When I attended University of Houston, I took a remarkable Pre-Columbian Art course. I recall the professor’s lecture, and noted at the time, how in Pre-Columbian architecture, the relationships between proposed buildings and the already-existing structures in the area were always taken into consideration pre-construction . In other words, architecture was much like life itself. All buildings related, one to the other, just as human beings do. Sage considerations for fully operational civilizations. _______Weyl _______ Madison, CT.
For some reason, that particular point stuck with me. When I travel, I find myself considering how one building relates to its surrounding structures….whether it blends in, stands out, or somehow interferes with what surrounds it….and that’s what leads me to this…..
Situated in downtown Dallas, the magnificent Nasher Sculpture Center is a tribute to Raymond D. Nasher’s vision to create an outdoor “roof-less” museum that could serve as a peaceful retreat for reflection of art and nature and to be a public home for his sculpture collection. The 5,000-square-foot building is divided into five equal-sized, parallel pavilions to provide art lovers with an inner-city art retreat. Magnificent….in theory.
If I lived in the Dallas area, I would probably be there every day of the week…at least I would have, until Dallas property developers decided to make something big and garish to overshadow it. Now, I’m not so sure.
Recently, the owner of a 42 story condominium tower near the sculpture garden took out a full page apologetic ad in the Dallas Morning News, to express his regrets to the folks at Nasher for the glare that is being reflected off the windows of the newly constructed tower. It appears the glare is screwing up all kinds of things at the sculpture garden. Nice.
The brash light that is being reflected from the condo tower is going through the glass ceiling at the sculpture center and has the potential to fade any art that is hanging on the walls there, so it all has to be moved to protect it from damage.
Most tragically affected of all, is a site-specific sculpture installation by James Turrell that was constructed by the artist with the goal of exposing a good deal of the sky to viewers who go underneath it and look up through the rectangular or circular openings.
The sculptures are enclosed spaces, either rooms or free-standing structures, that are open to the sky through apertures in the roof. The multi-million dollar spaces exist for the sole purpose of creating light effects and perceptual events that change with atmospheric conditions. The idea was that the ‘picture’ created by the opening in the top of each sculpture, look different every time one views it… because of the clouds or other atmospheric features. Brilliant idea, yes?
Additionally, Turrell coordinated a unique system of lights that ingeniously run in concert with the natural cycles of sunrise and sunset, as they respond to the constantly changing atmospheric conditions. Spectacular, in theory…..
Now, however, viewers go into these structures, look up through the circular or rectangular apetures and instead of seeing wide expanses of the sky over Dallas, they see condo! It will cost $1.5 million to change the position of the sculptures to compensate for the location of the building!
Originally, the condo was supposed to be 21 stories, which would have been fine. However, as things turned out, it is now 42 stories tall and is constructed of a surface material that, in addition to ruining Terrell’s sculpture, has the potential to cause real harm to the other art hanging inside the art building. One of the interesting things is that the tower is called, “The Museum Tower” I suppose, to encourage art lovers to invest in it. sigh…. The shadows that it casts over the art collection are distracting and not, at all, what the architects who created Nasher had in mind, I’m sure.
The stars are not the only thing that are big and bright in Texas. It appears that the noxious condos are equally so .