Dallas Museum of Art picks Spanish architecture firm for campus overhaul


The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) has selected the Madrid- and Berlin-based architectural firm Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (NSA) to revamp its existing facilities and the surrounding campus. The pick, made by the museum’s selection committee for the project and ratified by its board of trustees on 2 August, comes just weeks after the DMA revealed a shortlist of six firms vying for the project. It will be the first major overhaul of the museum’s facilities since they were inaugurated 39 years ago.

Renderings for NSA’s winning proposal foreground its most distinctive feature, the addition of a new contemporary art gallery that appears to float above the museum’s main building, a Modernist complex designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes and completed in 1984. The square rooftop addition will include galleries, a restaurant, terrace and event space.

Aerial view rendering of the Dallas Museum of Art renovation and expansion © Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos

The project also involves restoring some of Barnes’s favoured symmetry by balancing the museum’s north and south façades. The design will add some porousness and transparency to the somewhat monolithic exterior, adding a perforated surface that will be augmented with a light-based art piece. New, transparent glazing at ground level on the building’s north and east façades will also give passersby views directly into the museum. More prosaic features of the design include a new covered loading dock and upgraded facilities and office space for staff and conservation projects.

The winning firm’s “concept design mixes a poetic sensibility with a dynamic and sustainable design strategy that respects Larrabee’s original intentions, all the while preparing us to become a 21st-century museum”, board president Gowri N. Sharma and board chairman Jeffrey S. Ellerman said in a joint statement. “We need a building that reflects our importance to the city and has the potential to introduce new ways to present and interact with art.”

Rendering of the transformed Ross Avenue Plaza at the Dallas Museum of Art © Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos

The DMA renovation will be NSA’s first project in the US, though the firm has experience in the arts and culture field, having completed projects in Spain including the Madinat al Zahra Museum in Cordoba, the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastian and the National Sculpture Museum in Valladolid, as well as the expansion of the Moritzburg Museum in Halle, Germany. The firm was co-founded in Madrid by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano in 1985. It received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010 and the Alvar Aalto Medal in 2015, among other major honours in the field.

NSA prevailed over a starry field of shortlisted firms that included recent the office of Pritzker Prize winner David Chipperfield, New York’s Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and the Los Angeles-based firms Johnston Marklee (which designed the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston) and Michael Maltzan Architecture (which recently completed an extensive revamp of the Hammer Museum).

Development of the DMA project now shifts to a newly formed Master Facilities Plan Task Force, which will work with stakeholders and NSA’s team to refine the design, gather community feedback and develop a budget and timeline for the project.


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