Dallas Museum of Art Selects Architecture Firm to Redesign its Building

by Jessica Fuentes August 4, 2023

The Dallas Museum of Art has selected a team led by the Madrid-based firm Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (NSA) as the winner of its design competition. The firm will take the lead on reimagining the museum. 

A photograph of architects Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano.

Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano. Photography © Alvaro Felgueroso Lobo

In February, the museum launched an international competition to find a design team as part of its plan to renovate its facilities. In May, the DMA selected six finalists from over 150 submissions by firms from 27 countries. Last month, the museum revealed the concept designs by the six finalists.

The decision to move forward with NSA was made by the museum’s Architect Selection Committee, chaired by Jennifer Eagle and Lucilo Peña, president of Billingsley Development Company, and formalized by the DMA Board of Trustees yesterday, August 2.

In a press release announcing the decision, Gowri N. Sharma, President of the DMA’s Board of Trustees, and Jeffrey S. Ellerman, Chairman of the Board, said: “We warmly congratulate Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos. Their concept design mixes a poetic sensibility with a dynamic and sustainable design strategy that respects Larrabee’s original intentions, all the while preparing us to become a 21st-century museum.”

NSA was founded in 1985 by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano and has offices in Madrid and Berlin. They are known for their designs for the Contemporary Art Centre in Córdoba, and the Montblanc Haus in Hamburg. While the firm is known internationally, the redesign of the DMA will be NSA’s first building project in the United States. 

NSA has had works exhibited at the Biennale di Venezia, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and at the Kunsthaus in Graz. Their work has also been published in international magazines and books. Additionally, they have received a number of awards, including the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts by the Ministry of Culture of Spain in 2017, the Alvar Aalto Medal in 2015, and the European Museum of the Year Award and the Hannes Meyer Prize in 2012.

A layout of a concept design of the exterior of the Dallas Museum of Art, designed by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos.

Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos’ Dallas Museum of Art concept design

The team behind the winning design includes NSA, Atelier Culbert (Exhibition Design); SWA Group (Landscape Architect); Arup (MEP, Lighting, and Sustainability Engineer); Bollinger+Grohmann (Structural and Façade Engineer); and PGAL (Local Architect).

The description of their proposed design states: “Art inspires the beginning of the architectural project to reimagine the DMA. Claude Monet’s The Water Lily Pond (1903) poetically suggests the reversal of reality in the reflection of water; the lightness of air and clouds versus rootedness in earth and vegetation. Our proposal acknowledges the presence of the original building and its pivotal role in the development of the Dallas Arts District while proposing significant spatial architectural transformations respectful of its recent history.”

A layout of a concept design of the interior of the Dallas Museum of Art, designed by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos.

Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos’ Dallas Museum of Art concept design

They continue, “The reimagined DMA will be a reflection of the original building, transforming the relationship between art, landscape, and community into a balance of memory and innovation.”

A layout of a concept design of the exterior of the Dallas Museum of Art, designed by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos.

Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos’ Dallas Museum of Art concept design

When the DMA’s current building, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, opened in 1984, it was surrounded by empty lots and warehouses. Over the last four decades, the downtown area where the museum is situated has developed into the Arts District, which has grown to include the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Crow Museum of Asian Art, and the Green Family Art Foundation. The DMA has also expanded over the years, including a 1993 140,000-square-foot addition to the building, which was supported by major donations from patrons like Nancy Hamon, and a 2015 renovation of the museum’s entrances, funded by Jennifer and John Eagle.

Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director, remarked about the museum’s choice of NSA to redesign its building, saying, “Dallas-Fort Worth is changing by the minute: the metroplex’s success is such that it will soon be the third largest in the country. At the heart of one of the most exciting cities in America, the DMA is moving closer to the day when we can unveil a reimagined building, a new identity and, potentially, the most significant collection of contemporary art of any encyclopedic museum. We will be able to release our masterworks from storage and the Museum will shine out, fulfilling our mantra, art is at the center, and equity and community are at the core of all we do.”

The DMA has also announced a new Master Facilities Plan Task Force, chaired by Catherine Marcus Rose, a museum Trustee and former Board President, along with Architect Selection Committee co-chair Lucilo Peña. The new task force will hold its first meeting in September and will begin working with NSA.

The winning concept design is available to view at the DMA on the Mezzanine Level 2 (M2) through the fall.

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