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John Eagle, Deedie Rose Put Heat on Museum Tower


John Eagle and Deedie Rose today have penned an op-ed in the Morning News that minces no words when it comes to solving the problem of light and heat reflecting off Museum Tower. Their piece begins:

It is time for Museum Tower to put an end to the damage it is causing not only to the Nasher but also to the Dallas Arts District and to the reputation of Dallas.

I wish I could share the entire thing with you. It’s behind the paywall. As many people as possible should read it. Here’s how it wraps up:

We, on behalf of other concerned Dallas residents and patrons of the arts, including Mary McDermott Cook, John Dayton, Bess Enloe, Nash Flores, Jeremy Halbreich, Howard Hallam, Marguerite Hoffman, Caren Prothro and Howard Rachofsky, call upon Museum Tower leaders to take responsibility and implement the louver solution that is available today.

The louver system they refer to would cost $7.5 million and could be up and running in one year. The louvers are actually computer-controlled screens that would be programmed to unroll at certain times of the day, as the season and sun dictated, to prevent light from bouncing off Museum Tower and into both the Nasher’s garden and indoor galleries. The animation above shows the panels, one for each of the facade’s 1,000 windows, unrolling and retracting in the pattern that would prevail during summer months. The great thing about this solution is that it’s not only affordable and proven (the Hegau Tower, in Germany, uses the system), but I think it would actually make Museum Tower more interesting. People would come downtown just to see that thing work. Museum Tower would be intimately connected to the Nasher in a beautiful way.

UPDATE (2:57): With Deedie Rose’s permission, here is the entire text of the op-ed she wrote with John Eagle:

It is time for Museum Tower to put an end to the damage it is causing not only to the Nasher but also to the Dallas Arts District and to the reputation of Dallas.

Since September 2011, the leadership of Museum Tower has been aware of the serious problems its highly reflective glass is inflicting on the Nasher Sculpture Center as well as on parks, streets, offices and residences in the neighborhood. Museum Tower had an opportunity to start rectifying this problem over a year ago. Instead, its leaders only stalled. Even in the face of public pressure, Mayor Mike Rawlings’ direct intercession, and Tom Luce’s diligent work in finding a solution, Museum Tower’s leaders continue to do nothing to solve the problems they admit creating.

Three generations of Dallasites have planned and invested in the building of the Dallas Arts District. It is home to our city’s greatest cultural resources and is enjoyed by millions of families, schoolchildren and tourists annually. Ten years ago, Ray Nasher invested $70 million to build the Nasher – at no cost to Dallas taxpayers – and to create a permanent home for his unparalleled collection as a gift to our city. The Nasher stands as the most important collection and institution of its kind in the world.

The Nasher, which continues to operate without city funding, has drawn visitors from around the globe and has been a catalyst for more than a billion dollars of additional investment in and around the Arts District, including Museum Tower. Here is the great irony: Museum Tower is destroying the very institution from which it derives its name and value, and would never have been conceived or built but for the existence and quality of the Nasher.

When Ray Nasher first made plans to create the Sculpture Center, he knew that the property across North Olive Street would be developed. He, like all who support the development of the cultural institutions that define the Arts District, envisioned it as a neighborhood that would include offices, residences, restaurants and retail. The previous property owner of the Museum Tower site also had a very strong understanding and sense of civic responsibility, so in anticipation of being a good neighbor, he articulated guidelines regarding light reflections for any building to be constructed on that land.

The leaders of Museum Tower embraced these guidelines when they purchased the property, but chose later to disregard them. However, even without these guidelines, all developers and architects know that they need to consider the impact of new construction to make sure they do no harm to the existing neighborhood – the first canon of the American Institute of Architects Code of Ethics requires members to “respect and help conserve their natural and cultural heritage.”

It is outrageous for Museum Tower leadership to propose that the Nasher amend its building. The Nasher was built a decade before Museum Tower. It didn’t create the problem but rather is suffering from it. Museum Tower leaders’ suggestion that the Nasher redesign its building would be as if new neighbors built a house where the gutters overflowed onto your property and flooded it, making your home unusable. Then they tell you that you need to fix your drainage to accommodate the flooding that they have created.

Yet a proven, cost-effective solution has been identified that will eliminate the harsh reflections and will even make Museum Tower more energy efficient.

