The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas was designed with an innovative cast aluminum sunscreen—specifically tuned to the building’s coordinates—floating above its glass roof. The sunscreen’s patented egg crate-shaped “oculi” control the natural light filtering into the galleries and provide a dramatic view to the sky when looking north. Shortly after the Nasher’s construction, Museum Tower—a 42-story condo tower—was erected adjacent to the Nasher. While any tower would reflect some light back into the Nasher’s galleries and impede views to the sky, Museum Tower’s height, elliptical plan geometry, and highly reflective glass greatly exacerbate these problems.
The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund—Museum Tower’s developer—commissioned us to explore an option that would not touch Museum Tower or the Nasher. The option had to achieve three objectives: protect the Nasher’s galleries year-round; minimize the impact to the real estate value of Museum Tower; and add positively to the Dallas Arts District.
The reflections from Museum Tower were mapped at each time of day for every day of the year onto a vertical plane running down the center of the road that separates Museum Tower and the Nasher. This analysis circumscribed the silhouette required to block all reflections--a shape 343ft tall, 168ft wide and 57ft above grade.
The result is a dynamic, sunlight-responsive sculpture, which blocks glare from Museum Tower onto the Nasher, maintains apartment views, and serves as a symbol for the Arts District. The sculpture is composed of a matte, neutral grey, light-diffusing material, pixelated into variably dimensioned umbrellas that open in the precise constellation needed at any given moment, and retract when not. The lightweight and cost-effective armature for the umbrellas’ stems is a bicycle-wheel-like perimeter ring supported at its hub by a tripod reaching from a parking lot adjacent to Museum Tower.