Update: Nasher Sculpture Center Controversy

© Tim Hursley

As an update to the article we posted several months ago regarding the disputed ‘hot spot’ in between Renzo Piano‘s Nasher Sculpture Center and the adjacent residential tower, the controversy is still a hot issue. The reflection caused by the sculpture center is still something they have not been able to solve. Any solution will be costly and difficult. The Nasher people have recommended louvers covering the tower’s south face. The tower people say that this will require a computer-generated engine for every window, about two years to study, even more time to install. And it may not work. More information after the break.

This year both parties met to begin working toward some sort of solution. Negotiations soon turned sour; squabbles ensued. The tower people wanted the museum to modify its roof. The museum replied by saying, essentially, “we were here first.” Tom Luce, a local lawyer and civic leader, agreed to act as a mediator. Late last month he stepped aside in frustration.

The tower people have brought forth two experimental solutions. The first is a form of nanotechnology that will coat and harden all the windows with a carbon-based spray. The Nasher officials call it “pixie dust.”

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.

The tower people also say the least expensive solution will be for the museum to redirect the Piano roof apparatus so that light from the high-rise does not enter the galleries. Museum officials say that this plan, in addition to insulting Mr. Piano, will lower the inside illumination by 50% and do nothing to mitigate the effects of light and heat on the gardens. To which the tower people reply that damage to the garden at the Nasher has been minimal, that the Kentucky bluegrass carpeting the lawn is ecologically inappropriate for the Texas climate, and that the trees look just fine. Each side has hired its own consultants to evaluate the damage to the landscape; not surprisingly, they have come up with differing conclusions.

When the tower is finished, the owners of the immense penthouse will have a 360-degree view of Dallas, the prairie beyond, and also of a still largely un-residential downtown that includes work by seven Pritzker Award-winning architects: Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster, Philip Johnson, Rem Koolhass, Thom Mayne, I.M. Pei and Mr. Piano. What they won’t see is the very building that has caused such local consternation: their own. Whether Museum Tower will ultimately be considered a work of beauty, a symbol of aggressive capitalism, a white elephant or some combination, remains to be known.

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Update: Nasher Sculpture Center Controversy" 26 Nov 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=298103>
  • KJ Johnson

    The sculptural machine designed by Joshua Prince-Ramus sounds amazing. they could definitely get away with something like that.

  • David McEvoy

    You should probably fact check whether Calatrava is a Pritzker Prize winner…