Tom Kundig

Studio Sitges, Spain, designed by architect Tom Kundig. Photo: Nikolas Koenig

The object we use every day were designed by someone, from forks to phones. The thought behind material object design is the subject of the next Dallas Architecture Forum Design Symposium.

Tom Kundig

Tom Kundig, FAIA

Taking place on Oct. 30 at the Nasher Sculpture Center, the afternoon will be focused on how outstanding design utilizes materials, from common to rare, as integral elements of the design process. Attendees will also learn how leading architects and artists incorporate functionality into their designs, ranging in scale from small sculptures to residences.

Leading the discussion and providing the keynote address will be architect Tom Kundig, FAIA, one of the leading residential architects in the world (read our piece about his last visit to Dallas). He’s a principal and owner of Olson-Kundig Architects, a Seattle-based firm, which aims to create buildings that serve as a bridge between nature, culture, and people.

Joining Kundig will be highly acclaimed Dallas sculptor Brad Oldham, who has earned recognition worldwide with his site-specific artworks. Oldham has been described as a sculptor, place maker, and fearless fabricator. In both his large-scale sculptures and smaller pieces created for individuals, Oldham’s meticulous craftsmanship, passion, focus on materials, creativity, and consistent quality of work are evident.

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The Art Deco exterior of the 508 Park building.

The Art Deco exterior of the 508 Park building before restoration. Its architecture is considered an excellent example of a Zig Zag Moderne building. Photo: Encore Park

You probably never noticed the boarded-up tan brick building near Park and Young streets in downtown Dallas. It sat abandoned for two decades, its sidewalks littered with trash and walls vandalized with graffiti.

But behind the grime and neglect, there was a story of intersecting histories waiting to be told.

This Art Deco structure, called 508 Park, was once the hub of the local music scene. Mississippi Delta blues legend Robert Johnson recorded nearly half his songs, as well as his final work, in 1937. In fact, over 800 blues, jazz, western swing, and Mexican recordings occurred at 508 Park by Johnson and other legends such as Gene Autry, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Light Crust Doughboys, and Lolo Cavasos.

Blues legend Robert Johnson whose final recordings were at Encore Parrk's 508 Park. Photo: Encore Park

Blues legend Robert Johnson, whose final recordings were at Encore Parrk’s 508 Park. Photo: Encore Park

The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church across the street purchased 508 Park in 2011. Thanks to their efforts, as well as dedicated preservationists, historians, architects, and volunteers, this architecturally significant building is singing again.

The campus, known as Encore Park, is a multi-phased, multi-venue campus that aims to bring all cultures together to experience and appreciate history, art, music, and community gardening.

Pat Bywaters is executive director of Encore Park Dallas and grandson of influential Texas artist and “Dallas Nine” member Jerry Bywaters. He’s been spearheading the research into 508’s history, visiting archives in California, Louisiana, and New York.

“I love doing research, and I’ve always loved history. As soon as we looked into 508, the music history came flooding,” Bywaters said. “The Encore Park project preserves not only the architectural relic, but a special place and time in Dallas’ history.”

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