Revitalizing Downtown

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New hotel helps re-establish Dallas as premier convention destination

By Marcy Marro

All across America, cities have been trying to revitalize their down- town areas in a hope to draw more people and tourism to the area. Dallas is the most recent city to try and create a vibrant downtown entertainment district that will appeal to convention goers, leisure travelers and locals.

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The new Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel is located on 6 acres (2 hectares) of an 8-acre (3-hectare) site in downtown Dallas, with the remaining 2 acres (1 hectare) slated for dining, retail, office and other pedestrian amenities for both hotel guests and local residents. Scheduled to open in early 2012, the Omni Dallas Hotel connects via skybridge to the 2.1 million-square-foot (195,090-m2) Dallas Convention Center, and is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification from the Washington, D.C.- based U.S. Green Building Council.

"Rising 23 stories and containing 1,001 rooms, this hotel is the embodiment and symbol of Dallas' rise toward one of the nation's top convention destinations," said Jacob Tindall, partner at Dallas-based 5G Studio_Collaborative, the design architect.

Integrating Street and Structure

Situated on the corner of Lamar and Young streets, the boomerang- shaped hotel tower is situated in a way that will provide shade to both the northern and eastern portions of the site, where the surrounding outdoor plazas, dining and shopping venues will be located. This was done in an effort to promote an active, pleasant and inviting pedestrian experience along both streets, Tindall explained.

To further activate these newly formed public spaces, the podium level hotel functions will be clad primarily in a highly transparent glazing. "The transparent skin fosters a sense of spaciousness; providing the entry plaza with a seamless and unencumbered integration between street and struc- ture, inviting guests in without overpowering or intimidating," Tindall said.

The architects have selected aluminum curtainwalls from Santa Monica, Calif.-based Oldcastle Glass and distributed by Alsip, Ill.-based Trainor Glass; aluminum composite material panels for the fascia, wall cladding, roof screen, porte cochere and canopies; and perforated cor- rugated aluminum panels for the roof screen. Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon Inc. is supplying the glass for the structural insulated glass units being fabricated by JE Berkowitz LP, Pedricktown, N.J. W&W Glass LLC, Nanuet, N.Y., is supplying the structural glass wall and glass pool bar canopy. The metal panel subcontractor has yet to be determined.

"Metal panels were chosen to clad the accent walls, fascia and protruding building elements because of its crisp lines, monolithic appearance and relation to the existing context of the adjacent convention center," Tindall said. "The combination of perforated metal and composite metal panel used for the roof screen allows for a strong design element that is both functional in materiality, but undulating and organic in mass, coun- tering the pureness of the tower."

"The site orientation, massing and use of trans- parent skin materials are all about maximizing views of the downtown urban surrounding and creating a visible liveliness within the building which draws people in and activates pedestrian activity between the convention center and downtown," Tindall con- tinued. "The tower uses a continuous butt-glazed curtainwall system which creates a clean and pure volume that floats above the more textured mix of materials at the podium base. The curtainwall at the podium level public spaces uses a deep aluminum cap creating more depth and shadow."

An Iconic Symbol

In addition to the interactions with adjacent retail, the building responds to the neighboring architec- ture of the Convention Center and the city at large. To maximize accessibility to the Convention Center amenities and promote spatial continuity between the two structures, the hotel's more than 80,000 square feet (7,432 m2) of public-use spaces—includ- ing meeting space, several restaurants, lounges and a signature spa—will be located on the lower level. The tower of rooms will rest atop a podium of stone and glass, as a way of presenting the iconic symbol to the surrounding city.

Additionally, the tower's rounded ends will provide end suites with expansive 180-degree views of the Dallas skyline. Where the hotel tower and podium intersect, a rooftop terrace will be available for public and private functions. The vegetated retreat is designed to serve as a gathering spot in the downtown area, 60 feet (18 m) above street level. The modern oasis in the midst of the city will provide unparalleled views and feature lush greenery, an 1,800-square-foot (167-m2) pool and adjacent pool bar.

pool deck

Texas Chic Design

Guests will be welcomed upon arrival by a design that strives toward a sleek, but soft modern aesthet- ic minimally adorned to satisfy a feeling of hospi- table comfort, Tindall said. Called "Texas chic," the design will emerge as a sophisticated and timeless integration of local materials and open space. The interior design team—consisting of a collaborative group of professionals from 5G Studio_Collaborative and Dallas-based Vivian-Nichols Associates Inc.—are sympathetic to a need for a space that echoes the city in which the hotel resides.

the existing context of the adjacent convention center,