’s top producer of wind energy, hence the “joule” in the hotel’s name.

a penthouse. A 10-story addition on the adjacent property accommodated specialized operational and support functions not easily housed in the original building, along with some additional guest rooms. While the expansion is clearly subordinate to the original structure, it too used its program elements to maximum effect as evidenced by the wonderful street-level restaurant and stunning rooftop pool terrace. Completed for an approximate construction cost of $52 million, the two buildings incorporate a total of 146,000 square feet. Funding for the project and associated street improvements derived in part through federal tax credits and City of Dallas tax increment financing. The architects took the lead role in procuring city financing and shepherding the project through local, state, and national review processes. Using a recently discovered set of the original drawings, the exterior of the original building was faithfully restored—including rebuilding the beautifully crafted stone base that had been cleaved away in the 1950s. Calling on specialty craftsmen throughout the country, ARCHITEXAS helped contractor Balfour Beatty assemble a team that could recreate what had been lost. The building base is carved limestone, including a massive entry arch embellished with a rope motif at the edges, with cast stone being used on the upper levels. The ground-floor window elements of cast bronze mullions, muntins, doors, and grilles were faithfully recreated. Most interesting is the front facade element that serves as a door to the über-exclusive nightclub inhabiting the basement. What by day appears to be a simple tripartite window with stone wainscot, by night becomes a massive pivoting door, thereby accommodating a completely new function congruent with its National Register status while preserving crucial tax credits. The adjacent addition is of the same general material palette, but more restrained and much more contemporary in attitude—of which it nonetheless has plenty. At the street level, this takes the form of a lively restaurant patio that spills into and energizes the streetscape in a decidedly urban gesture. However, the most memorable gesture happens 10 stories above, where the rooftop pool cantilevers over the street—its clear polymer end creating a jaunty and daring composition. Inside, the historical motifs recede and the vibe becomes decidedly current and cosmopolitan. Stone and dark woods abound, softened with bold area rugs and rich leather club chairs yielding a warm, welcoming environment. A wonderfully minimalist wine vault sculpted from glass and stainless steel provides a sparkling counterpoint which also forms the link to the Charlie Palmer restaurant where the general lobby palette continues. Lighting design and color are used effectively throughout, sometimes exuberantly so, but in ways that are captivating and appropriate. The guest rooms adopt a more serene posture, both in terms of color and materials, with the Italian casework being a signature feature throughout. The building at 1530 Main has once again captured Dallas’ attention— this time as the Joule Hotel. In doing so, it provides a useful reminder that both buildings and cities have the capacity to rejuvenate themselves by evolving in exciting and significant ways. Duncan T. Fulton III, FAIA, is co-founder and managing principal of Good Fulton & Farrell in Dallas.

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Texas Architect March/April 2009: Adaptive Reuse  

Texas Architect, March/April 2009; Official magazine of the Texas Society of Architects|AIA