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The Kimbell is a treasure and deserves better.

For a few more months at least, Fort Worth will offer what very few other cities on the planet can: a trifecta and a half of world-class buildings within walking distance of one another. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Kimbell Art Museum and its attendant Piano Pavilion, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, all designed by Pritzker-winning architects, all open to the public 360-something days a year. Now right across the street from all 3.5 in the Cultural District will come a 170-room hotel designed by the committee affiliated with Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, and Sleep Inn. The graceful, nearly spiritual harmony in which the Carter, Kimbell, pavilion, and Modern sit will be forever despoiled. This is a big deal.

Fueled by the forthcoming nearby multipurpose arena that no one other than the Bass family and stock show honchos care about, Heart of America’s hotel will stand 10 stories high, casting mostly the Kimbell in shadow. Architectural pilgrimages still will be made — Louis I. Kahn’s building is in a high-modernist category all its own. Art lovers and architecture students will continue studying and admiring it for centuries to come. Considering Heart of America can’t go out and hire Rem Koolhaas, Bjarke Ingels, or some other starchitect and that the Illinois-based hotelier has dabbled in contemporary design (Hotel Renovo, Wildwood Lodge), less will be more. Much more. You can’t compete with the Carter, Kimbell, pavilion, or Modern. Don’t try (“Need and Desire,” March 15).

I’d like to say, “Well, what did you expect in a political backwater like Fort Worth?” But inappropriate buildings pop up everywhere, every day, even in allegedly hip, world-class cosmopolises like Boston, Seattle, and Brooklyn. I just hope that when the Fort Worth City Council takes up the matter next week, people who know better will open their mouths.

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When the project was first proposed a few months ago, lots of Cultural District movers and shakers were quick with the spleen-o-grams. The hotel, said Kimbell Director Eric Lee, would appear to be “looming” over his patrons and negatively affect the “serene space” of the Kimbell’s courtyard specifically.

Now that Heart of America has redrawn its plans to accommodate the complaints –– too tall, too many rooms, too big overall — the movers/shakers have grown quiet. “Numerous other local architects and representatives from cultural organizations declined to discuss the project on the record,” says a recent Star-Telegram story.

Is Ed Bass that big of a bully?

Fort Worth’s annual stock show and rodeo generates a lot of money, undoubtedly. Maybe giving shelter to all of those Weatherfordians and Burlesonians and Cleburneans and other exurbanites who make the trip to the big city every January/February to ride the rides and see the sights will “trickle down” to the immediate economy. But looking at development in economic terms only — especially as it relates to the intangible nature of art and architecture –– is how an unhinged manchild becomes president of the United States. Art is civilizing. Respecting it isn’t just humane. It’s financially rewarding. Would anyone in 1936 have expected us to be having this conversation after Kay and Velma Kimbell created their art foundation? Go home with the date who brought you, Fort Worth. 

17 COMMENTS

  1. Even though I completely agree with you on the erecting a hotel in this area would totally distract from the feel and esthetics of the art area, your article is condecending and reveals a lack of understanding and respect of what ” cowtown” really encompasses. Ft. Worth is not just for newcomers or art lovers. There is much history of what you refer as “exurbanites” making their yearly pilgramiage to the big city, as though those people don’t drive to Cowtown MANY times a month, and do enjoy art, as well as many other things the city provides. Though your purpose of the article is to enlighten people of the upcoming atrocity of the hotel, which I applaud,, it is not necessary to reach into an area you obviously have no understanding, and insult with your narrow comments.

  2. I’ve lived in Fort Worth since the ’70’s. I’ve watched the arts culture grow and my family has financially support a lot of it; I’m currently a co-founder of a thriving glass arts school here. I live in Fort Worth and drive to Weatherford every day. I would consider myself quite balanced in the arts and the “cowboy culture”, which is what I believe Fort Worth stands for. Your shallow comments prove that the definition of idiot has gone to a higher level. Journalism is not your thing.

  3. Certainly puts the kibosh on a Nasher style sculpture center or expansion of the immediate footprint with other museums, and with Dallas ever expanding their offerings, I am still amazed that they wouldn’t raze the historically significant Whataburger and Taco Bell by I-30 and put it there, but Charlie Geren would object to the proximity to Railhead BBQ, and we can’t have that.

