Knox Park

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Join Kate Medin on Tuesday, December 17th as she shares her recent research on the Knox Park neighborhood. Knox Park is a pie-piece shaped neighborhood tucked between Central Expressway and the Katy Trail. Flanked originally by two railroads, it remains a unique entity in the city due to its infrastructural isolation. Through the influence of its neighbors, it has converted from one of Dallas' first northern suburbs to a retail and multifamily residential hub. This discussion will focus on how infrastructure not only shapes the physical environment, but also the culture of a place.

Bexar Street Corridor

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It's time to celebrate! 2013 marks exactly 100 years of development within the Bexar Street Corridor. Originally platted in 1913, Lincoln Manor, Lincoln Manor No. 2, Elite, Ervay Cedars, and Camps Peachland were the first housing developments to appear in neighborhoods contemporarily known as Ideal and Rochester Park/Bonton, both which sit within the Bexar Street Corridor in the southernmost portion of South Dallas. This research investigated the historic vicissitudes associated with those developments by virtue of markets and policy response. By examining the last 100 years of development history within the Bexar Street Corridor, this presentation aims to inform contemporary development practices and policy by understanding what was effective, what was not, why, and what that meant for the community.

Dallas' Streetcars

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Can public, transit-oriented infrastructure be both market-driven and sustainable? Join TJ Bogan Tuesday, November 19th, as he shares how the history of streetcars in the city of Dallas (1872 - 1956) tells us a rich story of civic development and urban expansion driven by private investment for private gain. Before automobiles and publicly funded transportation networks, street rail was the key to urban growth. Benefiting from an era of weak government, foresighted individuals were able to buy up previously exurban land and make it accessible from the urban core, reaping a profit on the increased property value. What was good for them was good for the city.

In the first half of the twentieth century, government regulation increased, and the new accountability proved an insurmountable burden. New modes of transportation were introduced, and automobiles took precedence on the city's streets.

In Dallas, the streetcar rose and fell as a privately funded public amenity. Through analysis of our past, we are now in a position to critique our current subsidized transit infrastructure.

Turtle Creek Corridor

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Isaac Cohen shares his explorations of the Turtle Creek Corridor and how the layering of use, management, and development has created an urban landscape that provides highly variable and often unexpected experiences. Turtle Creek is often seen as a natural object within the urban fabric; as a visual backdrop to the activities of the city. In reality, Turtle Creek is a dynamic and highly manipulated urban waterway that supports a wide variety of recreational, economic, and ecological activity that reveals to us varied ways groups value and use a shared public space.

Join us in exploring the historic and contemporary use and development of Turtle Creek from the scale of the watershed to the development of George Kessler’s plan for the Turtle Creek Parkway.

Design Sketches

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July 25, 2013: Design Sketches

Reception begins at 5:00 PM, with talks at 5:30. Please RSVP.

Speakers will offer short talks about their work, how it intersects with design, and what they believe is essential to make Dallas a healthier, more vibrant, livable city for all. Confirmed speakers: Ann Bagley, Rob Colburn, Bang Dang, Wanda Dye, Omar Hakeem, Anna Hill, Tipton Housewright, Christa McCall, Cynthia Mulcahy, and David Preziosi.

Presentation themes: What is the true value of preservation in revitalizing communities? How can public art serve as a mirror and amplifier of community identity? When are physical design solutions needed to meet social needs? How can grassroots organizing booster the work of local governments?

Dallas City Grid(s)

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by Aaron Benjamin

Every new bcFELLOW arriving at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP receives a small research assignment. It serves partially as an introduction to bcWORKSHOP, and partially as an introduction to the city of Dallas. Most FELLOWs study the development of a single neighborhood, often one with some other link to the work of our office. But instead of studying one neighborhood, my assignment was to study the entire Dallas street grid. Not really a small research assignment. Did I mention I had never even been to Dallas before joining bcWORKSHOP?


Whenever I told anyone I was studying the Dallas street grid I always received the exact same two-word response. “What grid?”, he would reply, half joking, half serious. And it’s true. Dallas does not have the nice clean street layout like Manhattan, or even Washington D.C. (which makes a lot more sense from the air then when you actually have to navigate through it). Heck, even Los Angeles, where I had been living, had nice numbered streets and something resembling order. In Dallas, I have taken the wrong street many times. Or a street has taken a bend and gone a completely different direction than the one I was intending to travel. And I still have not figured out how that Exposition Avenue intersection works, even after this project.

