An architect to design the next stage for the Zachary Scott Theatre Center.
Zach's Next Stage
In the current arts building boom, we've grown accustomed to lengthy and very public selection processes before a project architect is named. First, the organization canvases the architectural community to see who's game to design its new facility, then a committee pores over the responses and culls out some finalists, then the finalists fly down and make presentations, and at last, after a long, nail-chewing period, the organization announces its choice. And every step of the process is accompanied by press releases and commentary. We know the drill from the Austin Museum of Art, the Blanton Museum of Art (twice!), the Long Center, et al. Now, that approach can be exciting, heightening anticipation for the project, but it can also be deadly, dragging the process out and and exposing its weaknesses (see the Blanton). Well, that approach was not for the Zachary Scott Theatre Center. While a third space has been on the long-range plan for the theatre for some time, no one at Zach has been talking it up as imminent. Then, last week Zach up and announced that it had an architect for the third theatre, a roughly 500-seat facility to be built on the corner of South Lamar and Riverside. No finalists, no waiting, no muss, no fuss, just meet-us-at-the-Charles-Moore-House-and-here-he-is. And is he a prize. The man building Zach's theatre is none other than Steven Holl, an acclaimed New York architect whose innovative approach to light, line, space, and landscape have led to some stunningly beautiful, totally original buildings and made him a world leader in design. A leisurely visit to his Web site -- www.stevenholl.com -- will reveal this more clearly than I ever can, but suffice it to say, Zach has lined up an artist who will create a dynamic, playful, and likely very spiritual theatrical home for itself. And as it will be Holl's first-ever theatre to design, it'll be a historic facility, too. Endnote: Holl was a finalist for the Blanton the first time around and lost out to Herzog & de Meuron, as did Antoine Predock. Now, Austin is getting a Predock City Hall and a Holl theatre, but no Herzog & de Meuron museum.
Oh Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Well, let's just say I've had more pleasant weeks than the one just past. Last week's Arts story ["Everybody's a Critic," July 28], in which I figured very heavily as a subject, was a strange one to do, and finding myself at ground zero of so much commentary was odd and not a little discomfiting. But so it goes; I honestly feel this issue is worth discussing in our community and am glad it's out there. Now, I wasn't part of last week's story by design; I have a forum to shoot off my mouth every week, and that story was a chance for others to have their say. However, silence can be interpreted many ways, and lest anyone mistake my muteness for some high-handed attitude or secret agenda, I'd like to say this: First, I'm grateful to everyone who was willing to comment for the story, and for their frankness in expressing their views. Second, I don't consider this matter closed just because we've run one feature on it. I've been mulling over a lot of the ideas expressed in the story last week and would like to share my thoughts, as well as pose more questions. So let's keep talking about it, if not in the Chron then elsewhere. Third, I want to publicly thank Ada Calhoun for wading into that swamp of strong feelings and coming out with a story and Politics editor Amy Smith for editing the story for publication.