AIA Dallas Built Design Awards Highlight Local Projects

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Harim Group Headquarters, Beck Architecture, Seoul South Korea

Last week, The Dallas branch of the American Institute of Architects awarded winners in their annual Built Design competition (versus June’s Unbuilt awards). There were 72 nominations, which consisted of eight private residences, 10 medical facilities, and nine educational projects – and one scrappy Tyler, Texas, bank who had three entries.

Above is my favorite (a high-rise, naturally). Harim Group is a Korean agriculture business whose headquarters is more than a pretty face. The S-curve is based on wind currents whose indention maximizes airflow. In fact, the building is meant to create airflow with operable windows (!) on one side and exhausts on the other (not a lot of buildings these days seem to care about airflow outside HVAC considerations). And while certainly a little glitzy, I’m liking the perforated, polished stainless steel lining of the S-curve backed with LED lights. I also enjoy the semi-transparent top that creates a more elegant form while masking a killer conference room surrounded by a rooftop garden (you can also see foliage poking out of the roofline of its neighbor to the right).

In all, there were eight winners in various categories. Here are a few.

Charlotte and Donald Test Pavilion; Dallas, Texas (Buchannan Architecture)

Located on the grounds of the Dallas Arboretum, the Test Pavilion has elements of the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the David Geffen Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center. But while those spaces overlook their urban environments, here the glassed volume overlooks the natural world. The wide roof overhangs increase shade while acting as a visual magnet for the glass box beneath. The modified butterfly roof adds to the visual interest and airiness of the interior.

Cliff House, Oak Cliff (DSGN Associates)

A little church at Davis and Tyler Streets in Oak Cliff is transformed into a wedding chapel and events center. Originally home to the Davis Street Baptist Church since 1936, the rather plain clapboard church got a complete makeover into something grand.

More than a fresh coat of paint, the exterior got a new roof and restored the original corbels. Gutters were added and the foundation restored. The entry also gained added windows, a porch and handicapped ramp. Some is the unsightly power line on the front.

The interior had seen better days with a terrible drop ceiling and fans evidence of environmental control issues. Drop ceilings are often put in place to reduce a space’s volume making them cheaper to heat and (in Texas) cool.

The new space speaks for itself. Light, bright and airy with no obvious worry about putting a chill into a Dallas summer. The colonnade not only keeps the roof up by supporting the exposed roof trusses, it demarks the seating area with wide aisles left, right and center.

Old Dallas High School, Dallas (Merriman Anderson Architects)

Built in 1907, the Dallas High School collected dust for decades before finding a home as part of Matthews Southwest’s plan to redevelop the building into a mixed-use of office, restaurant and retail space. Perhaps the biggest challenge for this old dog was to teach it to LEED in energy efficiency (gold certification).

The other cool aspect of this was the reuse of so much of the original structure – 99.64 percent of the building’s core and shell were reused. As you can see above, the architectural details retained are wonderful to see – even as they are repurposed away from generations of swirlies and unending cootie outbreaks.

Casa Linder, Dallas (Buchannan Architecture)

I have to say that the single-family home entries were generally a grouping of indulgence, oddity, and cookie-cuttery. This East Dallas farmhouse reinterpretation is the most restrained at 3,700 square feet. The front view is of reclaimed materials offset by a gabion wall (rock encapsulated in steel mesh) texturally masking the pool.

This is a “long house” with a series of interconnected spaces backed to a central spinal corridor. Each of the sections contains a separate function with the largest being the living, dining and kitchen areas. From there it’s guest rooms, master suite and garage (teenagers will never sneak the car out from under these parent’s noses. Each of the sections is clad and roofed in corrugated “corten” weathering steel that turns red with rust as it ages.

What I liked most about this design was the abnormal use of a city lot to create an almost open courtyard to shield occupants from overlooking from at least one side.

For those wanting to see the rest of the entries, click here. I encourage you to do so. Seeing what the judges picked and which projects you might have picked is in itself a personal education in architecture. For example, I loved the transparency of the repurposed 2200 Main building in Dallas while I hated the reskinning of the Tyler Morning Telegraph building. You might question the College of Visual Arts and Design at UNT’s Denton as not being a great visual design. Or you might be icked-out by the jarring juxtaposition of the ultra-modern U.S. Bank Stadium outside Minneapolis with its century-old neighborhood.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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