Just Remember, We Were Warned: The Arts District Wasn't Going to Be "A Way of Life"

Even before the AT&T Performing Arts Center was finished, we were told: "Dallas might have to accept the arts district as a successful destination, not a way of life." That was more than two years ago. After that, the hits kept on coming, with the most recent being this deep dig outta Chicago. Which prompted this follow-up from The Economist:

Is it enough to build these gigantic monuments to modernity (in an otherwise not-so-modern and remote place) and assume that the razzle-dazzle will lure the tourists? Dallas's experiment illustrates the flaws in developments that consider the needs of architecture at the expense of people. A culture district without the glue of wandering pedestrians (or an atmosphere of working artists; or let's face it, streets) may struggle to earn its keep.

Which prompts this follow-up-follow-up from Patrick "Car-Free" Kennedy:

The Arts District is "off to the side," currently "a roadside attraction," a "billboard along a freeway" that is more akin to a supersized string of fast food joints to pick up your daily dose of culture at the drive-thru. It is built of a mindset that "location, location, location" no longer applies, except that location is still the primary factor in built permanence. I make the point to walk through it as often as possible, not to admire beauty but to think what could've been and what still might be.

Either way, still looking forward to Friday night.

Update at 4:40 p.m.: Blair Kamin, author of the original Chicago Tribune piece that started this spiral, just posted this response from Kerry Hayes, special assistant to the mayor in Memphis, who actually hasn't visited the Arts District but writes nonetheless that "it would seem that the powers that be in Dallas are working at cross purposes with themselves, or perhaps simply measuring what they're doing by the wrong yard stick."

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