Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why O Why?!?!...or Critique of the City-Owned Convention Center Hotel

I have been putting this one off for a while. I have been sitting on the pictures for near a month. Part of me just doesn't have the energy to once again illustrate why Dallas struggles with having a vibrant urban core. This building violates every solid urban design principle I know and I can't honestly think of one good thing to say about its urbanity. The only positive points are inside.

To that end, I will let the pictures talk for me.

The pedestrian sees only setbacks when they get to the northeast corner.

The big selling point for this hotel was that it was attached to the Dallas Convention Center. In reality, Dallas just got another skywalk/tunnel connection.

At the street level, below the tunnel. Despite the less inviting streetscape. Pedestrians still use this as much as that vaunted skywalk connection.

From the southeast corner, the setback is very clear. The ground-floor retail is not.

An illustration of one of the negative influences of setbacks. This pedestrian is trying to get from the sidewalk to the building. On the way he has to cross huge amounts of grass.

Looking south from the northeast corner.

Looking at the north side of the building, the only thing that is apparent is the valet drive up and the vast amounts of concrete for the driveway.

The east side of the building is nothing but service bays and garage. I have less of an issue with this because it is by the Jefferson Viaduct. Of all the ills, this is the least.

The valet drive dominates the north part of the property, isolating the pedestrian from the hotel.

View of the Lamar side from inside the hotel. No wonder there is little pedestrian activity in this part of downtown. What is there to walk to in this picture?

One of the few things I actually like about the hotel. They use Dallas landmarks and districts to name their conference rooms.

A friend of the family took these pictures. Another feature I like inside the hotel.

The view from inside looking northeast. Several blocks away, downtown begins.

More local pictures. Notice the pictures have no pedestrians. That is the photographers style, but in Dallas it isn't hard to find that shot.

In previous posts, I talked about the emptiness in Deep Ellum. The Omni backs that up.

These pictures are fairly recent. Main Street Gardens opened in 2009.

The view of the conference rooms on the third floor.

View from the north inside the hotel.

More Dallas landmarks.

Thanksgiving Square on the left, Old Red Courthouse on the right, the building where I got married.

Third floor connection to the Convention Center.

The main conference room is named after the city.

The third floor balcony. As usual the interior of a building in the urban core is more inviting than the exterior.

The view from the balcony looking southeast. Notice the univiting streetscape.

Same spot, looking northeast. The streetscape is still barren.

Half the rooms have this view inside. This was taken from the 22nd floor. Notice the large amounts of automobile infrastructure and low amount of urban anything.

From the same spot looking down, you can see the area where the conference rooms and garage are.

The view inside the other half of the rooms is better. Here you can see downtown, of which the most vibrant parts are several blocks away.

Despite being the most expensive hotel rooms in the city, I was amazed at how average they looked. The only "luxury" iten I know of is the bathroom mirror turns into a tv when the power is on.

A typical hallway view.

As noted in other posts, bland stairways with no meaningful connections limit their use. The Omni is no different.
I included pictures of the interior just to show the inside, though in reality, whatever is inside would have zero impact on its urban design features. I have made my objections known about the urban design, setbacks, no street furniture, empty greenspace (or is it brown), lack of pedestrian engagement, auto-dominated features, etc. In some ways, I have come to expect that from new buildings built by the private sector.

My biggest disappointment is that on the one hand, Dallas says it wants to make the urban area more inviting. They mention things that need to be done. Then on the other they produce this. They completely own this property. They could have done anything here. Even just a moving the builing east, bringing the east part of the building adjacent to Lamar St. would have made a big difference. In the end, the City that talks about revitalizing downtown, helped keep the status quo.

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