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Architect of Bass Hall and AAC Designing New Las Vegas Arts Center

by Jerome Weeks 21 Jul 2011 2:48 PM

It’s called the Smith Center, another multi-million-dollar, “world-class” performing arts complex, and the architect behind it is David M. Schwarz, whose retro red-brick-and-columns work should be very familiar to North Texans. In fact, the Smith Center seems to echo a particular Forth Worth complex.


It’s called the Smith Center, another “world-class” performing arts complex with a 2,050-seat main hall, a 300-seat cabaret theater and a 200-seat studio theater. The architect whose work is very familiar to North Texans is the DC-based David M. Schwarz. In addition to shaping Fort Worth’s Bass Hall and the American Airlines Center, Schwarz’s firm designed both the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and the Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.

In short, he’s a master of the consoling, nostalgic, retro and hulking. His buildings often have a Beaux Arts solidity and monumentality (columns, huge arched windows — all the neo-classic references for an Important Civic Structure)  but without much rococo filigree. Instead there’s an industrial-deco finish combined with a kind of Restoration Hardware touch in the details of  fences, lighting and other fixtures, details that say “good, old-fashioned (but mass-produced) craftsmanship.”

I actually kind of like the AAC because its squat, red-brick exterior provides some contrast to the rest of downtown Dallas’ aspiring, vertical, steel-blue shine — which  seems to be the point as well with the Smith Center in its Vegas context (“the facility is being built to look as if it has been a part of the city’s history for many years,” says the Smith’s Myron Martin ). But I’m fully aware that the AAC is the centerpiece for the wretched Victory Park development, which is often about as urban-life-enhancing as a gleaming gravestone.

At any rate, the Smith Center should certainly look familiar to North Texans. It seems to draw from the same rule book as the ‘cowtown moderne’ of the Will Rogers Coliseum and Pioneer Tower.

  • Is it just me, or does all his stuff kinda look the same?