Richard Drummond Davis

In our ongoing series, Interview with an Architect, we speak with leading voices in the North Texas architecture community and learn about their work, development issues in our community, and good design practices and principals (you can read the last one here).

Richard Drummond Davis

Richard Drummond Davis

Dallas architect Richard Drummond Davis is Dallas born, creating some of the most lavish and beautiful luxury homes today in North Texas (he’s the architect behind our most recent Luxe Tour).

His undergraduate degrees, a BS in architectural studies and a liberal arts degree, at from the University of Texas at Austin. While earning his Masters degree in architecture at Princeton, Davis studied with Michael Graves, a member of the “White Five,” formerly a follower of Le Corbusier who turned post modern and invented a new style of architecture, totally and recognizably his own.

But post modern was not to be his path. Seeking to express his own ideas, he returned to Dallas to start his own firm, Richard Drummond Davis Architect. Today, Davis is masterful at listening to his clients and creating their dreams, while respecting the power and beauty of historical architectural forms.

CandysDirt.comWhat keeps you in architecture? What motivates you?

Richard Drummond Davis: I love the challenge of the client who wants something unique or the unusual site which demands something unique. Getting into the design challenge is an adrenaline high.

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I know that not everyone is going to agree with me, but I’ve been thinking about this ever since PV14 was built: Shipping containers as housing is over.

So over.

When Michael Gooden was hoisting the long metal boxes in the air that would make up his shipping container project in Old Lake Highlands that overlooks White Rock Lake, I had to wonder: Why are we using metal boxes to build things in Texas? Have you ever been inside a storage unit without climate control in summer here? It’s the equivalent of being baked alive. Heck, if you want to sweat it out, go to King Spa. But a corrugated metal home in an area where you’re roasting on 100-degree days throughout the summer? No thanks. And consider that, if you’re just building a room without modifying the container size, it’s only 7 feet wide, which is hardly a good size for a human-scaled space.

And yet, Zad Roumaya wants to build an apartment development in the Cedars that will be made of shipping containers. He says he’ll call the concept, should it get off the ground, ModPod. But how much sense does it make to assemble all these boxes to build a structure that costs hundreds of dollars to retrofit for our climate?

I was glad to see that my misgivings were validated by someone far more qualified: San Francisco-based OpenScope principle Mark Hogan. Hogan, an architect who has even done a shipping container project has much more to say on the matter.

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Architecture on Tap

The Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects sponsors a lively series, Architecture on Tap, which is having its final event this week.

How big is your digital footprint?” will explore four perspectives on the use of technology and social media within the practice of architecture.

The three panelists will be Bob Borson, AIA, of Malone Maxwell Borson ArchitectsRick del Monte, FAIA, of Beck Group; and Eddie Fortuna, AIA, of Omniplan.

Discussion topics include:

  • What effect does the use of social media have on the studio environment?
  • How has the increased ease to connect with content from across the world affect the way we view the built environment?
  • ​At what point is our use of digital interaction within the work place too much?

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Neo Pastiche

Neo Pastiche Banality.  The Tuna Noodle Casserole of Housing

Let’s face it, homes have always been a collection of areas for cooking, sleeping, and primping surrounding a common family or group dining and living area. Sometimes these functions occurred in a single room and sometimes a series of rooms. The more schmancy you get, the more specialized the rooms and the larger the rooms become.  At some point, homes can become their own self-contained city like Barbra Streisand’s underground shopping center or overly task-specific like Candy Spelling’s gift wrapping room.

Yes, differing eras have sought to either open or close off rooms. Interestingly, in addition to overall wealth, it seems that what a society thinks of its women has something to do with interior spaces. When women were thought to be barefoot, pregnant and without meaningful opinions, homes were more closed off.

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Looking up into Thanssgiving Tower. Photo: John McStravick via Creative Commons

Looking up into the iconic spiral of the chapel in Thanks-Giving Square. Photo: John McStravick via Creative Commons

A new Kickstarter campaign is looking to replace worn, outdated, and vandalized signage in Thanks-Giving Square, a serene three-acre park, non-denominational chapel, and museum in Downtown Dallas.

