Today, we bring you the inaugural column in a new ongoing series, Interview with an Architect. The goal is to 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.
Evan Beattie, AIA, LEED AP, is a Principal with Good Fulton & Farrell, Inc., an award-winning multi-disciplinary design firm based in Dallas. He’s been with them for 10 years, and was named one of Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2013, as well as one of the “Top 20 Under 40 in Architecture, Engineering and Construction” by ENR Texas & Louisiana in 2011.
He earned his Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and moved to Dallas in 2003. He currently lives in the Henderson Avenue area, where he organized fellow residents into the Henderson Neighborhood Association in 2009 to help them have a voice in the development of that fast-growing area. Beattie and his wife will move this summer to a new house he designed in the Urban Reserve neighborhood of sustainable modern homes just a few exits north on Central Expressway.
His work with Good Fulton & Farrell has included the Alta Henderson Apartments in Dallas; master planning for The Canyon in Oak Cliff in Dallas; and Fiori on Vitruvian Park in Addison. He is currently working on three projects adjacent to the Henderson Avenue area, two of which will be mixed-use developments in that neighborhood.
“It has been amazing to watch the pace of change in the urban core of our city these last 12 years, and the momentum just keeps growing for additional investment in urban revitalization and the creation of great public spaces and parks that make our city more livable,” Beattie said. Jump to read our interview!
CandysDirt.com: You are extensively involved in the development of North Oak Cliff and Trinity River areas as a board member of The Trinity Commons Foundation, secretary for the North Oak Cliff Municipal Management District Board, and executive committee member of the Trinity Trust River Rats. What draws you to this work? How would you rate our progress?
Evan Beattie: I’m very excited about what the future holds for North Oak Cliff. The neighborhood residents and commercial stakeholders in the areas surrounding the Bishop Arts District are passionate about creating great urban places and an inclusive community. The well-organized neighborhood events sponsored by Jason Roberts and his Better Block cohorts foster new friendships and meaningful interaction in one of Dallas’ most diverse areas, and have already been replicated in other communities in our region with great success.
The Trinity River is one of Dallas’ most underutilized public spaces and has the potential to be the Central Park of Dallas. Cities all around the world are reorienting to embrace their rivers and waterfronts, working to make them great public spaces. I hope that we find a way to connect our downtown and neighborhoods in North Oak Cliff and West Dallas to the river in a way that helps make it a central part of life in our city.
I am concerned that the plans for a limited access high speed tollway within the levees will end up being a permanent barrier to access the river from the east as currently designed, but I’m optimistic the review being done by Larry Beasley and other leading planners and designers will lead to changes in the design that balance the need for a road with the need for pedestrian access to the river.
CD: Your areas of interest include sustainable design practices, smart growth, and New Urbanist planning principles, like mixed-use developments, green building efforts, and increased density. Where do you see those best implemented in DFW? What are the obstacles?
EB: The State-Thomas neighborhood in Dallas, Addison Circle as an inner ring suburb, and Legacy in Plano are all great examples of the value that can be created through good urban design and planning, both for residents and developers. With the population growth that is predicted for our region in the next decade, we are going to need many more walkable neighborhoods that reduce reliance on cars for everyday use.
I predict that mixed-use development at DART Rail Stations will really take off with our region’s continued growth and downtown Dallas will continue to look more attractive to investors and residents as the DART Rail network continues to grow.
The advent of convenient car services with rapid response times at reasonable prices like UberX and Lyft have made it much easier to live without a car, and at least one intern architect in my office has made the decision to live car-free since moving to Dallas. If you think the traffic is bad now, just wait until we add over two million more residents to our region in the next 15 years, as currently predicted. The trend towards urban living and reduced reliance on cars is likely just in its infancy.
CD: In relation to your work with the Dallas City Plan Commissions’ Urban Design Committee, can you speak to the trajectory of development in Dallas? Where would you like to see it go?
EB: I’m very excited about the trajectory our city is on to grow with infill development and continue to improve the quality of life for area residents. Dallas has so much going for it now and is drawing droves of talented young college graduates from around the Southwest and Midwest annually to start their careers here. The state of our public education system will play a big role in determining how many of these recent transplants to our city remain urban dwellers, or decide to move to the suburbs. Improving the quality of public education available to all the children of Dallas must be one of our biggest priorities moving forward, and we are lucky to have some great civic servants like Mike Morath on the DISD board pushing for the needed education reforms to make our city a great place to raise a family.
We also have a zoning code in Dallas that is in many ways outdated and frequently obstructs good urban infill development from happening. I spend a lot of my professional time working on zoning change requests for well-conceived urban infill projects that don’t fit within the antiquated zoning classifications we have, which frequently also don’t align with the progressive recommendations of the Forward Dallas! Plan.
Having said that, I’m very glad we have zoning in Dallas, and the process required to create new Planned Development zoning classifications for projects in Dallas works very well and gives community members an opportunity to have a say in how their neighborhoods develop, which is empowering and a good democratic process.
CD: Dallas has been developing a stronger urban core and downtown area for some time now. What are our successes and where do we have room to grow?
EB: What Tim Headington has done to revitalize Main Street is really exciting and the downtown parks that have been built in the last decade have made downtown a great place to live. Good Fulton & Farrell has been the lead architect for the revitalization of the Dallas Farmers Market, which is now becoming a vibrant market and great downtown amenity.
There is certainly still plenty of room for improvement, with surface parking lots ripe for redevelopment in downtown. If the high-speed rail to Houston is able to get approved, and is built as quickly as I’ve seen reported, it will be a major catalyst for the next generation of growth in the urban core.
I’d love to see the Texas Rangers playing baseball in downtown Dallas at some point in the next decade, with a transit oriented stadium at a high speed rail stop connecting Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston!
CD: What’s your favorite building in Dallas, residential or commercial, and why?
EB: My favorite building and place to relax and spend time in Dallas is the Nasher Sculpture Center. It has a quiet and subdued design in an Arts District filled with statement buildings, and its garden is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. I hope a solution to the glare problems Museum Tower’s highly reflective glass is causing in both the Nasher’s galleries and garden will be agreed to and funded in the not-too-distant future.