blog

Stay In The Know

Behind the Trammell Crow Center Renovation: An Interview With the Architects

Since its original construction in 1985, Trammell Crow Center has long been an iconic part of the Dallas skyline and a flagship of the Arts District on Ross Avenue. But now there's a new Trammell Crow Center in town. As of last year, this Dallas icon began embarking on a sweeping $135 million renovation and expansion to transform it into a mixed-use destination and redefine the Arts District.

 

The redevelopment plans include (but aren’t limited to):

  • 1.1 million square feet of office space
  • 1.4 acres of outdoor gathering space
  • 3:1,000 parking ratio
  • 34,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space
  • 9,000-square-foot conference center
  • 9,000-square-foot athletic club
  • 200-room boutique hotel
  • 400-unit residential tower 

 

 

 

We had a chance to speak with HKS Inc. and HOK, the architects of Trammell Crow Center’s redevelopment, to learn more about their vision and approach. Following are excerpts from the interview:

 

 

CELEBRATING THE BUILDING’S STRENGTHS

 

Trammell Crow Center has long been a staple of the Dallas skyline. How has this affected your approach in designing the updated space and the accompanying 2000 Ross project?

 

HOK: The greatest challenge when working on an iconic project is acknowledging in a clear-eyed way the reality of the project outside of the public’s imagination. For Trammell Crow Center, our goal is to celebrate strengths reflective of the property’s legacy — material quality, scale of spaces, and generous site. We then design a project to provide new aspects to take the project into the future such as a better front door, indoor-to-outdoor connectivity, and site boundaries linking the building to the activity of its surroundings.

 

HKS: Trammell Crow Center is a distinctive building on the Dallas skyline. It represents the strength of Dallas in a bold, classical shape that draws on its setting to define its materiality. As part of the Dallas Arts District, 2000 Ross helps define Trammell Crow Center’s plaza with a complementary, pure, and rhythmic façade.

 

 

MEETING INCREASED DEMAND FOR WORK ENVIRONMENTS

 

How has office building design changed, if at all?

 

HOK: Office properties now have to meet the expanded demands for renter use. As the definitions around optimal work environments diversify, renters rely on the landlords to provide amenities that support alternative work strategies. Premier properties also provide connectivity to exterior spaces including on- and off-site retail, exercise, and meeting locations.

 

 

 

THE SERENDIPITY OF PARALLEL USES

 

“In a singular-use building such as an office building, the space must be designed to account for a certain window of time, such as 9 to 5. However, a mixed-use building operates all parts of the day — office tenants, restaurant patrons, hotel guests, and residents co-mingle day and night.” — HKS Inc.

 

 

What considerations need to be made when designing a mixed-use space?


HOK: Companies have to optimize the scope of mixed-use projects to support the primary project drivers, including competitive rent, ease of access, and safety for renters, while allowing for the serendipity of parallel uses. These uses make those renters feel connected and energized by their surroundings. As we extend the hours of use and types of users, we must make sure that additional needs are incorporated into the project in ways not detrimental to the whole development.

 

HKS: In a singular-use building such as an office building, the space must be designed to account for a certain window of time, such as 9 to 5. However, a mixed-use building operates all parts of the day — office tenants, restaurant patrons, hotel guests, and residents co-mingle day and night. This combination of functions provides an exciting tension, and it is critical to find a balance between security and function while leveraging the complementary activities.

 

 

 

UNDERSTANDING THE SPIRIT OF THE PROJECT

 

“To paraphrase Michelangelo, ‘Each building has something inside it, our job is to discover it.’” — HOK

 

How does your design approach differ when adding to, or upgrading, an existing building?

 

HOK: Repositioning projects are usually challenging in several aspects. First and foremost, we attempt to find an understanding of the heart or spirit of the project. What does its image project? How is that image received or perceived? What do we see as the potential? To paraphrase Michelangelo, ‘Each building has something inside it, our job is to discover it.’ We have to deliver on the promise of those concepts while aligning to the owner’s expectations, budget, and schedule. To that end, we are attentive to how we investigate the existing structure, as these projects can present unforeseen or undocumented conditions that impact final design delivery.

 

On Trammell Crow Center, sticking to a construction schedule is crucial to avoid disruptions to current tenant operations. The success of the owner’s marketing efforts also added to the complexity by attracting new tenants who are moving in during construction.

 

 

 

A NEW URBAN SPACE

 

How do you take into account a neighborhood’s space when designing?

 

HOK: For Trammell Crow Center, the potential for transforming a closed garden to an open, connected urban site was of paramount importance. We look to the potential of our neighbors to provide inspiration and companion uses that enrich the whole of the area. The museum’s greenspace, the vitality of the Crow museum and adjacent Arts District, the existing commercial spaces and those to come in 2000 Ross, all influenced our thinking.

 

HKS: We look at two primary aspects of a neighborhood, program and architecture. Programmatically, architects view adjacent activities that can inform the planning of spaces within our site. For example, architects leverage retail to take advantage of strong foot-traffic patterns, and transportation activity informs ingress and egress locations, whether it’s pedestrian or vehicular. Architecturally, we look at the spirit of a place, and that spirit is defined by the spaces, shapes, and materials that define its context.

 

 

 

EMBRACING INTERNATIONAL QUALITIES OF THE DISTRICT’S ARCHITECTURE

 

“We wanted to keep the spirit of the arts by celebrating the simplicity, purity, and timelessness that is representative of the district’s art and architecture.” — HKS Inc.

 

 

What were some of your inspirations on this project?