However, it was my job to make sense of this mess. And the truth is, if you break it down and look at the individual pieces, it is really not all that complicated. Every street was laid out by some (reasonably) rational individual, even if that reason is no longer obvious. With a few exceptions, most streets follow one of three grids, each older than the city itself:

  • A grid at 45 degrees to the cardinal directions, laid out by a man named Warren Ferris for settler John Grigsby. This covers areas like Old East Dallas, Oak Lawn and South Dallas.
  • A grid aligned to the cardinal directions laid out under businessman W.J. Peters for the Peter’s Colony venture, which covers a portion of North Texas about the size of the state of Maryland. This is all the large square sections as you move away from the center of Dallas to the north and into Oak Cliff.
  • The grid laid out by John Neely Bryan aligned with the Trinity River. That is the streets like Commerce, Main and Elm, that spread northeast through downtown into Deep Ellum.

Throw in about a dozen railroads, competing real estate interests (a surprising number of which were settled in the Supreme Court of Texas), the Trinity River, and a gaggle of freeways, you end up with the street layout Dallas has today.

The streets of Dallas account for a huge portion of our city, both in terms of the physical land and the way we experience our city. So instead of resigning ourselves to jokingly asking “What grid?”, let’s see if we can gain something by actually discovering what is going on.

Public Design in the Crescent City

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June 20, 2013: Public Design in the Crescent City

Maurice Cox is an urban designer, architectural educator and civic leader. Cox serves as the Associate Dean for Community Engagement at Tulane UniversitySchool of Architecture and Director of the Tulane City Center where he oversees a wide range of initiatives with Tulane architecture faculty and students throughout the New Orleans community. He joined the faculty of Tulane from the University of Virginia where he was an Associate Professor of Architecture, and served as mayor of the city of Charlottesville, Virginia from 2002-2004. Cox also served as Design Director of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2007-2010. In that capacity, he led the NEA’s Your Town Rural Institute, the Governor’s Institute on Community Design, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, and oversaw direct design grants to the design community across the United States.

Over his 17-year career at the UVA, Cox merged architecture, politics and design education to define a new role for the designer—that of civic leader. Nationally respected for his ability to incorporate active citizen participation into the design process while achieving the highest quality of design excellence, Fast Company business magazine named him one of America’s "20 Masters of Design" in recognition of his practice of "democratic design." A founding partner of RBGC Architecture, Research and Urbanism from 1996-2006 the firm was acclaimed for its partnerships with communities traditionally underserved by architecture. Their design for a New Rural Village in Bayview, Virginia received numerous national design awards as well as being featured on CBS’s "60 Minutes" and in the documentary film "This Black Soil". A recipient of the 2009 Edmund Bacon Prize, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design 2004-05 Loeb Fellowship and the 2006 John Hejduk Award for Architecture, Cox received his architectural education from the Cooper Union School of Architecture.

At Tulane, in addition to directing the Tulane City Center, Cox works with the highly successful programs of URBANbuild, the Tulane Regional Urban Design Center, the preservation program and the school’s new Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development program, all which are community outreach design initiatives of the university.

Academic Influences Panel

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June 7, 2013: Opening Reception and Panel

On Friday, June 7th, bcWORKSHOP hosted a panel on the relationship between academic institutions, professional design practices, and the national public design movement. The panel was moderated by bcWORKSHOP's Associate Director Benje Feehan, and included Yasenia Blandon, the co-founder of Latinos in Architecture and Associate at Perkins + Will, Danny Samuels of the Rice Building Workshop, and Don Gatzke, Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Public Design by Texas Students

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Texas Design Schools: Exhibiting Public Interest Projects

bcSHOPFRONT is pleased to announce its summer 2013 series of programming anchored by the exhibit, Texas Design Schools: Exhibiting Public Interest Projects. The exhibit will be open June 7th- July 25th and highlight projects by Texas university architecture and design students. Chosen works, selected by a jury of nationally recognized public design practitioners, showcase the current impact of the public design movement on regional architecture education practices. A diverse range of programs including panels, talks, and casual design socials are free and open to the public.

David Perkes at Shopfront

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Public Interest Practices in Architecture

David Perkes is part of a four person national team with Bryan Bell, Roberta Feldman, and Sergio Palleroni to receive the 2011 Latrobe Prize from the American Institute of Architects, a biennial prize dedicated to broadening the perspective and scope of architecture to include cross-disciplinary fields and expertise. Their project is entitled, "Public Interest Practices in Architecture" and seeks to address three questions.

  • What are the needs that can be addressed by public interest practices?
  • How are current public interest practices operating?
  • What is necessary for public interest work to become a significant segment of architecture practice?

