Scott Johnson Speaks Publicly About Museum Tower, Reflecting

Scott-Johnson

Joanna found this great piece by Scott Johnson, principal at Johnson Fain, and the architect who designed our beautiful Museum Tower, which has received ever so much flack for it’s reflectivity that has, they say, damaged art and grass at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

In the article, it surprised me to learn that Johnson says he has never been contacted by media:

 I have found it surprising that so much has been said and written without inquiring of the building designer. While, on the one hand, I don’t relish entering a conversation in which sides have long been drawn, a dominant narrative seems fixed, facts are frequently misstated, and public relations blunders have clouded genuine conversation, on the other hand, I have a high regard for the importance of architectural criticism in the mainstream media. I consider it a vital contribution to civic life as I do this fervent, if difficult, conversation among Dallasites.

As a reporter you sometimes just assume that a source embroiled in controversy is not going to talk. Of course, every time I find myself making this assumption I make myself ask, call, pester, and try to get the info as a reporter should. So I just ASSUMED Johnson had never talked because the lawyers or someone told him not to. Did I call him? Once. Maybe it’s time to call him again.

He makes a terrific point, one that has long simmered in my mind — on the glass surface selected for the building’s skin. What else was he supposed to use BESIDES coated glass?

 We were made aware of a master plan for the Arts District done many years earlier, well before the design and construction of the Nasher, which located a tall building on our site not-to-exceed 50 stories. We saw no evidence that there were any constraints with regard to materials or reflectivity. Having worked in Texas over many years, this seemed normal to us. What also seemed normal to us was the choice in a tall residential building of high performance glass with a reflective coating. Dallas has many examples, as does every major city in America. If you have walked around Manhattan’s Ground Zero Memorial during mid-day to the south of the new Freedom Tower, you have found yourself, on a sunny day, in the reflection of this very tall building. From the published renderings, it appears that all the other towers there will also use glass with reflective coatings. Whatever its future may be, coated glass is and has been an omnipresent material on skylines worldwide. With the continuing focus on minimizing energy consumption in buildings, this material will, in my view, remain popular unless regulations are put in place to moderate it.

And for the first time, he explains that a solution can never be achieved because the Nasher is asking for zero, ZERO, reflectivity. Which just cannot happen with glass, or, for that matter, a metallic:

 However, representatives of the Nasher were outspoken that their charge to Museum Tower was to “eliminate all reflection and do it all on Museum Tower.” The Nasher, they said, was not to be touched. Frankly, while I appreciated their ardent defense of a great building, it was clear to me, as it is to other architects, that if there is to be any glass in our as-of-right, code-conforming, LEED Gold tower, there will be reflectivity.

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