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Re:Vision Dallas Competition Announces Three Winners
Posted: Monday, June 01, 2009 |

With urban density expected to soar over the next 100 years, what will the future city look and feel like for its inhabitants?  Across the street from City Hall in downtown Dallas, a neglected parking lot spanning one square block will soon be transformed into one of the world’s most sophisticated models for sustainable urban development. 

Today, Urban Re:Vision announced the winners of its international design competition, Re:Vision Dallas, which drew hundreds of entries from the world’s top architecture firms and city planners in 26 countries.  The self-sustaining inner-city block will run “off the grid” using advanced technologies to capture wind, solar, water and geothermal resources. Meant to contribute to an array of revitalization programs in Dallas, the block will generate resources, and support and empower the community, all while acting as a working model of sustainability for cities around the world.

A local community development organization, the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation (CDC), is the lead developer for the project.  “The quality of the thought and effort of the design teams is astounding.  It was very clear that a lot of people had put their hearts and souls into this competition,” said CDC Executive Director John Greenan. “It was an absolute privilege spending time with the competition entries and seeing their creative vision.”

On Dec. 5, 2008, prior to the competition, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert hosted urban planners and leading design professionals from around the country for an intensive “design charette” put on by Re:Vision to examine the necessary framework and community impact of what will become the first fully sustainable, urban square block in the U.S.  “I’d like to see Dallas be at the forefront of design, sustainability and vibrancy of cities,” says Mayor Leppert. (VIDEO: Watch Mayor Leppert’s Kickoff Speech)

Entries were judged by a panel comprised of a number of Dallas community leaders as well as several expert global architects and community planners.  Among the judges were Eric Corey Freed, principal of organicARCHITECT and Aidan Hughes, principal at ARUP, leading North American planning practice.  Also on the panel were Nathanial Corum, an architect with Architecture For Humanity, Pliny Fisk, director/co-founder of Maximum Potential Building Systems and Sergio Palleroni, director/co-founder of the BaSiC Initiative at University of Texas at Austin.  Acting as advisors were Cameron Sinclair, executive director/co-founder of Architecture For Humanity, and Peter Head, director of ARUP.

The jury criteria were evenly balanced to consider:

  • Sustainability and reality of intent
  • Affordability/Constructability: Could it be built in the next few years?
  • Innovation and Originality
  • Incorporation of Sustainable Materials and Practices

The three Re:Vision Dallas finalists are:

Entry #193: Forwarding Dallas, chosen for European-style massing, vegetated screens, innovation


Entry #193: Forwarding Dallas by Atelier Data & MOOV

Architectural Firm: Atelier Data & MOOV
Lisbon, Portugal

Authors: António Louro (MOOV), Filipe Vogt (Atelier Data), Marta Frazão (Atelier Data)
Collaborators: André Almeida (Atelier Data), Carolina Pombo (Atelier Data), Inês Vicente (Atelier Data), José Niza (MOOV), João Calhau (MOOV)
Landscape architecture: Susana Rodrigues
Energy efficiency and resources: Maria João Rodrigues, João Parente
Concept communication: João Rato


Entry #193: Forwarding Dallas by Atelier Data & MOOV


Entry #193: Forwarding Dallas by Atelier Data & MOOV


Entry #193: Forwarding Dallas by Atelier Data & MOOV

Forwarding Dallas is modeled after one of the most diverse systems in nature, the hillside.  The site is a series of valleys and hilltops.  The valleys contain trees and more luxurious plants which transition into more resistant plants as the altitude increases.  Atop the hills, solar thermal, photovoltaic and wind energy is harvested. 

Design components include:

  • Heavy utilization of native vegetation
  • Open ‘green’ spaces including wooded paths and interior courtyards as well as green roof prairies and orchards
  • 100% prefabricated construction system, integrating building materials from local sources
  • Housing options from studio apartments to three bedroom flats fit to accommodate approximately 854 residents
  • Combination of photovoltaic (solar) and wind power which will providing 100% of the energy needed for each resident
  • A Southwest façade set up for solar gain in a venetian-blind-like system which adjusts according to the season
  • A Northeast façade made from prefabricated, thick, high thermal mass straw bales provides added insulation
  • Rooftop water catchment system designed to recycle water collected from rooftops and store underground for later use
  • Public green houses, including a sensorial greenhouse, swimming pool green house and meeting point green house
  • Water permeable paved areas to prevent pooling and flooding

A spiritual space, gymnasium, café and exhibition space are also provided to accommodate various lifestyles.  There is a temporary accommodation center as well as a daycare center designed for both children and the elderly. 