The Latrobe Prize is awarded by the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows. Founded in 1952, this organization is composed of members of the Institute who are elected to Fellowship by a jury of their peers. The College of Fellows seeks to stimulate a sharing of interests among Fellows, promote the purposes of the Institute, advance the profession of architecture, mentor young architects, and be of ever-increasing service to society. Toward that end, the College seeks to encourage research that broadens the perspective and scope of architecture to include cross-disciplinary fields and expertise through its biennial competition: the Latrobe Prize.

David Perkes is a licensed architect and professor for Mississippi State University.  He is the founding director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a professional outreach program of the College of Architecture, Art + Design, Mississippi State University. The design studio was established in Biloxi, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina and is providing planning, landscape and architectural design support to many Gulf Coast communities and non-profit organizations.  The design studio has assisted in the renovation of hundreds of damaged homes and over two hundred new house projects in Biloxi and other communities.  The Biloxi house projects were awarded an Honor Citation from the Gulf States Region AIA in 2007, a Terner Award for Innovative Housing and a Mississippi AIA Honor Citation in 2009.  The Bayou Auguste restoration project received a Mississippi AIA Honor Citation in 2012.  In 2011 David was selected by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his work on the Gulf Coast.

Before creating the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, David was the director of the Jackson Community Design Center and taught in the School of Architecture’s fifth year program in Jackson, Mississippi.  Under his leadership the Jackson Community Design Center assisted many community organizations and received numerous national and local awards, including a Mississippi AIA Honor Award for the Boys and Girls Club Camp PavilionDavid has a Master of Environmental Design degree from Yale School of Architecture, a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Utah, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Utah State University.  In 2004 David was awarded a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Transforming Communities Through Art

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On March 19, 2013, bcSHOPFRONT hosted Rick Lowe of Project Row Houses. Rick Lowe is an artist who works and resides in Houston, Texas. His formal training is in the visual arts; over the past twenty years he has worked both inside and outside of art world institutions by participating in exhibitions and developing community-based art projects. Rick's work has been exhibited internationally including the Phoenix Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York, Kwangji Biennale, Kwangji, Korea; and the Venice Architecture Biennale. His community building projects include Watts House Project, Los Angeles, CA; and a project for the Seattle Art Museum in their new Olympic Sculpture Park with David Adjaye. Rick has been honored with the Rudy Bruner Award in Urban Excellence Silver Medalist; the AIA Keystone Award; Loeb Fellow at Harvard University; Skandalaris Award for Excellence in Art Architecture; USA Booth Fellowship; and the Creative Time Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change.

In commemoration of the Nasher Sculpture Center's 10th anniversary, Rick Lowe will participate in Nasher XChange, a dynamic art exhibition consisting of 10 newly - commissioned public sculptures by contemporary artists at sites throughout the city of Dallas from October 19, 2013 to February 16, 2014. Covering a diverse range of sites and approaches to sculpture, Nasher XChange represents the first citywide, museum-organized public art exhibition in the United States.

Project Row House (PRH) is a non-profit arts organization in Northern Third Ward, one of Houston’s oldest African-American communities. Lowe's belief that artwork can serve as a tool to both voice social issues and also create resolutions was the foundation of this project . This idea engaged the community, encouraging local residents to see value and opportunity in their neighborhood as the Project reinvented damaged, abandoned row houses in an isolated Houston neighborhood. Since inception, the PRH location has expanded from 22 properties to 40 over 6 blocks. The reinvented properties house artist residency programs, housing for young mothers in need, additional residences for low-income families, affordable office spaces, a community arts gallery, park, and other community centers. As PRH has grown, the impact on the community has multiplied- the neighborhood is more connected to the larger surrounding area, members of the neighborhood have organized to implement and establish their ideas, and a community development corporation was spawned, producing nine low income housing units to date.

Announcing bcSHOPFRONT

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Public design is an international movement which emphasizes community planning and creates positive changes through the built environment. bcWORKSHOP employs design to deliver and advocate for more livable communities. Local experiences and interests direct our work. We form strong relationships through place based product development, and work daily ensuring design is accessible and in service to all communities no matter their economic resources.

bcSHOPFRONT is an initiative of bcWORKSHOP featuring exhibits, talks, and activities related to the national public design movement and its impact on Dallas. It examines work of all scales- local, regional, state, and national- which promotes public design as a commonplace process. To position Dallas within the larger movement, the inaugural Spring 2013 series relates WORKSHOP’s local work to influential national institutions and practitioners.