Artistic Rebirth: The Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos Triumph at the Dallas Museum of Art Design Contest

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In a captivating testament to their innovative design prowess, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (NSA), a Madrid-based architectural firm, has emerged victorious in the international competition aimed at reimagining the Dallas Museum of Art.

The contest, which attracted 154 entries globally, ended with a declaration of NSA’s triumph by the Museum’s Architect Selection Committee (ASC). Following a six-month run, the decision was endorsed by the Dallas Museum of Art Board of Trustees. Among the contenders were esteemed architectural teams from the U.S. and across the globe.

Renowned for their imaginative facades, such as those of the Contemporary Art Centre in Córdoba and the Montblanc Haus in Hamburg, the Spanish duo, Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano, lead the triumphant team. Their impressive portfolio boasts accolades such as the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Hannes Meyer Prize, the Alvar Aalto Medal, and the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts granted by the Spanish Government.

The winning proposal, as described by NSA, is a ‘reflection of the original building,’ with a novel approach to blend art, landscape, and community. The redesign aims to strike a balance between preserving the essence of the existing architecture and integrating fresh elements.

The NSA proposal maintains the 1984 building’s design ethos created by Edward Larrabee Barnes while introducing unique elements. A floating contemporary art gallery is planned for the roof, and modifications to the north and south facades aim to present art through an exterior LED-generated artwork veiled by a perforated surface. The inclusion of transparent glazing on the north façade and Harwood Street facades will give passers-by a glimpse into the bustling life inside the museum.

The Museum’s vision aligns with its 2021 Five Year Strategic Plan, which emphasizes serving the diverse Dallas community and cultivating an inviting environment for all cultures.

Gowri N. Sharma, the President of the DMA’s Board of Trustees, and Jeffrey S. Ellerman, the Board Chairman, conveyed their warm congratulations to NSA. They lauded NSA’s design as a harmonious blend of dynamic, sustainable design strategies that respect the original intent while modernizing the Museum for the 21st century.

Jennifer Eagle and Lucilo Peña, Architect Selection Committee Co-Chairs, expressed their excitement about the NSA’s first project in the U.S. They appreciated the winning team’s active engagement during the competition workshops and visits and expressed their admiration for the five runner-up design teams’ creativity and commitment.

Malcolm Reading, the Competition Director, commended NSA’s concept for conserving the original building’s integrity while creating a new identity with its openness. He highlighted the proposal’s environmental benefits, such as reducing environmental impacts and optimizing energy use.

The winning design encapsulates a balance between preserving the existing structure and introducing novel elements. These include enhancing interior lighting, improving accessibility, and fostering visual connections throughout the building. Furthermore, the concept acknowledges the need for expanded gallery space with a floating square extension on the roof, an event space, and a restaurant.

Sustainability is at the heart of the redesign, with plans to retain the original building’s embodied carbon by limiting changes to the existing structure. Additional measures include rainfall collection, bioclimatic design, and electricity generation through photovoltaics and geothermal energy. NSA’s design strives to reflect Barnes’ spatial hierarchy and grid arrangement, embracing nature, and encouraging transparency and street engagement at the ground level.

As Dallas-Fort Worth continues to flourish, the DMA is closer to the day when they can unveil their reimagined building, showcasing the most significant collection of contemporary art, and solidifying their mantra: “art is at the center, and equity and community are at the core of all we do.”

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