It’s not mere hyperbole — the worlds of architecture, urban planning, and construction are lacking in representation of people of color.

In fact, the American Institute of Architect’s 2016 “Diversity in the Profession of Architecture” found that the one thing most architects — regardless of race — could agree on was that people of color are underrepresented in that field. Similar studies have found the same is true in urban planning and construction.

(graph courtesy AIA)

Interestingly, just about every discussion in all three industries regarding diversity involves strengthening the industry’s presence among students through outreach programs with high schools, etc.

Michael Ford, a Detroit-based architect, brought the whole issue of diversity to the forefront with a 20 minute TED Talk last year. In his talk, he uses lyrics in hip-hop songs to show how they can serve as a very effective way to evaluate the good and bad of modern urban architecture. (more…)

Back in 2000, Urban Realm, a Scottish architecture magazine, launched an annual award for the worst new architecture in Scotland. Called the Carbuncle Award, it inspired UK magazine Building Design to craft the Carbuncle Cup beginning in 2006 for “the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months.” 

I’m sure had there been a Carbuncle prize in China, the above “donut” office building would have certainly made the short list in 2015 from an overflowing number of examples of bad architecture. The donut is 33 stories tall and resembled old Chinese coins with holes in the middle. It also forms an “8” when reflected in the river – a very lucky number for the Chinese.

Given Dallas’ overwhelming pace of (often) cheap, bad architecture, I think a Carbuncle or two is in order. Keeping the “carbuncle” theme, I’m christening the Dallas award the Carbuncle Crown. In this first attempt/year, I’m going to ask for entries in two categories …

Ugliest Building in Dallas (regardless of year built – to catch us up)

Ugliest Building in Dallas 2018 (built in the past 12 months)


MoMA Extension New York City (53 West 53rd Street)

French architect Jean Nouvel began designing buildings in the late 1960s with his first global success being the Arab World Institute building in Paris in 1981. That building captured the geometry inherent in Arabic architecture by using a lattice of multi-sized mechanical lenses on the exterior. The lenses’ job is to manage light entering the building by opening and closing depending on exterior light levels. Pretty ingenious.

Nouvel continues to work in the Arab world, crafting buildings denoting the region’s specific historical context and modern requirements. Nouvel has said buildings have a specific place and time. He would not design the same building for Doha, Qatar, that he would for New York, New York. Each location required connection and context. Looking over Nouvel’s work, it’s easy to see a focus on texture and light. He layers both with dramatic effect. Nouvel won the Pritzker Prize in 2009 and today his firm employs over 140 in Paris with satellites in Rome, Geneva, Madrid, and Barcelona.

But let’s look at New York City first …


Heatherwick’s award-winning Rolling Bridge (2002)

I’ll admit Thomas Heatherwick’s name has skittered across my design radar for a while without really finding purchase. It was my look into his collaboration with Amsterdam-based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for a pair of Google headquarters buildings in London and Silicon Valley that caused my architectural stars to align on Heatherwick. Some of you may have seen his Provocations show at the Nasher in 2014.

Armchair Olympic hopefuls will have seen his work designing the flame and cauldron for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games. That design included a circular fan of “petals” representing each participating nation that were lit and mechanically raised into a cauldron – symbolically bringing together the member nations in competition (see the cauldron lighting ceremony).

The Rolling Bridge above was completed in 2004 as part of a revitalization of the Paddington Basin area of London. It’s one of two pedestrian bridges built within the mixed commercial-residential project. Both bridges are as much for art as utility. The other is called the Fan Bridge. It has five fan blades that open like an Asian fan (see both in action in two minutes).


When you design a building, what’s the first thing you think about? Is it scale? Is it use? Is it presence? 

What about how the building and the way it is designed is part of a larger goal of engaging a community? All of these questions and more can be discussed at the next AIA Dallas summer happy hour panel, “Designing in Active Voice: Avenues for Professional Advocacy.”


Photos: Andrea Cato

The Texas Society of Architects recognized the TreeHouse store in The Hill development at the northeast corner of Walnut Hill and Central Expressway in its recent design awards. The design was intended to be not only aesthetically appealing but also energy positive and environmentally friendly.

“We love the challenge as architects,” LRK architecture and design firm partner Craig Henry said. ““We’re proud to work with clients who share our values for placemaking and sustainable design.”

Initial planning for the building began in the fall of 2015.  It was a joint effort between TreeHouse, LRK, San Antonio-based deign architect Lake Flato, and Cypress Equities, the developer behind The Hill Shopping Center.


Dallas Center for Architecture is Now AD EX with Newly Expanded Vision, Location |

The Dallas Center for Architecture has changed its name and expanded its vision, moving to a new location in downtown Dallas and setting its sights on being an integral part of the community. 

DCFA is now AD EX, shorthand for The Architecture and Design Exchange. They are taking new roost in the historic midcentury architectural icon Republic Center with the goal of being both a physical space and mechanism for spurring conversation about walkability, mobility, historic preservation, affordable housing, economic development, and other civic challenges related to architecture and urban design that impact the city. 

“Building on the momentum created over the past ten years, we look forward to AD EX becoming a critical force in an ever-growing conversation on the design and livability of our cities,” says Jan Blackmon, FAIA, executive director of The Architecture and Design Foundation and AIA Dallas. “We believe this storefront space in the middle of a new epicenter for downtown will give us opportunities to reach new audiences. Our hope is that AD EX will inspire our community to see its surroundings differently and imagine new possibilities for design as a solution.”

AD EX’s street-level location in the dense urban core of Dallas and adjacency to downtown’s next planned public park, Pacific Plaza, is intended to break down barriers and facilitate informal exchange of ideas about design and architecture. Its interior space, outside terrace, open floorplan, and floor-to-ceiling windows will showcase design-focused exhibitions, films, book and panel discussions, student workshops, policy symposia, and other programming. 


Photo by Simon Luna photography

Corsicana invites you into their booming downtown and onto the porches of their historic Carriage District this weekend with their Inaugural Porchfest and Crafternoon. You may have heard of the Porchfest craze sweeping the nation musicians playing on grand porches of neighborhood homes for a family-friendly afternoon of socializing and entertainment. (more…)