Entry #113: Entangled Bank, chosen for striking full-block massing, arrangement of sustainable systems


Entry #113: Entangled Bank by Little

Architectural Firm: Little
Charlotte, North Carolina

Team Members: Bradley Bartholomew, Ashley Spink, Stacy Franz, Kevin Franz, Kumar Karadi, Don Breemes, Coby Watts, Chad Lukenbaugh, Jason Bizzaro, Ryan Davis, Philippe Bouyer, Bo Sun


Entry #113: Entangled Bank by Little


Entry #113: Entangled Bank by Little


Entry #113: Entangled Bank by Little

The Entangled Bank is a mixed use development combines residence and retail, making each sustainable through the integration of education and green technology. On top of the Entangled Bank is a green roof with vegetation and a sky pasture to sustain ‘Dexter’ livestock that require less dietary consumption and can thrive on pastures where other cattle would starve. The sky pasture is also available for each tenant in the community to grown produce for their own consumption or resale in the market. The power utility system outfitted with vertical axis wind turbine that produces 50% more electricity than conventional turbines. This is best suited to the Dallas median wind needed to generate the turbines. A grey water treatment will be redistributed for irrigation. This plan is designed to incorporate education with sustainable profitability through the Organic Farming Institute and a Slow Food Restaurant. Food will be grown on site for the organic grocery store and host produce from many local organic farmers.

Design components include:

  • Intensive green roof system providing the base structure for an elevated park
  • Grain field providing seasonal vegetation for livestock grazing in the sky pasture
  • A vertical farm which climbs the side of the building for tenant use
  • Photovoltaic panels are attached to the exterior providing up to 100% of the power required on each of the 500 units
  • Vertical axis wind turbine will provide power for core needs including common lighting, retail space and parking level ventilation
  • Glass ponds on the elevated park level captures runoff from rooftop vegetation

Entry #136: Greenways Xero Energy, chosen for creating sense of community, bold greenway plans


Entry #136: Greenways Xero Energy by David Baker and Partners Architects and Fletcher Studio

Architectural Firm: David Baker and Partners Architects and Fletcher Studio
San Francisco, California

Team Members: Mark Hogan, Amit Price Patel, Ian Dunn, Amanda Loper
From Fletcher Studio: David Fletcher, Sarah Donato
Rendering assistance from Mike Brown and Megan Morris of Medized.


Entry #136: Greenways Xero Energy by David Baker and Partners Architects and Fletcher Studio


Entry #136: Greenways Xero Energy by David Baker and Partners Architects and Fletcher Studio


Entry #136: Greenways Xero Energy by David Baker and Partners Architects and Fletcher Studio

The Greenways Xero Energy design, which centers around a working landscape, focuses heavily on making connections with surrounding neighborhoods.  The 12-story building is divided into three, four-story sections and houses 210 bedrooms total. 

Design Components Include:

  • Walkable “greenways” serving as the public space infrastructure
  • Multi-modal transit center designed to decrease reliance on cars
  • Ground level and balcony gardens to provide shade and improve air quality
  • Self-sustainability through urban agriculture practices including vertical farming and slow food restaurants
  • Water catchment from adjacent buildings to provide grey water irrigation system
  • Micro-retail space offering a variety of goods and services
  • Domestic solar hot water system
  • Photovoltaic panels in a grid-tied system on south façade produce electricity during daylight hours
  • Alternating courtyards integrated into the building design creates a variety of micro-climates across different seasons
  • Landscaped surfaces wind up from the street level and continue onto the green roof providing additional shade to south façade
  • Ground source heat pump combined with hybrid dessicant cooling system provides air conditioning during summer months with minimal energy use

By nature of its concept, Greenways Xero Energy allows for easy integration of surrounding areas into the block, each ‘district’ having a unique identity; one might be the arts district while another is the historic or design district.  Elements of this unique platform include public orchards, community gardens, private planter boxes, food stalls and locally supplied restaurants, all designed to appeal to the surrounding Dallas community and connect this block with surrounding neighborhoods.

Re:Vision Dallas is the 6th in a series of global competitions that focus on:

Images: Re:Vision Dallas

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Please somebody help me!

1. Why is it that anything that has to do with sustainability, green, eco-friendly or you name it, most or all designs are bloated with the famous invasion of poison ivy crawling all over the building.

2. What's with these photochop renderings? We have happy earth all of the sudden! Lot of fellows all smiling having a good time.

3. Ah don't forget the infamous pv's, all over the place.

4. Screens, balconies, walkable designs, vertical farming, the famous square pop-ups coming out of buildings. Of course let's not forget our famous zig-zag design. Huge ass long green roofs.

