Interview with Architect Ross Conway,USA
Where are you with the Bishop Arts redevelopment?
We will finish the design in next few months, and [developer] Exxir Capital wants to start construction in August for phase one. We want to gradually grow it over a two-year process, getting it built out to let people get used to it, and to take into consideration people’s concerns.
You say the Bishop Arts redevelopment is a once-in-a-career project. Why?
Additions like this are what we really like to do—taking broken or underperforming parts of the city and revitalizing them. Right now, Bishop Arts Avenue has a thriving component, and that’s about a two-block area. The rest of it is kind of broken and run down. What we want to do is extend the Bishop Arts vibe further.
We’ve asked ourselves, how do we add without killing what’s there? We’re spending six times as much design time on this project as what we might do for something else. We’re building 20-foot-wide streets with three-story buildings on each side, filled with cool little shops, the kind that have to bring in their tables each night. We’re bringing a kind of European idea of pedestrian movement to the area, meaning it doesn’t just happen along the main streets, but along the back areas and plazas and smaller parts, too. It will have a main plaza and a chapel, a funky building that will be available for all kinds of civic and private affairs. This chapel will be one of the most used spaces in Dallas because of its flexibility.
What’s your favorite building in Dallas, residential or commercial, and why?
My favorite building is in Fort Worth, and it’s one of the top 10 buildings in the world, in my opinion. The Kimbell Art Museum is elegant, it makes you comfortable, it serves its purpose, and its proportions are simple and classic. It’s so hard to do beautiful, timeless architecture. Usually things are so dated by the kitschy design movements of the day that everybody ends up using. But [Louis I.] Kahn’s Kimbell didn’t do that.