In just a few years, Facades+ has become a go-to event for anyone interested in advancing their approach to designing the most prominent aspect of any building. Hosted by The Architects Newspaper, the series’ next installment, Facades+AM—a morning-length version of the two-day conferences held elsewhere—will be held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas on February 20.
Most buildings are designed to relate to their specific context, and building enclosures—facades—are a crucial element in defining that relationship, for occupants as much as for the public. The conference’s three panels are intended to explore how we as architects can use building enclosures to address the region’s context, which has rapidly evolved since the conference’s last visit, in 2016.
Dallas-Fort Worth adds an average of 400 residents per day, a rapid growth due to at least three major factors: a strong economy, its proximity to other population centers, and its affordability when compared to regions of a similar size. In addition, major employers are expanding to peripheral communities like Frisco and Plano. With sudden growth comes sudden challenges, and the region is addressing issues related to public transit, health, environmental stewardship, and historic preservation. Issues like these are not uncommon, but in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, they add up to a compelling mix. Paying close attention to their lessons will lead to more responsive interventions.
In planning for the event alongside my colleague and conference co-chair Ezra Loh, we sought to illustrate how certain exemplary projects offer a design narrative through their enclosures. Each panel looks at the research that went into their development and articulation, and at how they support their communities’ interests.
One panel will be led by Perkins+Will’s Sustainable Design Leader, Mary Dickinson, who will explore how, with the increase of acute weather events, as well as newly adopted energy codes and the growing need for material assessments, designing facades in Texas has adopted a new set of sustainability-oriented criteria. The discussion will also focus on an examination of an academic health-sciences project in Houston that was a benchmark for performance-driven design.
Two additional panels will discuss differing forms of place-making. The first will tackle expansive corporate projects in Plano, where Toyota has drawn attention and appeal by using high-performing enclosures for their recently relocated North American headquarters. The second will look at the Lamplighter School, a co-ed day school in Dallas. There, a recent innovation lab offers a balanced intervention to the school’s beloved campus, which was designed by Texas stalwarts O’Neill Ford and Frank Welch. The panelists and I will explore how new architecture can respond to an existing legacy.
The Facades+ program speaks to how we as architects can advance envelope design, yet it also pushes the conversation beyond the realm of the technical, extending the work that The Architects Newspaper has done on the topic. As the Dallas-Fort Worth region grows outward and upward, we must guide that development with thoughtful and innovative approaches.