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Spin Goes One Way in Nasher/Tower Flap

Driving west on Northwest Highway this morning and being “blinded” by the sun glinting off the Richards Group office building near Central Expressway, it was hard not to believe this singling out of Museum Tower for its “death-ray reflection” is becoming a tad bit unfair. First, a very simple, seemingly logical solution to the Nasher center’s light problem is proposed—to be paid for by the tower in full. But it’s quickly dismissed by the sculpture center as a “publicity stunt” that’s no good because the glare problem affects the entire Arts District. (It does? Klyde Warren Park told Tim last year that the jury’s still out on that.)

Then, in seeming record time yesterday, an extensive interview with the center’s landscape architect appears in The News, blasting the proposed solution as “insulting” and “absurd” and “unthinkable,” in part because it failed to address the Nasher garden problem. If you look a little closer, though, you find the tower itself retained a respected horticultural expert to study any potential damage there. This very reasonable-sounding expert explains in this video—posted on a web site put up by the tower owner—why his conclusion is that there is no damage to the garden from the Museum Tower death ray.

Sure, this gardener guy may be a shameless shill who’s sold his soul for dollars. The condo building may yet be the death of the sculpture center as well as the entire Dallas Arts District. And, this whole mess may not have been caused by lapses and inadvertent error on all sides—the Nasher and the city of Dallas included—but by greedy commercial interests motivated strictly by the lust for money. That, or there’s a wonderfully slick PR campaign being spun by the culturati with the help of the media, and quite a few seem happy to buy it.

  • t b

    All of that sounds like an honest and even-handed critique, unless you’ve actually been there and gotten broiled by the reflections. Sure, it’s hot in Dallas no matter what. But I know from personal experience that the reflections off MT into KWP make things MUCH hotter than normal.

  • t b

    And as a follow up, I think it’s a tad bit disingenuous to liken Central Expressway to the Nasher Center, KWP, and the rest of the Arts District. The hue and cry has been louder about MT because the stakes are lot higher.

  • fij

    Well, you’re nothing if not predictable.

  • Tim Rogers

    Glenn, of all the trolls, you’re still my favorite.

  • Brett Moore

    Why Glenn. How out of character for you to suddenly become beholden to the corporate interests.

    PS: There’s a little something on your nose. No, more to the left. Got it.

  • Brett Moore

    Oh, and Glenn? Spinning MT as the victim of a slick PR campaign, as if they haven’t hired their own team of crisis PR flacks? Who seems happy to buy it now?

  • Jackson

    Museum Tower was supposed to be 21 stories, not the 42 stories it later became. Then, the degree of allowable reflectivity in MT’s glass was increased. Then, the MT engineering team’s computer models grossly — and incorrectly, it turns out — underestimated the actual degree of reflectivity in the glass they chose. It’s a pretty basic principle: you don’t harm your neighbors. And if you do, you fix it. In this case, MT is harming the Nasher, yet MT’s position is, “So what if we caused the problem? You need to change YOUR building.” This is the insulting posture Glenn Hunter is defending with this FrontBurner post.

    I agree with @t b that comparing a commercial building along Central to this issue is inane. Beyond that, the morning reflection off of the Richards building from the sun in the east is yet another red herring. That morning reflection lasts a relatively short period of time, and the afternoon glare off of it, no matter the season, is nowhere near as incessant as MT’s glare. It just isn’t. Richards isn’t as tall, either, I don’t believe.

  • Really?

    Wow, Glenn. You’re really brave. It’s absolutely not acceptable to see anyone’s side but the Nashers. After all, they’re just arty philanthropists – not wealthy real estate developers who got a huge tax write-off for donating their art collection to a museum with their name on the door.

  • Dubious Brother

    I do believe that Nasher was there first and as my architect son-in-law who lives in another city says – “a reflection study should have been completed and approved prior to the tower construction.” It is hard to pin that on the Nasher. That being said, there needs to be more attorney involvement with this much $$ at stake – the legal fees have to reach 7 digits. Is there too much press coverage keeping the lawyers away?

  • kmb

    what a shock, glenn weighing in on the side of private interests. and, to combat your Richards Group argument, I don’t believe that there is a world famous sculpture center affected by its glare. If Dallas wants to be a world class city, it needs to treasure its cultural institutions (as Ray Nasher believed, its art and culture which truly make a city).

  • Kk.

    Is museum tower still refusing to tell how many apartments have sold and at what price? Do they still have a money back guarantee offered? Someday the MT debacle will make for an interesting cautionary tale for PR classes.

  • RAB

    Glenn and Jim Schutze are having beers and dishing on the evil rich people as we speak.

  • A2Z

    Set aside the fact that anyone with half a brain can see that the Nasher is in the right. Have you never dealt with arguing kids? Arguing adults? Have you never had to apply simple logic to deduce who’s most likely lying? I’ll help you out. One very simple test is: Who gains (and who loses), and what, from the positions being asserted? Think Solomon and the baby.

    Set aside all biases, and just ask yourself plainly, in your heart of hearts: In what conceivable way could it be in the interest of the Nasher, or benefit the Nasher, for the Nasher to assert a problem that does not exist? Related query: In what conceivable way could it be in the interest of the Nasher, or benefit the Nasher, for the Nasher to decline a good, paid-for solution? The answer to each inquiry (“No way whatsoever.”) gives any unbiased mind a pretty clear overview of who’s spinning the story, and who’s being unfairly encroached upon.

  • Bill Marvel

    I don’t get it.You spend millions to build a museum and sculpture garden, hiring all sorts of experts to ensure that the works will be exhibited to best effect, because correct light is absolutely key to the experience of art. Owner of the adjoining land promises not to build above a certain height and to not use glass that is beyond a certain index of reflectivity so as not to ruin the art experience.

    A few years pass. Everyone agrees the museum and the garden are a delight. Absolutely first rate. And the lighting? Superb, perfect.Then suddenly the owner of the adjoining property brings in a different architect who decides the building must be taller, much taller, market forces being what they are. And the glass must be much more reflective, because the original agreement no longer applies and because we want the building to be…well, visible over the entire arts district. A mirror. A veritable beacon.
    Oh, and by the way, we’re calling it Museum Tower because we think that will bring in the kind of clients who want to live next door to a museum experience, albeit not quite the grand experience it was before we flooded the place with unwelcome light.
    We’re a little taken aback by all the complaints, but, hey, we’ve hired our own experts who tell us the light isn’t nearly as bad as everyone says. We can fool around with the ceiling their experts designed to let in just the right amount of light, and as for the garden and the rest of the district we’ve lighted up so brilliantly, well, this is Dallas, isn’t it? You have to expect llght rays bouncing around all over the place? What did you expect? Paris?
    By the way, can I interest you in a condo?


    Greenhouse growers used to whitewash their glass greenhouses to keep the crops shaded and cooler. I suggest a few thousand gallons of water diluted white paint be sprayed on the Museum Tower glass to prevent the glare as an inexpensive solution. Or course, the tower might then be confused for a Claes Oldenburg scuplture of a giant Mennen speed stick deodarant. At least the tower occupants can avoid drapery and blind costs and never have to view our orange smog/ozone layers when the Summer heat inversions park over DFW. Effective and inexpensive !

  • Glenn

    At a recent event I attended there, the concierge/doorman type said they had sold about 15 units, and had a goal of selling 50 percent of the units by the end of the year.