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UT Arlington launches David Dillon Center for Texas Architecture

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

The University of Texas at Arlington announces the establishment of the new David Dillon Center for Texas Architecture, an initiative of the School of Architecture that will honor the legacy of the longtime architecture critic for The Dallas Morning News.

The center will support the research of faculty and students as they investigate how the region and its architecture have changed across the past several decades.  It also will promote public dialogue about architecture and urbanism in North Texas and beyond.

Kate Holliday, an architectural historian and assistant professor of architecture, has been named director of the new center, which will formally debut with “Architecture Criticism Today,” the inaugural David Dillon Symposium scheduled April 26-27 at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. The symposium is open to the public, but seating is limited.

“The establishment of the David Dillon Center for Texas Architecture marks another significant milestone for UT Arlington's transformation to a major research university,” said Ron Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The rich information the center provides will be invaluable to any serious student of Texas architecture.”

Robert Decherd, chief executive officer of the A.H. Belo Corp., parent company of The Dallas Morning News, said the new Dillon Center is an appropriate recognition of the architecture critic’s many contributions.

“David’s body of work over nearly three decades influenced urban design and architecture in Dallas and throughout Texas to an extraordinary degree. His expertise was recognized nationally,” Decherd said. “This symposium marks the beginning of the important next phase of David’s impact on design standards and the livability of our region.”

Dillon, who died in 2010, kept his meticulous notes, manuscripts and recorded interviews about Texas architecture and architectural journalism itself. He wrote more than 1,000 pieces about architecture for The Dallas Morning News and authored several books, including “Cowboys Stadium: Architecture, Art, Entertainment in the Twenty-First Century,” “Dallas Architecture: 1936-86,” and “The Architecture of O'Neil Ford: Celebrating Place.”

Colleagues credited Dillon with helping shape civic debate on issues across North Texas, from underdevelopment in South Dallas to sprawl in the northern suburbs, famously questioning in a 1980 D Magazine cover story: “Why Is Dallas Architecture So Bad?”

His wife, Sally Dillon, donated her husband’s papers to UT Arlington last year. The materials are currently being cataloged and processed by the Special Collections division of the UT Arlington Library. When the process is complete, the papers will be open to the public.

“David was witness of the evolution of this metropolitan landscape during a formative period from the late 1970s to 2010,” said Don Gatzke, dean of the School of Architecture. “We want to learn from that breadth of knowledge.”

Holliday has already called on the Dillon Papers for her research. The materials include letters and diaries of the architect O’Neil Ford, which Dillon consulted for his 1999 book. Holliday consulted the same documents as she prepared a recent lecture titled “Writing O’Neil Ford,” presented at Trinity University in San Antonio. Ford designed much of the original campus in the 1950s and 1960s. 

The April symposium will explore the changing role and venues for architectural criticism today.

About the David Dillon Symposium

When: April 26-27

Where: The Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas

Who: The symposium is open to the public, but attendees must pay nominal registration fees. Details are available online at http://www.uta.edu/architecture/research/dillon/symposium.php or by calling 817-272-2313.

Speakers: Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for The New Yorker, is scheduled to give keynote remarks at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26, in the Dallas Museum of Art’s Horchow Auditorium, 1717 Harwood St. Panelists include Stephen Fox, Anchorage Foundation; Benjamin Lima, UT Arlington Department of Art and Art History; Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News; Tom Fisher, University of Minnesota; Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times; Alexandra Lange, Design Observer; and Stephen Sharpe, Texas Architect.

Event sponsors: The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Architecture Forum, the Eugene McDermott Foundation, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Nasher Sculpture Center, Museum Tower, a joint venture of Brook Partners and Turtle Creek Holdings; and One Arts Plaza by Billingsley Co.

About The University of Texas at Arlington and the School of Architecture

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,500 students in the heart of North Texas and the second-largest member of The University of Texas System. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

The UT Arlington School of Architecture offers professionally accredited and internationally recognized degrees in ArchitectureInterior Design, and Landscape Architecture. The school’s newest program is a graduate-level Certificate in Property Repositioning and Turnaround added in 2009.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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