We, on behalf of other concerned Dallas residents and patrons of the arts, including Mary McDermott Cook, John Dayton, Bess Enloe, Nash Flores, Jeremy Halbreich, Howard Hallam, Marguerite Hoffman, Caren Prothro and Howard Rachofsky, call upon Museum Tower leaders to take responsibility and implement the louver solution that is available today. Their stalling only hurts those they are supposed to be serving – the police and firefighters. Perhaps the greatest irony is that these are the most revered, valued and respected employees of Dallas. We all want Museum Tower to succeed for the sake of our first responders and the people who live and work in Dallas. But to foster this success the leadership of Museum Tower must fix the building now.

8 comments on “John Eagle, Deedie Rose Put Heat on Museum Tower

  1. I disagree. While MT is doing a lot of damage to their reputation, if this were to happen it sets precedent for all future buildings to have to come up with some reflective solution in case anyone whines about light. This is an impossible task. Reflection is part of being in a metropolis.

  2. Actually, Jason, it’s my understanding that it is becoming more common for architects to think about how they reflect light onto other buildings and spaces. The idea is examine the impact BEFORE you build, something Scott Johnson, who designed Museum Tower, didn’t do. Avoiding a conflict like we have now in the Arts District is not an impossible task.

  3. So you want them to do nothing so that other new construction that damages the environment around them won’t have to do anything either? It’s not whining when you are complain about a legitamate issue. As this very thoughtful article points out, they knew when they bought the property that reflectivity was such a big concern that guidelines had been articulated in the sale addressing it. But they chose outrageously reflective glass anyway so that they could go for a high LEED certification which they could use as a sales tool. It was a huge mistake and now they need to fix it. Changing the roof of the Nasher doesn’t do anything for the garden, Klyde Warren Park or the rest of the neighborhood that will continue to sizzle half the year. Bravo to Mr. Eagle & Ms. Rose for putting in writing what most Dallasites feel.

  4. Museum Tower is exquisitely beautiful as an addition to the skyline. It is a building to make any developer proud. However, the designers need to fix their mistake and attach the louvers.

  5. I worked for John’s Interior Designer for his home and let me tell you his art collection is Amazing! When I read this story today it made me proud to have been involved with his home. He truly is an art lover and I stand behind this statement 1000%. Its about time the known voices of our city unite and crush this problem.

  6. John Eagle and Deedie Rose’s letter is superb. Thank you for writing it, and thanks to those that put their name to it.

    Jason’s comment above makes no sense. Compare the situation here in Dallas to a parallel situation in London: When Sir Nicholas Serota set about raising funds to deliver one of the world’s leading museums, Tate Modern, he was faced with a task of raising unprecedented amounts of money. In order to ensure some of these funds, ( particularly the money allocated from the National Lottery) the implicit and stated benefit would be that the museum would spur enormous growth and revenue along that section of the river that had for decades been underused and dormant. Tate Modern’s completion and success spurred exactly such growth as promised, just as the Nasher has done in the Arts District in Dallas. In the following decade, various residential and mix-use office buildings, retail and restaurants have grown up around the museum. All neighbouring developments to Tate Modern were executed responsibly and equitably.

    The Blue Fin Building is one such neighbour – a large project that coexists happily with Tate Modern and its other neighbours. It is an appropriate height and it features facades that use a type of fixed louvre, adding visual texture, but presumably specifically for the purpose of privacy, optimising light use and controlling reflectivity. All of the surrounding projects co-exist in a mutually beneficial and harmonious manner.

    It is not rocket science – it is what architects and developers at this level are – or ought to be – paid to think about and deliver upon. Their social contract (as defined in the above letter as the Code of Ethics) within the community ought – by this stage, and especially in a climate such as Dallas’s – be a given.

    As I have said elsewhere, the MT design was inappropriate from the start. There are many ways of designing residential skyscrapers – look for example at the Barbican’s Le Corbusier-inspired three towers (I used to live in one, so I know them weil). They have curving concrete balconies with deep insets that are interesting visually, very pleasant to experience from the inside and outside and do not present reflectivity problems. Each tower was very carefully and separately oriented so as not to create problems with each other.

    It is absurd to assume that all new buildings in Dallas – especially in our climate – would automatically require sheer glass facades as if this is just “how buildings get done”. It is a retrogressive way of thinking about city architecture. It is only logical that each new building integrates and compliments the pre-existing buildings, especially when the calibre of those pre-existing buildings are already ‘off-the-charts’ in terms of quality.