It was something of a surprise when Parkland Hospital officials announced that, though they're finishing construction on a brand new $1.27 billion facility, the decaying old campus across Harry Hines would need to remain open as an outpatient medical clinic.
It was an costly proposition. Parkland would have to spend $25 million refurbishing two buildings, then build a pedestrian bridge across Harry Hines, linking the old hospital to the new.
And of course, a simple, utilitarian span wouldn't do.
Parkland's board decided it needed an extra flourish, a signature architectural element commensurate with the size and majesty of the new hospital. Never mind that it would bump the cost from $12 million to $18 million. And the unique $6 million embellishment officials decided on? A swooping Calatrava-like arch.
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"We're beginning to have arches all over the city," board member Patricia Rodriguez Gorman told The Dallas Morning News as the design was unveiled yesterday. "It really is a cohesive statement to have an arch ourselves."
Whether the arch actually gets built depends on whether the Parkland Foundation can raise private money to pay for it, which is no sure thing given the $34 million it has yet to raise for the construction of the actual hospital and the difficulty of getting philanthropists to hand their cash to an institution that's been so badly tarnished. But foundation head David Krause remains optimistic.
"I think it would be a very attractive naming opportunity," he told a board committee yesterday, according to the News. "There's a lot of flash in this town. Somebody might be interested in the bridge."
What he and Parkland officials seems not to realize is that they've made one disastrous miscalculation. To design the bridge, they've hired a respectable but-not-really-famous architecture firm out of Atlanta. And no self-respecting Dallas philanthropist wants to put his or her name on an American bridge.