A Shifting Sense of Urban Design in Dallas
In a wide-ranging piece, Mark Lamster describes a transitional mood in Dallas. Highlighted by large-scale projects like the Trinity River park project, slated to be an order of magnitude larger than Central Park, a more "progressive" set of urban design choices includes new mid-rise and high-rise construction.
Lamster sees much of the new development, housing in particular, as architecturally lacking. Think "banal, pro-forma junk, five-story beige blocks." But en masse, mid-rise neighborhoods can redeem themselves. "From an urban design standpoint, one bad building alone is actually worse than two together. A single building sticks out like a sore thumb, and does nothing for the street. But several together can at least define a place, creating a streetscape that subsumes individual deficiencies."
Lamster points to several examples of new buildings done wrong, and right. Of the city's Arts District, he writes, "For more than a year, a revised master plan for the area has sat on a shelf as its architects wait for the city to take it up. Only in Dallas do you build the buildings and then release the master plan."