A Blast of German Glass? Fix for the Museum Tower Glare Problemo in Time for Thanksgiving: The Twinkie Solution

Maybe. Brett Shipp over at Channel 8 has this cool video of Nasher’s proposed, computerized external louver system that would “open and close, cascading down the outside of the building, dulling the sun’s harshest rays.”

“Our goal was not to detract from this building,” del Monte said. “Our goal was how can we respect it, and even make it a little more interesting.”

The concept was taken from the Hegau Tower in Singen, Germany. A close look at video obtained exclusively for News 8 shows louvers lowering, and the new look it gives the building, from the outside and the inside.

Interesting, but MT folks say it’s not so simple — there are wind gusts to figure out, and if one of those louvers was caught up by a major gust could it crash into the existing glass and destroy the facade of the building, not to mention injure someone? We do have tort reform in Texas, but you can get away with a lot more liability overseas than you can in the sue-happy U.S. of A.

I am just glad that these engineers and architects are thinking through all this, including the consequences.

Meantime, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund, owners of Museum Tower, will offer their own solution today, they say. Which will give us all in real estate something to be thankful for.

Meantime, Dallas art critic Willard Spiegelman wrote one of the best, most balanced pieces on this issue yet for yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. I wonder, however, why the WSJ did not choose to put it in the new Mansion section on Fridays. In any case, Spiegelman’s piece reflects exactly what I’ve heard every time this convo has come up in intelligent company: an impossible situation. Some people think Piano Renzo, who designed the Nasher and those brilliant light oculi, and Nasher officials are pulling an “I was here first!” tantrum and refuse to change the direction of those light louvres or move exhibits or otherwise alter the Nasher to allow a peaceful co-existence. Did they really think nothing would ever be built next door?

Others blame the Museum Tower folks, the owners, particularly those who decided to make it taller than 22 stories, and did not use glass of no more than 15% reflectivity in order to protect the grounds and interior spaces of the museum. Why were they not more thoughtful of their neighbors?

You see, something happened between 2005 when the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System first stepped in and 2010: the greatest recession since the Great Depression. And here we are today:

Only 15 of the 126 apartments (priced at $1.3 million to $4.5 million, not including the $20 million penthouse) have sold. Some potential local buyers may have been scared away because they don’t want to suffer criticism that they are helping to damage the very arts district that appealed to them in the first place. A spokesman for the tower claims that once it is occupied the building will generate $9 million annually in tax revenues for the city of Dallas. But no one knows when that may happen.

Was it greed or the the quirks of economics that made the building bigger, taller, and more reflective? Will BOTH SIDES have to give in a little? Maybe there’s a Twinkie solution! I don’t know, but it is nice to see some balanced reporting on the subject.



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