Architect David Schwarz has been working in DC since 1976, but Beltway types (our publisher included) have figured out what a big deal David is here in DFW. And we always love it when our boss sees DFW for the sophisticated metropolitan area it really is (up to, and including, the mechanical bull-riding and Sonic Happy Hour drinks).
A couple of weeks ago, your publisher (Mark Bisnow) met with the man himself—at least his feet and footwear. David is famous for wearing flip flops, unless it's snowing or a client asks him not to. And it's easier to go through airport security—a good thing, since 90% of the firm's work is outside DC. You may know David's work here as the designer of much of the famed Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth's Sundance Square and The Ballpark in Arlington(where the AL champs play—we never get tired of saying that.) Now, David's designing new office buildings for Sundance Square.
We visited David and his 60-person office, where David pointed out that the most coveted honor is for your buildings to be selected for the cover of phone books. Originally from LA, he came to DC because he wanted to be on the East Coast after college and it was the only place where he could afford a house. He started out doing decks, kitchen additions, and row house renovations. Now the company does super-sophisticated projects in 20 states, although he still describes himself and colleagues as simply ?people who create places for people.? He says his classical college education at St. John's (where they make you read the Great Books) makes him feel like a good designer can design anything.
Here he is in his conference room planning a big book on concert halls, which they've done in Cleveland, Spartanburg, Nashville, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Charleston, and Fort Worth. On the sports side, they've done minor league, spring training, and stadiums including the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The firm's doing a $500M retail and entertainment complex in Las Vegas and even a ?six star? luxury hotel in St. Barts. What changed his firm from local to national was a happenstance connection to the Bass family, which led to a commission to design the facility for the newly merged Fort Worth Children's Hospital with Cook Children's Medical Center in 1985. The Texas Rangers president at the time visited the hospital to see his son, liked the environment he saw, and encouraged David to answer an RFP for a baseball stadium in 1991.
David says although there were 22 entrants to design the stadium, and he had to spend a great deal of money speculatively on the endeavor, he loves dealing with visionaries and felt he could tell what the president wanted after asking him just one question: What color do you think of when you think of baseball? Answer: ?sepia,? which indicated to David that the underlying object was a stadium incorporating elements of great old-fashioned venues, so he included a homerun porch a la Tigers Stadium, and colorful elements from Fenway, Ebbets, and Comiskey, among others. He won, although he hasn?t asked new owner Nolan Ryan whether he can still get free tickets.