Retracing Texan history
Your Dallas itinerary will of course begin at the Texas School Book Depository from where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy in 1963. On the sixth floor, you explore JFK's last moments in the museum devoted to the tragedy of 22 November 1963. Apart from this unfortunate claim to fame, the building is emblematic of the city's early 20th century architecture: a Neo-Romanesque, simple and elegant style, all in red brick.
You will find the same colour and the same decoration – but more extravagant – as you walk past Dallas's Old Red Courthouse which dates back to 1892. The building was designed by the architect Max A. Orlopp. Its red sandstone and its rustic look are easily recognisable, making it one of the buildings typical of the Richardsonian style, named after the American architect who came to fame at the end of the 19th century. Since 2007, it has been home to a local history museum which some people nickname the Old Red Museum of Dallas, which documents the entire history of the Texan city.
Texas School Book Depository
411 Elm St. Dallas
Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture
100 S Houston St
Dallas, TX 75202
An architectural epicentre
Head for the Dallas Arts District, where you find yourself amidst an array of architecture unique of its kind, both with regard to the number of buildings, their diversity and the length of the period over which they were built. You spy the Reunion Tower built in the 1970s, whose modernity, which at the time was already astonishing, attracts your gaze. It consists of four pillars supporting a sphere itself consisting of three floors. It is your decision whether to climb the 837 steps or take one of the lifts which reaches the top in little more than 60 seconds. From there, 171 m above the rooftops, the view is fantastic, allowing you to admire the architectural profusion of the Texan city.
As you look at the Dallas skyline, you are also bound to notice the JP Morgan Chase Tower. This 55-storey skyscraper office building dates back to 1987. It owes part of its fame to its architect: Richard Keating, one of the leading figures of American architecture, whose post-modern style has become a benchmark. Before coming down again, and depending on the time, you can dine in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Reunion Tower. Unforgettable.
300 Reunion Blvd E
Dallas, TX 75207
+1 214 712-7040
Sculpture in the open air
The Nasher Sculpture Centre offers an experience of a different kind. It owes its existence – and its name – to a patron who wanted to make his private collection of more than 300 pieces available to the public. The Italian architect Renzo Piano designed an exceptional setting: gardens with a completely transparent building erected in their centre. You will doubtless find the atmosphere of the place very soothing and harmonious. Once over the threshold, you are struck by the play of natural light filtering across the large parallel sections of walls. To understand this magical effect, just look up to the roofs which are virtually transparent thanks to the alternate use of steel and glass. The works of Rodin, Matisse, Picasso, Calder and many others are wonderfully presented. In a two-hour visit, you cover almost two centuries of art history.
Your thirst for culture quenched, do not leave the venue immediately; take the time to wander through the gardens amidst other sculptures. Finally, make your way to the terrace of the Wolfgang Puck Café in the centre of the museum. If you ever decide to come in the evening, before the park closes at 9 pm, you might perhaps be lucky enough to have a picnic on the lawns with a direct view of the galleries. A real moment of relaxation, in a countrified setting right in the city centre.
Nasher Sculpture Centre
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, TX 75201
+1 214 242 5100
A museum revolution
The latest addition to the Arts District is the Perot Museum, named after the billionaire sponsor family behind the project. They commissioned its design to Thom Mayne, winner of the Pritzker Prize. Delivered in 2012, the building's design is bold, both in its very clean lines and the materials used, a mixture of light concrete and glass. The whole has the look of a floating cube, with herbaceous plants and rocks set on top and left to the natural effects of the seasons. You will not be able to ignore the over 150-metres-high glass escalator which seems to be emerging from the concrete façade. It takes you to the heart of an artificial forest, like a prelude to the experience you are about to undergo.
The same modernity marrying nature with technology characterises the 11 exhibition rooms which offer you a new museum experience. So, videos and 3-D animations, educational games, interactive workshops, simulations and models bring you into worlds where dinosaurs rub shoulders with precious stones, tell the story of the Big Bang and offer an immersive journey through history… After this very stimulating two-hour visit, suitable for all ages, drop into the museum's café on the fourth floor. An opportunity to chat about your favourite exhibits, ask each other questions to deepen your understanding, and extend this magical journey through the natural sciences.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
2201 N. Field Street
Dallas, TX 75202
+1 214 428-5555