Art Works Blog

MICD25 Spotlight on Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Re-imagining existing infrastructure is a Dallas CityDesign opportunity. Photo by Arturo del Castillo, Dallas CityDesign Studio

In 2009, the CityDesign Studio was created as an office of the City of Dallas, Texas. Developed in partnership with the Trinity Trust Foundation and funded by Deedie and Rusty Rose, the Studio's mission is to engage all communities in city planning, urban design, and the arts. We spoke with CityDesign Studio Director Brent A. Brown to learn more about Dallas' MICD25 project.

NEA:  Please describe your project and what you hope it will bring to the residents of Dallas.

BRENT A. BROWN: ?Connecting the City? is an ambitious effort of the new City of Dallas CityDesign Studio working to engage citizens, local art/design professionals, and experts from across our city in a dialogue about Dallas? physical form. Our greatest challenge is beginning to connect the communities of our city together, and---over the course of the next year---Connecting the City will bring design and attention to the communities along our changing river. This effort of public design will prepare the way for greater awareness and connectivity between neighborhoods and cultural assets by directly engaging art and design to overcome historical neglect and physical barriers separating our communities. For example, at the west end of the new Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, an electrical sub-station (one of our largest) will be re-imagined through the lens of a collaborative art/design team to address its physical challenges with respect to the future arrival of thousands to an area of modest homes and industrial character. Specific design interventions such as this coupled with cultural mapping and the development of new communication tools, this next year will be the beginning of work for many years to come.

NEA: Why is it important to have arts and culture at the table when planning community revitalization efforts?

BROWN: The arts are key. So often, we move too quickly away from the current character of a place in order to re-invent the image in the name of progress. So often the qualities of a place are our key to what we should do going forward. Art demands that we stop and notice.

NEA:  Given the nature of your project, how do you define the term "public art"?

BROWN: Public art helps us to see a place more clearly. This can be by the interaction with a more traditional piece of object art or by way of art transforming something we see everyday in a new way.  That is where our project resides---public art as transformer.

NEA:  How important is MICD25 funding for the success of your project?

BROWN: Absolutely critical---the NEA by providing economic funding has helped move this effort forward but equally important is the recognition of our project and the association with the other outstanding projects across the United States. We cannot say thank you loud enough.

NEA: Any last words?

BROWN: Come see us---really! There are great things happening in Dallas and we would love to share them with you first hand.

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