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Feeling ‘Pressure’ in the Nasher/Tower Fight

The people behind Museum Tower are on a PR blitz to air “their side” in that nasty ongoing flap with the Nasher Sculpture Center. (See Tim’s cover story for the spat’s complete history.) Recently the tower people took their arguments to the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News. They also opened up the luxury-condo building itself to various reporters (including me). Now they’ve run a full-page ad in the DMN urging the Nasher to accept the tower’s “solution” to the famous glare problem. Their fix: reconfigure the oculi cones on the Nasher roof so they point in a different direction, all on the tower’s dime. As for glare damaging the Nasher garden and the rest of the arts district? The tower people insist the garden is just fine—and reflectivity is a necessary “feature of life” in an urban environment.

When the oculi solution was first proposed, the Nasher dismissed it quickly as a publicity stunt. As a result Greg Greene, a partner at Turtle Creek Holdings and an original developer of the tower, says: “I’d like it if the Nasher felt a little bit of public pressure to at least try this.” Thus, apparently, the media tear.

Whichever side you support in this standoff—and most seem to back the Nasher—two points in the tower’s argument are fascinating. 1.) They contend their oculi roof fix represents a technological advancement over what was available to Nasher developer Renzo Piano back when the center went up. “His concept was simple,” Greene says. “Ours does a better job.” 2.) Greene says that Mark Banta, the now-departed president of Klyde Warren Park, phoned him before Banta left the job and said, “I’m under pressure from the Nasher to complain about [glare from the tower]. But, it’s not hurting our plants. I don’t see how it could, and I refuse to say something I don’t believe.” We reached out to both Banta and the Nasher for comment, but so far neither has responded.

UPDATE: Responding to what she calls Museum Tower’s “$40,000″ full-page ad, Nasher spokeswoman Jill Magnuson tells us, “Once again, the owners of Museum Tower … have demonstrated that they would prefer to dissipate the resources of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System with an expensive propaganda campaign intended to mislead the public rather than accept responsibility for the problem they’ve created and fix their building.” Regarding Banta she says, “I’m sure it was hard for him as the Museum Tower was a sponsor of the Park and the major sponsor for opening weekend for them.” She adds that Park visitors noticed the tower’s glare on opening weekend, according to a WFAA-TV story, and that “we did provide Mr. Banta with our sun reflection studies upon his first month on the job so that he could determine for himself if he would have any impact that he would need to prepare for.”