Reimagining the Dallas Museum of Art


Six Firms Compete to Rethink the Future of a Major Museum


(The scheduled announcement of the competition winner is to occur in August. Until that time we will refrain from commenting on the merits of the individual entries. In viewing the presentation boards of the six shortlisted firms below, readers should not draw any conclusions as to the order in which they are listed.)


The history of the Dallas Museum of Art’s expansion has been punctuated by several moves, culminating in a new building designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes in 1984. The importance of this move to a new, somewhat desolate location in the city cannot be underestimated: it has led to the revitalization of what is now called the “Arts District,” with the relocation of various arts institutions to new facilities: the opera house (Foster and Partners), Dee and Charles Wyly Performing Arts Theater (REX/OMA), Nasher Sculpture Center (Renzo Piano), and I.M. Pei’s Meyerson Symphony Center being among the most significant. 


Image ©Wikimapia


As has been the case with numerous art museums, demands for more space to enable the showing of an expanding inventory. together with recognition that art is not just for the elites, has led those institutions to rethink how a museum should function in modern day society. With new high-rise buildings surrounding the present DMA, the present building, with an Indiana limestone facade, had to some “become unwelcoming, off-putting, and defensive.” To address this issue, both for expansion and refurbishment of the existing DMA, the Trustees looked to a competition to bring the best ideas for the new project. This decision should be seen against the background of a local/regional context: Dallas’s nearby, smaller neighbor, Fort Worth, had been at the forefront of museum design on the national and international scene when it came to museum design. Louis Kahn’s Kimball Museum (1972) was a pilgrimage destination for young architects, and Tadeo Ando’s Museum of Modern Art there had been the result of a competition (1997).


The previous choice of Barnes had certainly been a step in this direction, and with all this in mind, the DMA engaged Malcolm Reading Consultants of London to administer a program which eventually resulted in a two-stage format—a call for qualifications resulting in 174 responses from various firms around the world, and a shortlisting process with six finalists:


• David Chipperfield Architects (London, UK)
• Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York, USA)
• Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles, USA)

• Michael Maltzan Architecture (Los Angeles, USA)
• Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (Madrid, Spain)
• Weiss/Manfredi, New York (USA)


The intention of the competition was to address the following themes:

• Bring life into the building: give the DMA vibrancy, reimagine it as welcoming and accessible to all, and engaged with all of Dallas’ diverse communities.
• Enhance the DMA’s Downtown campus: increase its visibility and give it transparency to show Dallas citizens what’s happening inside.
• Present the DMA’s iconic artworks in exemplary flexible spaces that enable dynamic programming.
• Refresh the Museum’s connection with its immediate urban landscape.
• Revitalize the DMA as the premier visitor destination in the Dallas Arts District with new event spaces and appealing food service offerings.
• Attract visitors to Dallas to boost the Arts and local economy and raise regional, national and international awareness of the DMA and the city of Dallas.
• Communicate the DMA’s core values — art at the center, equity and community at the core — and reaffirm the Museum as a cultural anchor for Dallas, the City’s founding cultural organization, in the run-up to the DMA’s 125 anniversary in 2028.


The composition of the evaluation committee was as follows:

  • Jennifer Eagle, Architect Selection Committee Co-Chair
  • Lucilo Peña, Architect Selection Committee Co-Chair; Former Trustee; President of Development, Billingsley Company
  • Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director, Dallas Museum of Art
  • Zaida Basora, FAIA; Executive Director, The American Institute of Architects – Dallas 
  • Mary McDermott Cook, Trustee
  • Jeff Ellerman, Chairman of the Board of the Trustees; Vice Chairman CBRE 
  • Marguerite Steed Hoffman, Former Trustee 
  • Darren L. James, FAIA; NOMA; President, KAI Enterprises 
  • Howard Rachofsky, Former Trustee 
  • Catherine Marcus Rose, Trustee and Former President of the Board of Trustees 
  • Deedie Rose, Trustee
  • Jennifer Scripps, President and CEO Downtown Dallas, Inc. 
  • Gowri Sharma, President of the Board of Trustees 
  • Gayle Stoffel, Trustee


Expansion on the present site was an obvious choice. Not only would elements of the present structure serve well as a base for expansion; but the two-block site will be large enough to accommodate more space with adequate landscaping. A cursory look at the quality of the presentations by the six finalists certainly indicates that a final decision resulting in a new look for the DMA may not be easy.






David Chipperfield Architects (London)
with HarrisonKornberg Architects (Local Architect); James Corner Field Operations (Landscape Architect); Pentagram (Exhibition Design); Thornton Tomasetti (Structural Engineer); Arup (Services and Lighting); and Atelier Ten (Sustainability)





Unless otherwise noted, all above images ©David Chipperfield Architects, courtesy MRC




Diller Scovidio + Renfro (New York, NY)
with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. (Landscape Architect); Arup (MEP, Sustainability, and Daylighting Engineer); LERA Consulting Structural Engineers (Structural Engineer); and New Affiliates (Exhibition Design); New Affiliates (Exhibition Design); and GFF (Local Architect)








Unless otherwise noted, all above images ©Diller Scofidia + Renfro, courtesy MRC




Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles)
with Christ & Gantenbein (Museum Specialists); MOS Architects (Public Realm); Sam Jacob Studio (Exhibition Design); Hargreaves Jones (Landscape Architect); Buro Happold (MEP and Sustainability Engineer); Walter P. Moore with Martinez Moore Engineers (Structural Engineer); and Kendall/Heaton Associates (Local Architect)







Unless otherwise noted, all above images ©Johnston Marklee, courtesy MRC






Michael Maltzan Architecture (Los Angeles)
with with Studio Zewde (Landscape Architect); Guy Nordenson and Associates (Structural Design Engineer); Buro Happold (MEP Engineer); Atelier Ten (Sustainability); and JSA/MIXdesign (Exhibition Design and Accessibility)




Unless otherwise noted, all above images ©Michael Maltzan Architecture, courtesy MRC




Nieto Sobeyano Arquitectos (Madrid)
with Atelier Culbert (Exhibition Design); SWA Group (Landscape Architect); Arup (MEP, Lighting, and Sustainability Engineer); Bollinger+Grohmann (Structural and Façade Engineer); and PGAL (Local Architect)



Unless otherwise noted, all above images ©Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos, courtesy MRC




Weiss/Manfredi (New York)
with Hood Design Studio (Landscape Architect); WeShouldDoItAll (Exhibition Design); DVDL (Cultural Strategists); Thornton Tomasetti (Structural Engineer); Jaros, Baum & Bolles (MEP/FP Engineer); and Atelier Ten (Sustainability)








Unless otherwise noted, all above images ©Weiss/Manfredi, courtesy MRC


For additional information and to see the finalists’ videos: