The Last Word: Why Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos Won the DMA’s International Design Competition

“Their concept design mixes a poetic sensibility with a dynamic and sustainable design strategy that respects Larrabee’s original intentions, all the while preparing us to become a 21st-century museum.”

Gowri Sharma & Jeffrey Ellerman
President and Chairman of the DMA Board of Trustees, respectively
.…on why Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos won the “Reimagining the Dallas Museum of Art” International Design Competition.

The Dallas Museum of Art announced today that the team led by Madrid-based Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos has won the “Reimagining the Dallas Museum of Art” International Design Competition.

The competition winners describe their proposal “as a reflection of the original building, transforming the relationship between art, landscape, and community into a balance of memory and innovation.”

Ross Avenue Plaza View [Rendering: © Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos]

The DMA’s 1984 building was designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, whose “original design intent” is respected by the winning proposal, the museum said. The NSA team’s solution includes “a new floating contemporary art gallery on the roof and rebalances the north and south façades, communicating the expression of art via an exterior LED-generated artwork mediated by a perforated surface,” the DMA said.

Transparent glass at the north façade facing Klyde Warren Park and at the Harwood Street façades at ground level will give passers-by views of visitors inside the museum as they stroll about and explore art works.

Winning proposal was one of 154 international submissions

View from Klyde Warren Park [Rendering: © Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos]

The decision by the Museum’s Architect Selection Committee  was ratified Wednesday by the museum’s board of trustees, concluding a six-month international competition which launched in February and attracted 154 submissions from around the world.

Six finalists were chosen in April, including two firms from New York, two from Los Angeles, one from London, and the winning Madrid team.

Winning Madrid firm has created notable buildings

Architects Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano [Photo © Alvaro Felgueroso Lobo]

The Spanish design team of Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano (above) is used to snagging wins. Their accolades include the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Hannes Meyer Prize, the Alvar Aalto Medal, and the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts from the Government of Spain.

The architects are known for their “dynamic and innovative façades” at the Contemporary Art Centre in Córdoba and the Montblanc Haus in Hamburg, the DMA said. Other major works include the Madinat al-Zahra Museum, the Moritzburg Museum in Halle, and the forthcoming Cité du Théâtre, Paris. 

A reimagined museum for a metropolis that’s ‘changing by the minute’

Rooftop Terrace and Event Space View [Rendering © Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos]

“Dallas-Fort Worth is changing by the minute: The metroplex’s success is such that it will soon be the third largest in the country,” the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director, Dr. Agustín Arteaga, said in a statement. “At the heart of one of the most exciting cities in America, the DMA is moving closer to the day when we can unveil a reimagined building, a new identity and, potentially, the most significant collection of contemporary art of any encyclopedic museum.”

Sending a signal to ‘everyone near and far’

Aerial View [Rendering © Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos]

“We need a building that reflects our importance to the city and has the potential to introduce new ways to present and interact with art,” Sharma and Ellerman added in a statement. “A transformation to the DMA campus will send a signal that we are inviting everyone near and far to join our vibrant art community.”

“The new and reinvented DMA promises to be a confident exemplar of sustainability and urbanism but also to be a place that’s just fun to be in,” Architect Selection Committee Co-Chairs Jennifer Eagle and Lucilo Peña said in a joint statement. “Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos is known in international design circles but is possibly a new name for the American public. Significantly, this will be the firm’s first building in the U.S.”

Rooftop Gallery View [Rendering: © Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos]

“Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos’ thoughtful and accomplished concept provides an inspired architectural masterplan for the Museum’s future, offering a solution that embraces Larrabee Barnes’ design principles yet creates a new identity and openness,” added the competition director, Malcolm Reading.

“Their clarity of design intent in conserving the integrity of the existing building and landscape offers dividends in reducing environmental impacts and optimizing energy use,” Reading added.

Madrid team was supported by other firms on their winning proposal

Enrique Sobejano and Fuensanta Nieto with Tim Culbert of Atelier Culbert, one of the firms that supported the winning proposal, at the Dallas Museum of Art on May 11, 2023. [Photo © Dallas Museum of Art]

The Madrid team’s winning proposal was supported by other firms including Atelier Culbert (Exhibition Design); SWA Group (Landscape Architect); Arup (MEP, Lighting and Sustainability Engineer); Bollinger+Grohmann (Structural and Facade Engineer); and PGAL (Local Architect).

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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