    There are a lot of tiny asbestos laden homes in that area though, and you could build a hotel to serve the arena. The one where Dos Gringos was formerly located was shot down as it would obstruct the view from the Amon Carter like a giant middle finger, which is a fair point.

    A boutique 75 room hotel as part of a 5 story mixed-used project was always in the cards and I think people were OK with that, but people not familiar with these projects forget a lot of things…down to the details of the impact of a structure that large on infrastructure. If you work or study at UNT, Rivercrest or Westover, that structure will kill your cell phone, antenna or internet signal if you are using point-to-point bandwidth beamed into your business, as it is much taller than any of the repeater towers, and that will create a shadowline on the horizon for signal all the way out 199 from downtown/Midlothian at a different angle, so good luck with that being resolved…AT&T cell already doesn’t work from W 7th all the way back into Rivercrest in about 30% of the residential area. The septic system is overloaded in the area, as are the storm drains. It is a lot to consider.

    With the new structure going up and UNTHSC and campus police unwilling to enforce parking against their subcontractors, it is already a nightmare and will be during construction no matter what or where it is, but if you live in the immediate area (the Marq, Museum Place One), there will be unannounced concrete pours at 3 am per their usual practice, lots of dumpsters. Now, a hotel is a good idea, a small one, with retail. But if they want a Hyatt with roof pool parties and their staff chain smoking outside, it needs to be closer to the arena and I-30. The limestone facade is a nice upgrade, that is definitely a good thing.

    The reason that these need to be public, is because the people making these decisions are paid by the public and it appears that after some grousing this is going to happen, which is a very good thing for Fort Worth. Whether they factor in any of it, at least the plebes get a say. That is a welcome and positive change in how business is handled.

    Now, economic advancement is a good thing. Don’t think that I am not for a hotel…it just needs proper vetting. After lunch I can’t walk to the non-existent restaurants that were promised on the ground floor of the most recent UNTHSC building, which was promised when those restaurants were demolished in the name of progress, right past all of the telephone poles on the adjacent properties that were also promised to be removed when those contractors signed agreements to use neighboring properties for construction that they defaulted on. Who is going to sue the State over their failure to keep promises to the City? Exactly. It is just a case study in not doing what was promised. So, everyone should have their eyes wide open because a lot of recent “as promised” projects have ended up missing a lot of key ingredients, and that is a shame, because lies and failures to keep your end of the bargain create the distrust that requires public meetings. I miss the Kimbell Lawn, don’t you?

    Developers build walls that flood houses all the time, it just happens. All of you who have a compressor station in your backyard need to think about the law of unintended consequences before making a declarative statement about someone else’s neighborhood. It might be great. It might be awful. It might be “meh”. We don’t want “meh”. Again, if you want to build “whatever” then build it next to I-30, 1600 rooms, dancing fountains and a helipad.

    If you think traffic on Camp Bowie (which allows parking on the N side as it is) is lovely at lunchtime, a constant stream of valet parking attendants backing things up like the OMNI does on Commerce downtown, is also a consideration.

    There is a public meeting on next Tuesday’s City Council Agenda and citizen comments are welcome. Call (817) 392-6101 for information.

  4. The hotel looks great. The renderings are very attractive, and it will be a wonderful addition to the area. I live a few blocks away and can’t wait for it to be built. I guess you think the empty field surrounded by orange fencing is a much better look? Please…

    • I don’t live on a major street, so that wouldn’t make any sense. This is proposed in a commercial area surrounded by other businesses. Across the street from a major mixed use development (Museum Place) and adjacent to public museums, not houses. Very idiotic comparison. If I lived on a major street I would not mind having a hotel built next to me. It comes with the territory.

  5. The title of this article is totally the opposite of every emotion I have about this project.

    I want to write and article and call it “The Hotel that Does Make Sense”

    I am so sick of the argument that the hotel is a distraction and will ruin the aesthetic of the Kimball. What is it going to ruin?… Is it somehow detracting from the 2 vacant lots across the street or maybe from the abandoned building with over grown grass and bushes next to the lots. Myself and several other native Fort Worthians and Fort Worth backers are totally for this hotel to happen.

    I think the current proposal is classy and uncontrived and it totally fits in with the feel of the Cultural district and alongside the museums. I walk in the area several times a week and I stop at the spot where the hotel will come into view and I think it will add a nice touch to the area and provide a wonderful backdrop for the Kimball from the south facing side. It won’t even be noticeable from the other perspectives so it bewildering to me why there has been such a huge fuss over it.