Is sustainability really this? I am confused really.

And lastly, as far as I can remember the competition called for something unique, out of the ordinary, something different that they have not seen. That was clearly stated on the competition.

Correct me please, is this truly visionary and different from other sustainable projects I seen before? I am sorry buy they awfully look same.

I think the winning entries have a lot of merit and are carefully given attention to main issues of sustainability.

Is our understanding of sustainability design becoming too predictable?

I am not bashing on the entries. But, but

I am really confused or just playing stupid.


sthlm, swdn
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
"I am not bashing on the entries".
Eh, you're not?

Mark T
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
these are hilarious!!
I love the tree enclosures on David Bakers, like little overwrought green architecture billboards!

hong kong
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
to answer your question on the "poison ivy", it is the attempt of designers, I believe, to maximize the amount of vegetation on a structure to provide O2 and sequester CO2.

I think you misunderstand what is going on with these projects. These designers are not going for the traditional, in fact they are going where the future of architecture is inevitably headed, which is towards a changing landscape. Why do you say "the infamous pvs"? Those are actually a good thing.

If your intent was not to simply bash the projects, what was it?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Come on

Why some of you get so defensive.

All I am asking are simple questions and how every design that has to do with sustainability looks the same. Yet somewhat on the competition website was clearly stated how they were looking for something visionary.

If this is truly visionary. Hey I am all for it. Is this really the future? I really don't know. I think is a good step to solve some problems.


Ann Arbor
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
What a joke! So now sustainable just means to put grass and vegetation on everything? Has anyone on the jury actually studied sustainable architecture to know what it is. There is way more to sustainable architecture than just that, there is the materials where they come from how far they are shipped. Passive and Active solar systems. Get it together jury and "designers" I use the term designer very lightly, the forms are HORRIBLE except the last one, and that one is ruined once you get to the back view. Nothing about these submissions are interesting nothing at all.

United States
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
I am going to have to agree with Superchicharron...the project brief was specific, and each of the entries explores the idea of sustainable design with tired clichés' of what it means to be sustainable:
The competition became about the form, and not about a process, strategy or system for sustainability.
Innovation is lacking in all three, as really the construction cost of the individual structural framing and non modularity of these projects prevents them from being economically viable.
Further, the amount of water required to sustain the "green" in a climate such as Dallas should have disqualified these proposals. The rain-fall alone is not enough to do what these proposals suggest.
I am a little disappointed as well with the jurors, as selecting the 'winners' became an issue of form vs. function...and function not as an aesthetic "green ear-rings", which I believe is what Superchicharron was alluding to concerning the PV, but a true understanding of the micro climate of Dallas, sun angles, wind direction etc.
Some thoughts:
Winner 1:
The living units at the ground level would be dark, all the time...with amazing views to the units directly across...East and West Facades are broad sided, increasing the energy cooling loads, and there is little attention to prevailing winds, evidenced by the wind turbine selected for aesthetics vs. function.
Winner 2:
Again, form is the issue; the main tower building is broad sided to the southeast, and the main living units toward the freeway. The noise and pollution alone would prevent anyone from venturing out of doors, unless they were exploring the self conscious interior of the site. Nothing says urban friendly like building walls to the neighboring sites. What would have been nice is to understand the performative nature to the "green-skin". It basically becomes a typical developer urban block wearing a "plant cape".
Winner 3:
For me, the most offensive of the three, as it clearly is about form, and the standard "sustainable" tricks of the trade, housed in a green screen.
The single loaded corridors would be cost prohibitive. The competition was clearly about how you could actually build a prototype that would work.
The custom form alone should have eliminated the utopian vision for this block.
RE: VISION DALLAS ended sadly the same all competitions in this genre do...it's about the form and the visual sex and not the actual science that backs it up.
It will be interesting to see how this develops into an urban city block, with typical housing above and retail below, and some sort of roof garden; pretending to be innovative and sustainable.
The only thing I am grateful for from the jurors of the winners selected, is none used "shipping containers" as the end all solution for the world's sustainable housing crisis. If I see another "shipping container" housing solution, I am going to puke.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009
if you're looking for something really innovative, have a look at the winner of the flip-a-strip competition:


does that deserve more plaudits just for innovation's sake? i almost puked when i saw that, for its complete failure to address the core issue of that competition...but green is trendy and if you slap on some plants and wind turbines, you've got a winner...

so in some respects, i have the same cynicism in the oversimplification of sustainable design...but what i see here in the revision dallas winners, are three projects picked to represent some of the key issues (they are not ranked 1,2 and 3, they are equal finalists, no?)...

while it's not really fair to assess the winners without the full stories (i'm downloading the full press kits for each entry to have a closer look), i will make these comments:

193 i see as being a demonstration of all their green ideas in a very pure design that makes no acknowledgement of the context, for the sake of total design integrity...something i would expect as a thesis project for illustrative purposes...in reality, i wouldn't be so excited to see a whole block of these forms actually built...too literal and repetitive, especially as a model for other blocks...but i could see myself living here, with some massing mods...

