Are you aware of any AIA [American Institute of Architects] tours for the downtown [Dallas] area” I have long participated in AIA tours in other cities, but haven’t had the opportunity to here in Dallas – I would appreciate your insight. Thanks.
(submitted by Marcia S.)
I checked in with the friendly folks at the Dallas AIA office, and they were sad to admit that they did not actually have any tours of their own throughout the year. However, every April they do participate in Dallas Architecture Month. Although the website isn’t updated quite yet for this year’s event, you might want to check back closer to time. It will be posted on P&C once they update.
One organization that has some really fantastic tours and monthly meetings for members is Preservation Dallas. Granted, you won’t see a great deal of brand new architecture, but you will see some exceptional renovations and, of course, preservation. The next Preservation Dallas "Intown Outing" is on Tuesday, February 7th @ the newly renovated Belmont Hotel. Be sure to catch that one.
The Dallas Historical Society also organizes tours. Granted, they tend to focus on events and happenings of the past, but many of those involve buildings and urban developments that still exist. Among other appealing events, we noticed that they have a tour coming up on April 29, 2006 called “Amid the Skyscrapers of Downtown Dallas.”
Another option is the Arts District Stroll. Dallas has an amazing Arts District on the north edge of downtown. Buildings designed by Renzo Piano and I.M.Pei stand there now, and they will be joined in the coming years by more civic arts structures by Rem Koolhaas and Norman Foster. (All four are Pritzker Architecture Prize winners.) There is a tour on the first Saturday of every month at 10:30a for free or by private appointment for a nominal charge.
You should definitely investigate the Dallas Architecture Forum. This dynamic group sponsors amazing lectures and panel discussions by notable international architects regarding design and urban development – old, new, theoretical and under construction. It may not be exactly what you are looking for, but it might get you in touch with people who give or have access to private architectural tours.
Lastly, don’t miss out on local neighborhood tours. For being such a relatively young city, Dallas has many distinct areas – the Swiss Avenue Historic District, the Hollywood Santa Monica Neighborhood Association, and Kessler Park, to name but a few – that are quite organized and hold their own annual or bi-annual events.
Marcia, we admire you for wanting to take advantage of what the city has to offer. We encourage all of our readers to seek out similar organizations and events in their fair city or berg. If you can’t find anything to your liking, then organize it yourself. You’ll learn a lot, become the local hero, gain a little publicity for yourself and your business, and make some friends with whom you share a passion.