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From the top of the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science – the latest jewel on the gleaming Dallas skyline – I can see a miniature of the Lone Star State's landscape, from pine trees to prairie to desert, roll out below me on the first floor's wraparound living roof. The building itself recreates the seams of rock in the Earth's strata using concrete panels to form a giant cube, save for the glass rectangle that dramatically juts out the side like a diamond in the rough.

Nasher Sculpture CenterBuilt on a former parking lot, the $70-million Renzo Piano-designed Nasher Sculpture Center was one of the first museums to open in down-town Dallas, in 2003. The Nasher was the catalyst for revitalizing the Dallas Arts District – the largest of its kind in the country. (Top and skirt: Pink Tartan; shoes: Miu Miu at Holt Renfrew)

This, it seems, is Dallas in a high-design nutshell: a city that's serious about art with a bit of dazzle thrown in. Home to more than a dozen billionaires, it's also a place where things move fast. (Just take the Perot's $185-million fundraising effort, which reached its goal more than a year ahead of schedule – a factor that helped fast-track the opening to this month.)

Looking at the construction cranes punching the sky like giant metal fists, I spot more new developments on the horizon. To the east, there's Klyde Warren Park, named after the backer's ten-year-old son (now that's how you create a dynasty). Perched atop a freeway, the green space gives pedestrians access to the Dallas Arts District. I make my way to the area, home to the city's major museums and performing arts venues, and find a playground for the Pritzker Prize-winning architects Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas and I.M. Pei. The result: four landmark buildings in as many blocks.

The Wyly TheatreThe Wyly Theatre in Dallas takes the idea of flexible space and under-stated materials from its predecessor, a metal barn-style building with bleacher seating. One push of a button allows the sets and three seating towers to move, instantly transforming the venue. (Blazer: HUGO Hugo Boss; turtleneck: Pink Tartan; skirt: Robert Rodriguez)

"The idea is about complete transparency," says Greg Brown, program director for the Dallas Center For Architecture. He points to the glossy red Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House and its massive garage-door-style windows, which slide up to merge the lobby and terrace on warm nights. Across the street, I can see straight through the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre's ground floor, its stage and seats encased in glass like an aquarium on stilts, while the rest of the building is overlaid in reedlike aluminum tubing. "These aren't mystical temples to the arts. They're accessible to everyone," says Brown.

Tags

ARCHITECTURE     ARTS & CULTURE     DALLAS     TEXAS    

Comments… or add another

MaryClaire MacLeod

Monday, November 25th 2013 14:33
It looks like a wonderful trip
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