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Another day, another review of the AT&T Performing Arts Center -- this one from Nicolai Ouroussoff of The New York Times, whose assessment graces the top of this morning's Arts section. (You remember Nic -- he's the one who called Cowboys Stadium "a somewhat crude reworking of old ideas" last month. And he was right.) He's far more impressed after this trip to town: He's stunned that the Dee and Charles Wyly Theater, which made its bow last night with a Bruce Willis howdy-do, is "so good" given that it was born out of a break-up between Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, who no longer speak. The coolest part? The theater's ever-changing interior, of course, capable of accommodating productions enormous and intimate and in between. Still, a few complaints: "The walls and ceiling of an upper-level terrace are covered in artificial turf, a superficial flourish that is out of character with the rest of the design." And: "The building's unevenly striated aluminum surface, meanwhile, feels dull and its facades surprisingly tame."
As for Norman Foster's Winspear -- where, we learned yesterday, the seats are wide enough to accommodate big bottoms -- he says the lobby is a reworking of Charles Garnier's Paris Opera, while the main performance hall "is an elegant if familiar space that is more about putting you at ease than about sex appeal." (In other words: It's no Walt Disney Concert Hall, but what is?) So, the final verdict?
Taken with the Wyly Theater's design, [the Winspear] is a welcome contribution to this city's growing cultural district, helping to fill it out with the kind of strong, serious forms that can begin to give Dallas the cultural presence that it has never had. The no-nonsense approach of these buildings -- one cautiously experimental, the other more backward looking -- should fit nicely in our new era of cautious restraint, even if they were designed when the excesses were still not over.
There's also a slide show. Its headline: "A Cultural Heart for Big D." Aw.