Fate of DISD Headquarters – What could we do differently?

Dallas irrefutably has been transforming into one the world’s largest cities, and it continues to grow rapidly. The development dynamics surrounding Bryan Place is perhaps one the most tangible examples of that transformation, where higher density,
public transit, and economic opportunities have diversified the demographics. Unfortunately, if not carefully managed in a fast developing city, destruction of public amenities, vital green spaces, and historic sites can become an easy solution used by
apathetic developers in competing for scarcity of land and resources.

DISD HQ building beside being beautiful architecturally, is a prime landmark in the city. The DISD Board of Trustees has applied for a demolition permit from City Hall on behalf of the developer. This can ultimately result in the vanishing of this great structure and its histories forever. By no means do I disagree with gentrification of Ross avenue and rebuilding denser, newly improved communities within the region. However, a better, and broader approach needs to emerge in our zoning regulations.

A primary focus on how lawmakers, practitioners, and the public, together, rethink public amenities as valuable contributions to larger urban policy needs to be developed and integrated. The new objectives should focus on enriching public amenities and safeguarding socio-cultural heritage. Such an approach, in parallel to conventional economic policies, will intensify job opportunities, youth development, public health, and community growth, while sustaining historical sites and remarkable public structures.

Many great European cities, as well as the world’s famous tourist destinations, have made the list of “Must See Places” not because their policy makers tolerated demolishing of their history, architecture, public amenities and communal spaces. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The law makers as well as the public in those cities have habitually identified places of interest and invested not only in preserving them but also in cleverly repurposing such amenities. Yes, preservation is the key word we all understand and support to a degree, but preservation has not been fully embrace in American urban design. It is simply because ignoring preservation is easier, cheaper and faster; however this is only true in the short-term view!

Submitted by: Amir Safvat