The Open-Ended City
David Dillon on Texas Architecture
University of Texas Press 2019
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in ArchitectureNew Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in the American SouthNew Books Network December 2, 2019 Nathan Bierma
It may only be a slight exaggeration to say that one of David Dillon’s career accomplishments was to put the words “Dallas” and “architecture” in the same sentence again. After a screed in 1980 entitled “Why Is Dallas Architecture So Bad?” launched his career as an architecture critic, Dillon took to the pages of the Dallas Morning News to praise, lament, explain, beg, scold, suggest, cajole, and influence how Dallas and its metropolitan region took shape throughout three revolutionary decades of development. To follow his career as a critic from the early 1980s, when downtown was dormant and street life an afterthought, to his retirement–when a new mindset for urban planning had largely set in, but still had far to go–is to listen to a larger story about how thinking about the built environment in North American cities has changed over the last generation, the new questions that have been raised, and the old ones that persist.
Some of Dillon’s most memorable and enduring columns were recently published by University of Texas Press in a collection called The Open-Ended City: David Dillon on Texas Architecture, part of a series furnished by the Roger Fullington Endowment in Architecture. The book is edited and introduced by Kathryn Holliday, associate professor of architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she is also the founding director of the David Dillon Center for Texas Architecture.
Holliday is the author of Leopold Eidlitz: Architecture and Idealism in the Gilded Age (W. W. Norton & Company, 2008) and Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century (Rizzoli, 2012).
David Dillon was the nationally acclaimed architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News, where his work received awards from the Associated Press, the Dallas Press Club, and the Texas Society of Architects.
Nathan Bierma is a writer, instructional designer, and voiceover talent in Grand Rapids, Michigan.