World-class architects unveil Nasher Sculpture Garden design | KERA News

World-class architects unveil Nasher Sculpture Garden design

Dallas, TX – Sam Baker, KERA 90.1 Morning Edition host: Plans for the new Nasher Sculpture Garden and Center have been unveiled by award-winning landscape designer Peter Walker and architect Renzo Piano. 90.1's Bill Zeeble has more on the art space in downtown Dallas.

Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 Reporter: Some of the globe's premiere cities vied for the chance to build the sculpture garden for Ray Nasher's world-class collection. But for years, the real estate developer, who started collecting art half a century ago with his late wife Patsy, talked of revitalizing Dallas's downtown arts district. Now, he says, this project, with works by masters Miro, de Kooning, Henry Moore, and others, may be the catalyst.

Ray Nasher, art collector: And make it a cultural place that no other city in the world has. London, Paris, New York, etc. won't have this ability to have a modern contemporary sculpture collection and both indoor and outdoor, as in Dallas. So you'll have to come to Dallas to see it.

Zeeble: After announcing his gift to Dallas three years ago, and that he'd pay for the project, he set about finding the right designers to create it, with this direction in mind.

Nasher: To create a sculpture garden both indoor and outdoor, which had a transitional approach where basically it's integrated, and the ability to have both exhibitions of pieces that only could be indoors and had a relationship to the outdoor sculpture.

Zeeble: Italian-born architect Renzo Piano has been called a genius by Nasher. The Pompidou cultural center in Paris and Houston's Menil collection museum are just two of Piano's projects. The architect took Nasher's request and incorporated some of his own, including a way to bring calm into what he termed the "mess" of all big cities.

Renzo Piano, architect: The idea to steal this piece of land from the normal destiny, being there, downtown, to be built, to become a place for another skyscraper. I thought that was a great idea. So the idea of sitting, the place for serenity right in middle of the city, was an important part of the idea.

Zeeble: The design includes not just a pleasant outdoor area of trees, water, places to sit, and a stone walkway that invites viewers to wander away from it. The entrance off Flora, the street that runs between the Dallas Museum of Art and the Meyerson Symphony Center, allows visitors to see straight through the air-conditioned entrance building of six parallel travertine stone walls and glass roof, to the end of the sloping, descending garden itself. Like Renzo Piano, Harvard- trained landscape architect Peter Walker, the other part of the design team, applied Nasher's direction and some of his own ideas. He wants the enclosed building to invite the viewer outside and downstairs into the garden.

Peter Walker, landscape architect: So everything slips. There's no plane that runs across the site that stops your eye at any point. As you come down the stairs, much of the lower area of the garden disappears, and you have to go down there to see it, to see the sculpture and garden itself. People would be able to hunt and look for things as the adventure of that unfolds.

Zeeble: Walker, Piano and Nasher say some large sculptures will remain permanently, but others will change like the seasons, like something blossoming and new. Even recent purchases, like a new Gabo sculpture, will end up here, also on a rotating basis. Nasher expects the place to be so appealing he'll end up in the garden almost every day.

Nasher: Because it hopefully will be exciting, you want to see it grow; and of course we're going to be working here in a relationship to seminars, lectures. So it'll be a very stimulating place.

Zeeble: And it's expected to be ready by 2002. For KERA 90.1, I'm Bill Zeeble.