 

HOK: We took inspiration from the idea of inverting the inward-looking organization that kept the site closed to the city. Our goal was to replicate the high level of quality and craft apparent throughout the site and its interior. We then aimed to selectively reveal the transformation by providing new places to interact within the site and lobby. This inspiration is resolved in the large urban window to the city, site boundaries that blur seamlessly into the surrounding sidewalk, inviting greenery and shade, and places for activities from morning to evening.

 

HKS: Given that the Dallas Arts District is expanding its boundaries to include the 2000 Ross site, we wanted to keep the spirit of the arts by celebrating the simplicity, purity, and timelessness that is representative of the district’s art and architecture. HKS embraced the international qualities of the district’s architecture by designing a building with a limited palette of glass, metal, and concrete to highlight this purity and simplicity.

 

Lastly, Ross Avenue provided inspiration, as it is positioned to become a popular destination in the city. Developments along the avenue will provide an enjoyable street experience while improving its sense of place.

 

 

 

DESIGNING FOR A NEW GENERATION OF TENANTS

 

“Creating a unique façade that is appropriate for a dense urban area while respecting the client’s proforma was challenging.” — HKS Inc.

 

What was your greatest design challenge for this project?

 

HOK: Our greatest challenge for Trammell Crow Center was simply to provide a design with aspirations matching the significance of the project. For the Dallas real estate community, this grand dame was fondly remembered but had become overshadowed by newer properties. The unique material character and high polish of the original had to be reimagined for a new generation of tennants. We had to bringing new uses and deal with new demands on the property.

 

Through it all, we were keenly aware that Trammell Crow Center had more than enough to be competitive, and our job, again, was simply to reveal it. We believe our refresh makes it a worthy partner to the 2000 Ross development across the street in creating a truly vibrant day-night urban environment.

 

HKS: Creating a unique façade that is appropriate for a dense urban area while respecting the client’s proforma was challenging. However, HKS is very astute at addressing budget limitations while at the same time targeting a design focus that produces an innovative building. In the case of 2000 Ross, we believe the simple gesture of inclining translucent glass panes and introducing lighting goes a long way to achieving this goal.

 

 

 

A COHESIVE URBAN CONTEXT

 

“Dallas is a relatively young city with space for architects and developers to come together and envision how density achieves a higher order of enhancement that addresses the buildings, but also the parks, plazas, and the connectivity that enriches our downtown environment.” — HKS Inc.

 

With rapid growth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and particularly downtown, what’s the most important thing architects should consider when designing for incoming projects?

 

HOK: For incoming projects in our Central Business District, we need to remain mindful about thinking synergistically. Many of the legacy generation of properties in our CBD are being refreshed, and we should continue examining how those properties can again contribute to our urban context. Weaving these together — with new infill developments like 2000 Ross — into a cohesive, dense, active, walkable, urban core is a tremendous value-creation task for our real estate community.

 

HKS: We think architects should maximize opportunity with the buildings we design. As with any project, designing to meet the client’s needs is critical. The challenges as presented in a dense urban environment, such as downtown Dallas, provide an incentive to design buildings that enhance the public realm. Dallas is a relatively young city with space for architects and developers to come together and envision how density achieves a higher order of enhancement that addresses the buildings, but also the parks, plazas and the connectivity that enriches our downtown environment.

 

 

 

A NEW VIBRANT CORRIDOR FOR DOWNTOWN DALLAS

 

“ Working with a great design and construction team to guide an aging, unfriendly block and surface parking lot through a transformation into a new vibrant corridor for Downtown Dallas has been tremendous.”

 

 

What do you consider to be the most exciting aspects of Trammell Crow Center and 2000 Ross’ design?


HOK: The most exciting aspect for us is seeing two projects, emerging from a single visionary ownership and management team, now fulfilling the promise outlined above. Working with a great design and construction team to guide an aging, unfriendly block and surface parking lot through a transformation into a new vibrant corridor for downtown Dallas has been tremendous.

 

HKS: The most exciting aspect of the design is that it is simple, yet dynamic. From a simple façade module, the building will “change” at various times of the day and night. The sunlight will bounce off the fins of the façade and create varying lengths of shadows throughout the day. The graduated ceramic frit reflects and absorbs sunlight in varying degrees, and the evening lighting is an elegant “quiet” that complements the energy of the ground-floor restaurants. These things are the most exciting aspect of the design. 

 

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve Stream Realty on this project. It is a great project and we look forward to the next phase!

 

 

 

ABOUT THE ARCHITECTS

 

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering, and planning firm. Through a network of 24 offices worldwide, HOK provides design excellence and innovation to create places that enrich people’s lives and help clients succeed. DesignIntelligence consistently ranks HOK as a leader in sustainable, high-performance design and technology innovation. Engineering News Record‘s 2015 Top 500 Design Firms survey ranked HOK the #1 U.S. architecture/engineering firm.

 

With current projects in 75 countries, HOK has designed some of the world’s most important urban plans, buildings, and interior environments. Current and recent projects include the 80-story Capital Market Authority Tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the Porsche Cars North America Experience Center and Headquarters in Atlanta; the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) in Anaheim, California; Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta; the Francis Crick Institute in London; and the 74-story Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

 

HKS Hospitality Group specializes in the design of sophisticated urban hotels, unique destination resorts, and luxurious spas, entertainment, gaming, and convention hotels, boutique properties, hospitality interiors, and world-class golf facilities. With construction underway on five continents, HKS hospitality practice is ranked as one of the top in the nation and the world, according to BD World Architecture, Hotel Business, and Hotel Design. Operating from 24 offices worldwide, the firm has designed projects in 45 countries, garnering numerous awards and coverage in national and international publications.

 

 

LEARN MORE

To learn more about the renovations at Trammell Crow Center and what’s to come, click here to download our e-brochure.