School of Architecture Receives 2009 Best Places Award

The Dallas Urban Laboratory, an urban design workshop opened in spring 2007 by the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, has received one of the 2009 Great Places Awards, co-sponsored by PLACES journal and Metropolis magazine.

The awards recognize professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design. Seven projects were chosen for 2009 for their design, research and planning excellence.

The Dallas Urban Laboratory submission, "Vision 2030: West Dallas Gateway, Strategic Framework Initiative," focuses on the apex of two larger initiatives, the Trinity River Corridor and Forward Dallas! The initiatives will transform the area of the Trinity River between Dallas and Fort Worth into one of the largest urban parks in the United States, with an infrastructure designed to bring an urban dynamic to a region long synonymous with suburban sprawl.

"The Dallas Urban Laboratory provides an ideal service learning opportunity for students in architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning to harness their developing professional skills for the benefit of the City of Dallas," said Dean Almy, director of the Dallas Urban Laboratory.

"The work in West Dallas is the culmination of two years of working with both public and private interests in the city to harness the energy of the Trinity River Corridor Project and move Dallas to a more sustainable quality of life for its citizens."

The plan offers a vision for an area that has suffered from economic decline and underutilization. The area is directly across the Trinity River from the downtown core and its redevelopment could have a greater impact on the betterment of Dallas than that of any other location along the corridor. The plan illustrates how careful integration of programmatic density, landscape infrastructure and transit, along with public amenities such as new schools, could create a vibrant new inner-city residential district.

"This is a wonderful recognition of Dean Almy's initiative to provide design and planning visions through the School of Architecture's Dallas Urban Lab," said Fritz Steiner, dean of the School of Architecture. "We are delighted that we can tap the intelligence and talents of our students for the betterment of the citizens of Dallas."

Now in its 12th year, the Great Places Awards is distinguished by its interdisciplinary focus, its concern for human factors in the design of the built environment and its commitment to promoting links between design research and practice.

The six other winners of this year's awards are the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet (Oslo, Norway); the Wing Luke Asian Museum (Seattle); the Guangming Sustainable Park (Shenzen China); Resuscitating the Fez River: Procedures to Create New Public Space in the Medina of Fez (Takako Tajima, Aziza Chaouni); Design for Health (University of Minnesota, Cornell University and University of Colorado); Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field (author, Anne Whiston Spirn).

The lead designer for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet is Craig Dykers, an alumnus of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin.