Dallas Museum of Art announces finalists for major expansion project
The Dallas Museum of Art has announced a shortlist of six teams that will compete to reimagine its Art District campus, and if you were hoping for the unexpected (or a Black or Latinx architect) you will be disappointed. A plum commission, it had drawn broad interest from both established and younger, more experimental firms emboldened by the museum’s open call for submissions.
The museum’s selection committee, however, has leaned in to the tried and true — with one notable exception — choosing a group of firms with distinguished records of museum building.
“The chosen teams feature luminaries but also smaller, less-known but gifted studios,” said museum director AgustÍn Arteaga, in a statement, calling the group “an exhilarating mix of talent and design approach.”
David Chipperfield, the London-based winner of the most recent Pritzker Prize, is widely respected for his precise and well-crafted modern design. His museum work includes the celebrated expansion of the St. Louis Museum of Art in 2013, but he was notably replaced last year by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had commissioned him to design a new modern wing. The Chipperfield team includes the landscape architects James Corner Field Operations and the design firm Pentagram.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York-based architects known best for the High Line. The firm’s museum work includes the 2019 expansion of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Last year, the firm unveiled an overhaul plan for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kalita Humphreys Theater, a project that has stirred considerable controversy for both its projected cost (north of $300 million) and its intrusion into park space. The DS+R team includes the landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, designers of the proposed park between the Trinity levees.
Johnston Marklee, the Los Angeles firm of partners Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, architects of the crisp-lined 2018 Menil Drawing Institute in Houston. The firm would be joined by landscape architects Hargreaves Jones, whose recent Dallas work includes the redesign of Carpenter Park.
Michael Maltzan Architecture, another distinguished Los Angeles architect and design firm, most recently of that city’s Sixth Street Viaduct. The Maltzan team includes landscape architects Studio Zewde and the structural engineer Guy Nordenson.
Weiss/Manfredi, the New York-based architects whose Dallas work includes a performing arts center for the Greenhill School. Weiss/Manfredi have also been commissioned to remake the decommissioned Dawson State Jail as a welcome center for the proposed Trinity Park. Their team includes landscape architects Hood Design Studio.
Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, a Madrid-based practice led by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano, designers of numerous museum projects in Europe. Their design team is joined by the landscape architects SWA, whose Dallas work includes the design of Pacific Plaza.
The outlier in this group is Nieto Sobejano, who are virtual unknowns in the United States, while the other five have substantial reputations and long experience working on complex building projects in the United States.
The winner will certainly have a challenge before it. The museum’s goals include adding exhibition space to accommodate several promised collections comprising more than 1,000 works; improving navigation; improving visibility and connection within the Arts District; and updating its outdated infrastructural systems. Rehabilitating the museum’s crumbling sculpture garden, a landmark design by Dan Kiley, should also be a priority. That’s a lot to ask, even with a budget pegged at $150 million to $175 million.
The conceptual question facing the design teams is exactly how to approach Edward Larrabee Barnes’ museum, an austere work of modernism built in 1984 and expanded by Barnes in 1993. Arteaga, clearly, considers it obsolete and would like something with more pizzazz. “It is time for our building to evolve to meet the current and future needs of our diverse and expansive collections and communities,” he said, when the museum announced this competition.
Barnes’ design is not without its virtues, however compromised they have become over the years, and the design teams would be well advised to embrace and work with its qualities — restraint, clarity, a sense of progression — rather than eliminate them entirely. The six selected teams will discuss their visions at a public forum at the museum on May 13. A public exhibition of their proposed schemes will be held in July, with a winner announced in August. Each team will receive a $50,000 honorarium and $10,000 for design expenses.