The iconic spiral chapel in Thanks-Giving Square is one of the most prestigious stained glass windows in the world, inviting visitors to enter for reflection or prayer. The museum is rich in history of gratitude and thanks for the leaders and supporters throughout the years, and the bells in the square chime hourly. Thousands of people interact with this space each year, and it has become an active, urban gathering place.

thanks-giving square

Photo: Noah Jeppson

This landmark space in the heart of Downtown Dallas was designed by architect Philip Johnson and opened to the public in 1977. Decades of continuous wear and vandalism have resulted in a confusing visitor, says Noah Jeppson, board member of The Thanks-Giving Foundation, a private nonprofit that owns and operates Thanks-Giving Square.

“While multiple pathways located in the Square lead guests to different attractions, there is little to guide them along the way,” he said. “This summer, our most current project will help raise important funds that will allow us to replace the out-of-date, missing, and confusing signage with a functional signage system that engages neighboring residents, tourists, and office workers and helps them understand this landmark gem. This important project relies on contributions from supporters around the world, and the campaign offers several ways in which the community can get involved.”

The fundraising goal is $11,500, and as of today, they have 33 backers pledging $4,024.

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Need something to do tonight? Take advantage of AIA Fort Worth’s free Design Talk at University of Texas at Arlington’s Fort Worth Center featuring Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster.

Mark-Lamster-051513Lamster, who is also a professor at UTA, will discuss “the challenges of urban planning and development in Dallas specifically and Texas and the United States more broadly, looking especially at preservation, justice, and sustainability,” in tonight’s lecture. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

I am sure there will be plenty of words said about the recent spate of teardowns in downtown Dallas and the preservation community’s response to the razing of historic buildings. Lamster has frequently decried Dallas’ car culture and has taken many jabs at the Arts District luxury highrise Museum Tower. That’s all to say that you shouldn’t forget your popcorn tonight.

You can find out more about this evening’s event, as well as other free Design Talk lectures hosted by AIA Fort Worth, on the organization’s website. Better yet, sign up for their newsletter.

 

The living room of a Meadowood Estate designed by Mary Anne Smiley.

The living room of a Meadowood Estate designed by Mary Anne Smiley

Mary Anne Smiley had big plans for herself as a young woman. During childhood, she began drawing house plans and dreamed of a career in architecture.

Several years later, she tried to begin architecture studies at Oklahoma State University. But it was the 1960s, and the dean informed her, “Women do not enroll in architecture.”

Mary Anne Smiley

Mary Anne Smiley

That unfortunate turn of events led her to a different kind of adventure—she decided instead to study interior design and fine art. This began a successful career as an interior designer, and today, Smiley is recognized her as one of the top designers in Dallas. She received a Best of Houzz 2014 award for service, and a Best of Houzz 2015 award for design.

“I went to college with the intention of being an architect, but I am so glad the dean told me women could not enroll in architecture, as I think that would have been so limiting for me,” Smiley said. “I also wanted to be an artist so bad, but realized I did not have the raw talent required for that at that time—during the 60s, if you were not angry, and interested in phallic symbols, you did not have what it took! I think all-in-all, I landed just where I needed to be.”

Smiley’s love of bright color made her a pioneer of its use in Dallas interior design, and a signature of hers is bright spots of pure color against soft pearl-finish backgrounds. She’s also known for her ability to mix antiques and lavish textiles with cutting-edge products, from metallics to recycled plastics.

“I love to mix elements,” she said. “For instance, in the Highland Park contemporary study, for the desk, I used two contemporary chrome bases for a custom acrylic ‘tray’ top with honey onyx insert. The unique thing about this desk that you do not see, is that the onyx has a hollow space that encompasses an LED light grid that lights the onyx top without any evidence of a light source or wiring, as the wiring is concealed inside the chrome base, running directly into the floor, with the transformer for the lighting mounted beneath the floor.”

Today, she brings her talents to clients with her company, Mary Anne Smiley Interiors, creating carefully curated spaces for a range of clients. Her work is simply stunning.

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Underground 3

A topless version of Michael Framboluti’s underground residences could definitely work at Preston and Northwest Highway, making a highrise possible in an otherwise inhospitable environment.

You’re the host with the most (cash) vying for a piece of the redevelopment of the Preston and Northwest Highway intersection. Unfortunately you’re hemmed-in by dowagers and dilettantes who will fight change with hammer and tong.  What to do … what to do?

Go down.

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