According to a post on tech and design blog Gizmodo, design firm REX was commissioned by the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund in 2012 to design a “third option” to buffer the glare from Museum Tower that was affecting the Nasher Sculpture Center.
While any tower would reflect some light back into the Nasher’s galleries and impede views from the galleries to the sky, Museum Tower’s height, elliptical plan geometry, and highly reflective glass greatly exacerbate these problems. A perfect storm is born that will mire the Nasher and Museum Tower in pointed argument, and plague the aura of Dallas’s important cultural district.
The Nasher proposes Museum Tower cover its southwestern exposure with an external louver system. Museum Tower responds that this solution is not structurally feasible, is prohibitively expensive, and will render the residential units less commercially attractive, thereby jeopardizing the project’s profitability. Museum Tower notes that no alteration to its exterior will fully eliminate glare into the galleries, one of the Nasher’s demands.
Museum Tower proposes to redesign the Nasher’s oculi, such that the Tower is no longer visible through the sunscreen and its glare is blocked. The Nasher responds that the sunscreen was considered by Ray Nasher (who passed away in 2007) to be a significant part of the sculpture collection he gave to Dallas, and that adjusting the oculi will not improve Museum Tower’s negative impacts to the Nasher’s adjacent sculpture garden.
The New York firm was tasked with finding a way to reduce the glare’s effects on the landmark museum without altering either structure, cause as little impact on the real estate value of Museum Tower as possible, and be a positive addition to the Dallas Arts District. Joshua Prince-Ramus came up with was “Surya”: a dynamic sun shield that changed shape according to the seasonal light patterns reflecting off of the 104-unit condo tower.
“Building a static blind of this dimension would block the commanding views from the multi-million dollar apartments on Museum Tower’s southwestern face, rendering them largely worthless,” the report from REX states. “Hence, the shade is pixelized into variably dimensioned umbrellas that “blossom” in the precise constellation needed at any given moment of the day, and retract when not.”
It’s a pretty cool design, which includes a cascade of umbrellas that open and close in succession as the sun moves across Museum Tower. I don’t know what kind of material would be involved, but considering our summers, it would have to be heat-proof and built to weather high winds.
A year ago, Willard Spiegelman wrote this about the proposed structure in the Wall Street Journal:
The second is a bizarre plan for an almost 400-foot construction—part sculpture, part machine—by the architect Joshua Prince-Ramus, to stand between the two buildings and to diffuse the light. It looks like a multidimensional arch that would open and close as needed in order to control glare. The tower people consider this a bold statement that will add to the panache of the arts district. The Nasher people say no: It will be wildly expensive ($20 million to $30 million), and it will overwhelm, as well as overshadow, their delicate museum, what Mr. Piano refers to as “my little gallery.” Goliath threatens David once more.
I wonder if, a year later, Surya isn’t looking a little more feasible. What do you think?