Housed in a Dallas Power & Light substation building (1926), this non-profit organization invites artists to respond to the raw character of the industrial architecture, offering an alternative to the traditional gallery and museum contexts. An urban garden springs to life within the walls of the compound, and the exterior street frontage provides a unique urban experience for pedestrians travelling by on their way to a nearby hike and bike trail. Along the eastern flank, a cast in place concrete wall reinforces the edge while creating a minimal room as an extension of the interior space. An intense collaboration with artist Jacob Kassay resulted in an elegant sculptural intervention inside this space.
Complementing historic industrial architectural details, the garden design incorporates a restrained materials palette: crushed aggregate, stone rip rap, concrete, steel, and native plantings. The site was healed with native and adapted plant materials, and areas were strategically left un-irrigated for a low-water-use approach to site water management. An unused, remnant concrete shaft is planted with iris, sedges, and horsetail reed as a sunken rain garden, collecting runoff from the adjacent stair tower. The rebar “stitches” within create an interesting contrast of old versus new. This is one of several minimal interventions that allow for increased permeability and absorption of rainwater runoff into the site. A matrix of vine species advance up the chain link green screen of the stair tower. Much of the existing concrete pavement was retained by means of saw cutting and core drilling in a grid pattern, creating holes for landscape interventions and increased permeability. The core drills are repurposed at the entry, becoming an element of creative reclamation and reuse. A colony of spineless prickly pear consume the south and east side of the site, providing a strong graphic texture along the street frontage.