Convention Center to Go? – Fort Worth Weekly
Spaceships may not exist, but Fort Worth’s own spaceship will soon cease to exist at all.
The fate of the 1968 Convention Center Arena, which anchors Commerce Street in an underdeveloped part of downtown, was decided long ago when a master plan for the inner city summed up the thoughts of the city and the public: the building is outdated and ugly, and the commerce curve is a pain in the ass for commuters.
The argument for demolition developed even before the realization that we need to diversify our tax base and sources of income. Visit Fort Worth officials are correct in saying the city is losing conventions to Austin, Charlotte and Denver because our current space is insufficient, but arguments just sound like bullying: the shape of the 13,000-seat arena is not up to modern needs conducive. and the spaceship does not hold onto the charm and attraction of the originality of Sundance Square. Pedestrian traffic in the southern part of the city center has decreased, although the convention center and arena were believed to provide an impetus to revitalize the city center.
Five local architects teamed up to build the original center, a rare example of collaboration in the bitterly disputed area, but Preston M. Geren, Herman E. Cox, Morris Parker, and Hueppelheuser & White and Wilson, Patterson, Sowden, Dunlap & Epperly were hired to revitalize the south end of downtown. It’s a bit ironic that historic Hell’s Half Acre-era buildings were being demolished to make way for them, but the UFO style was an experiment at the time as America looked to space and the future in mid-century. Other UFOs have been received with similar disdain – the Whitfield Condominiums in Guilford, Connecticut, were ashamed when they were built in the 1970s. But now the 13-unit building is popular on the coast.
At Los Angeles International Airport, the so-called Theme Tower, a white spaceship with four steel-reinforced legs, hovers over a restaurant adorned with concrete blocks. LAX, which is currently undergoing an expansion plan, wants to incorporate the Space Age symbol, not destroy it.
The Fort Worth spaceship isn’t as sleek or imposing as the Theme Tower or as chic as the Whitfield Condominiums, but it’s an icon and contrast to the Tarrant County Courthouse at the other end of Main Street. Though not ornate, details such as squiggles that appear around the outer ring, colorful tiles that line the pillars, and antenna-like pillars add character to the crowd. And like every building, it has a story: The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley played there. Most recently, Korean pop star sensation BTS played two sold-out shows there last year, the only venue in the state to do so.
Blaming architecture for lack of progress, however, is an utter scapegoat. It’s irresponsible, short-sighted, and sadly all too common.
After a shooting at a high school near Houston, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick 2018 no stricter gun laws, but a change in the school architecture. He said schools currently have “too many entrances and too many exits”.
A draft executive order, “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” by the Trump administration requires that federal buildings, including courthouses and any federal construction project costing more than $ 50 million, be in a classic style. The contract does not encompass all buildings in this category – the Smithsonian museums are excluded and the projects must be large. The order, which was drawn up with the support of the conservative National Civic Arts League, accuses brutalist and modern architecture of perverting American consciousness. Specifically, Austin’s modern, geometric eight-story limestone federal court was mentioned in the report. It’s pretty low key overall, but its warmth, highlighted by natural light, is innovative – and a nod to transparency. The Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects project was recognized by the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The jurors noted in particular the pronounced awareness of the environment, “the merging of the federal and state levels [the park]and city [San Antonio Plaza] Entities in a happily compatible coexistence. “Closing a street opened up more space for a large function space. It differs little from other federal courts, such as the Art Deco United States Courthouse in Fort Worth, which sits across from, but is not connected to, zigzag modern Burnett Park.
Last month, Fort Worth pushed ahead with a plan that would almost certainly demolish the arena, appointing city, business, and downtown officials to a design review committee tasked with examining options for the nearest convention center. Only one architect, Randy Gideon, sits on the committee. Neither a curator nor an architectural historian was appointed. Another member is downtown stakeholder Ed Bass, the billionaire philanthropist. This appointment may be significant as Bass’ favorite architect is David Schwarz, who made Bass Performance Hall, Sundance Square and Dickies Arena. The likelihood that there is another black structure in the city center is high. Hopefully, after so long a scapegoat in the arena, these officials won’t hit us in the stomach by hiring him.