Yesterday I got a call from Todd Howard -- namesake of t. howard + associates, president of the American Institute of Architects Dallas chapter and former board member of the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund (with my dad, full disclosure). Turns out he wanted to address some of the Friends of Unfair Park's comments concerning the AIA's veil-the-Statler contest about which I wrote yesterday. Howard was a little concerned that some of the comments were a little too down on the endeavor, which AIA, Mayor Tom Leppert and DowntownDallas hope will actually shed a little glowing light on the progress being made on that end of downtown, once little more than parking lots and empty buildings smelling of, um, summer.
"DowntownDallas contacted us and asked if we'd help out with the process," Howard says. "There are a lot of architects who are passionate about the building, myself included, and Preservation Dallas and Marcel Quimby and even Willis Winters. We also wanted to be sensitive to what's being asked of the AIA."
"We need to be sensitive to the fact we have a new downtown park opening and pick up on those initiative," he says. "The city is making an effort to open up some downtown parks to kind of bring people downtown, and I think you have to admit that along that frontage there, you could do some nice complimentary design. You can do a nice screen that compliments the building, that ties it in with the park and that may honestly open more people's eyes to the possibility of the Statler. Just the publicity raises awareness.
"There are a lot of talented designers in this town, and I think we're going to be pleasant surprised with some of the solutions presented. We'll leave it up to the public to judge, but I don't think with the talent in this town there will be something erected that will be hideous, an eyesore."
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Incidentally, Howard also points out that the Communities by Design committee handling this Statler shroud is also in the process of putting together podcasts, "so you can take walking tours of downtown architecture. And it's not just limited to downtown. We may expand to certain neighborhoods."