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What Can Dallas Learn from Charles Renfro?

What Can Dallas Learn from Charles Renfro?

It was great to see Rice architecture grad Charles Renfroback in Texas for the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 360 Lecture Seriesthis past Saturday. Renfro, the third in the triumvirate of Diller Scofidio + Renfro talked on current andpast projects, including the just-unveiled Broad Art Museumin Los Angeles. Though perhaps unintentional, there wereplenty of Dallasconnections.

Renfro began his remarks giving kudos to Dallas, praising the city for building itselfaround excellent contemporary architecture.  He says there is no city in the world like itat the moment.

Renfro’s firm’s most recent contributions to New York architecture include a complete rethinking ofthe Lincoln Center complex.  Beginning in 2009 with the redesign of Julliard’s AliceTully Hall, DSR has brought the 1960’s complex on a plinth into the 21stcentury and connected it with the city.  A new restaurant, transformed fountain and LEDsignage embedded in the ground turn the plaza into something that AnthonyTommasini calls “afriendlier face.”  We can’t help butmake the connection to our own AT&T Performing Arts Center.  The buildings are beautiful, but there hasbeen an ongoing dialogue as to how to make them more integral to downtown.  Might we take some hints from New York?

As Renfro walked his audience through the design for the Museumof Image and Sound on Rio de Janeiro’siconic Copacabana Beach, I was reminded of astriking similarity to the building we were sitting in.  The focused screen that DSR uses to manipulateand focus the view that museum goers get of the beach outside the building is almostthe same as the honeycombed screens that Renzo Piano uses above the Nashergalleries to admit, but control, natural light. (Sorry I couldn’t find a photo...)

And perhaps Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation could take alook at DSR’s incredible High Linepark in the Big Apple.  We don't want to compare apples and oranges…much about the two projects are vastly different.  But philosophically we too want a park that liveswithin the city and plays host to a variety of users. Can the Dallas Museum ofArt and Nasher engage with the park as Boston’sInstitute of Contemporary Art does?  Andis it too much to ask to have some of thesewhimsical dancing trees included?

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