Reinterpreting 1960s Urbanism; Case 1: Tandy Center, Fort Worth, Texas

This studio, kindly sponsored by the PNL Companies of Dallas, Texas, will deal with a recurrent and endemic North American urban design problem: an important sector of downtown Fort Worth (about six city blocks), under single ownership, was demolished mid-century, reconceived in the 1960s and rebuilt in the early 70s as a set of four major buildings.Named the Tandy Center, it consists of two towers – nineteen stories tall – resting on a three-story parking lot and mall base with a large stepped horizontal block building – a hotel – that widely (and mega-structurally) bridges the city streets. The resulting quality of the urbanity generated by this complex has, for years, been very poor. Recent changes in ownership, economic and cultural changes in downtown Fort Worth (the conviction that it is finally okay to live and work there) necessitate a complete rethinking of this urbanism and a major redesign of its products. This is the pedagogic objective of this elective studio, with the scale of intervention fluctuating between urban design and architecture.So, what is one to do to induce a contemporary urban life of rich quality there (while of course attending to the market too)? Bodily transformative operations are indeed a must: removals and implants – both skin and organs, deep and superficial – tightening, pulling, lifting and tattooing (branding?), evisceration, grafting and reengendering, etc. are some among many metaphors that can be used to describe the array of things to do (strategies for the site), not to mention what could be done \”outside the body,\” that is to say, in adjacent available parcels, or in surrounding streets.More importantly, in a city such as Fort Worth, where the building of urban kitsch seems to be the preferred alternative in the \”revitalization\” of its downtown, could a kind of radical programming and an architectural \”silence\” in the hands of a designer with an uninhibited subjectivity and interested in urban beauty be an alternative? That shall be explored.Note: Students should expect to visit the site, courtesy of our sponsor, during October 3-6. We will meet with PNL\’s leadership, city planning officials, tenants, etc.