    Furthermore, I don’t recall any pushback on any of the UNTHSC buildings that are across the street from the museums as well and they are a similar height because they are further up the slope on Camp Bowie towards Montgomery. Progress needs to happen for a city to evolve and Fort Worth is in the middle of a progressive movement and I feel like we’re in the midst of becoming a truly progressive city. Quit trying to fight it and let it happen.

  6. The author writes the proposed hotel “will stand 10 stories high, casting mostly the Kimbell in shadow.”

    Last time I checked the proposed site is North of the Kimbell. I’ve read this shadow complain elsewhere and think these critics need to better understand how shadows work. The sun will rise in the east and cast a westward shadow. The sun mostly travels along the southern side of a building and casts a shadow in the northerly direction, and finally sets in the west throwing shadow onto the eastern side of a building.

    Heck, look at a google maps satellite view and you’ll see all the buildings throwing shadows to the north. So simply, unless the heavens realign this hotel cannot cast a physical shadow onto the Kimbell.

    It “could” be a potential eyesore, but it wouldn’t cast a shadow.

    • While the author is off base about the Kimbell being in the literal “shadow” of the Hotel, I do think there is some concern that putting a solid plane of glass (I’ve seen it described as some high-tech transition glass) on facade facing the kimbell could cause some unforseen reflectance issues. Since the building is angled along Camp Bowie, it’s perfectly angled to reflect any morning and afternoon sun right to the Kimbell.

      We don’t need a repeat of the issue happening at the Nasher after a developer built and architect designed too tall of a fully glazed building adjacent to the museum.

    • You’re quite right, the proposed hotel wouldn’t cast a literal shadow on the Kimbell. The hotel would, however be visible from the interior courtyard above the roof line.

  7. There was a lot of pushback on the UNT buildings. It went on for months and included picketing..do your research please. You have spelled Kimbell incorrectly so you know it well, and the last line of your post sound like words spoken to a rape victim…we just want to avoid that fate for our fine City. There will be no further contiguous expansion of the Museum Campus once this is erected.

  8. A small Ashton type hotel is not a terrible idea…but further expansion of a contiguous museum campus will no longer be possible. Also, it is spelled Kimbell, and that last line of your post sounds frighteningly like a line from an SVU architectural rape episode. Finally, the UNT building was protested long and hard and picketed, and as was alluded above, in another bloggers post, not all promises were kept. You realize that many citied, including Washington, DC have height limitations in areas, like around the Mall.

    • So I assume you were commenting about the misspelling of the Kimbell from my previous post but that is how it was spelled through voice recognition. I apologize if that somehow damaged your fragile sensibilities. It’s sad when someone tries to win an argument and delegitimize a comment by calling out of a few typos.

      Oh btw, could you clarify what your post means when you said “You realize that many CITIED, including Washington DC… etc..”? That makes no sense. What does “citied” mean? Oh I guess that is a typo so your entire post and viewpoint is null and void.

      Furthermore, please stop referring to the last line of my comment as coming from a rapist being directed at his victim. I am not a rapist and if you think comparing the building of a hotel to someone being raped then you need a few lessons in mannerism and compassion.

      Finally, a contiguous museum campus is/was never on the drawing board especially north of Camp Bowie. That may be something you want, but are the city and residents of Fort Worth supposed to sit back for decades with a prized vacant lot on one of their major throughfares on someone’s wishes and hopes for a contiguous museum campus? As a lifelong FW resident I would disagree. There are plenty of parking lots around WRMC and south of Camp Bowie that can be used if that eventually happens. In my personal opinion I think FW has all the museums that it can possibly support. More could be possible in the future if more residents and hotel visitors were in the areato help support any new or additional museums.
      Hmmm…. I wonder what would make that possible?

  9. We seem to have on ongoing problem about short-term memories around here. Lest everyone forgets – it was one of the museum family members who razed the 7th Street Theater on a weekend sans demo permits from the City of Fort Worth OR agreement with the always come to the table at the end with no money/alternative offers/realistic buyers for a property, just demands, Hysterical Society. (Yes, I did change up the spelling on Historical.) Once the damage was done and she had her way with the city, life went on. There are already plenty of tall buildings in the general area. If the museum folks are whining about the hotel, I would call it karma.

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