113 was surprising in its realistic massing to me...while someone said it built a wall to the neighbour, i would say that tightly defined streets are essential in an urban context which this would be...this project would not look out of place, minus the green cape, in downtown vancouver if you doubled the height of the tower...there, the downtown has been taken over by ubiquitous "podium and tower" developments very similar in almost all respects to this scheme...oddly enough, the vancouver public library had the same tower orientation problem at competition stage, but was simply moved to the opposite side when built...i also like the idea of the dexter mini-cattle, especially for those neighbourhood BBQ nights...mini-ribs and mini-brisket...will there be a community pit boss?

136 in my opinion is the weakest of the winners, but does play on the importance for sexiness in marketing...in truth, a lot of green technology is not visible (low-e glass, grey water systems, low VOC paint, fly-ash concrete, etc) so there is a need to provide symbols and shout sometimes...

i do feel that the trend towards "superficial green" as more people jump on the bandwagon is a problem, but it's better that people slowly get on board, than dismiss it completely...on the other hand, there are the entries that are so focussed on sustainability as being technology, that they forget the other aspects of design...

in particular, i would be interested in knowing of any of these entries incorporated issues such as legislated funding requirements, social housing policy, transportation policy, etc. to me, the competitions that led up to this one demonstrated a lot more interesting grass-roots initiatives and people-focussed strategies...

still, if one thinks they can do better than the winners here, then i say let's see/hear what those proposals would be like...rather than look for off the wall innovation like the flip-a-strip winner, let's see some core sustainable technologies built into real projects as a start...

Philly, yo.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
I think Superchicharron's attempt was to keep honesty, integrity, and discourse alive in this quaint little profession of architecture. Sustainability has an aesthetic appearance that cheapens architecture to the visual realm. vision is one of five senses used to absorb and digest space. not the only sense.

for a competition entitied "RE:VISION Dallas" I think the emphasis should be on the "re" as in, it's been done.

the proposals all have merit but vertical farms? why does EVERY SINGLE PROJECT TO DO WITH SUSTAINIBILITY deploy a vertical farm strategy with a modernist puncture strategy.

competitions are the means to produce thoughtful and challenging discourse in architecture...which I think Superchicharron has achieved.

Austin, Texas
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Our office submitted to this competition, but at some point we realized the near impossibility of the brief. We were tasked with creating a self-sustaining city block in a downtown without very many of the things that normally make city centers successful. Apart from the office towers, the arts district, and the transit hub, downtown Dallas lacks the diversity and mix of use between retail, office, residential and cultural components that one would expect from a city the size of Dallas. The preponderance of parking lots and lack of density this close to downtown speaks to this fact. The implication for the proposal then, was that we were essentially on our own in trying to create a vital city neighborhood AND a self-sustaining building on a shoe-string budget - somewhere around $60 to $100 per square foot if you run the numbers.

I agree with some of the comments about form-driven, green-washed projects and the lack of rational construction systems, but I think that ultimately the proposition from the organizers was untenable. They intend to build this, so hopefully I am proven wrong.

J. Linden
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Our office also submitted to this and ran into similar hurdles as described by tornbjerg. Regardless of the near impossibility of achieving what the brief stated at $100/sf (on a good day), our biggest struggle was with the amount of energy needed to satisfy such a dense program.

Even after a very generous reduction of the average household energy consumption by up to 50%, we still calculated (yes, with consultants) a need to employ over 5x the amount of vertical axis wind turbines that #1 is proposing (and dont horizontal turbines defeat the whole purpose of mlti-directional vawt?) But at least they are showing something, as opposed to just writing things like "The power utility system outfitted with vertical axis wind turbine that produces 50% more electricity than conventional turbines", which seems unlikely, and without any representation.)

AND 50,000+ sf of sw-s-se facing photovoltaics at a slope of avg.23 degrees (basically the entire south face of #3, without fenestration, and not vertical).

This is a bit dry but given the assumed seriousness of the competition we found it important and a fun challenge.

Having said all this I dont in all honesty believe that we were able to solve this brief truthfully either, so perhaps these winners are simply representing the best attempts. Though I was really hoping to see some submissions that found real solutions.

Monday, June 15, 2009
I am not sure what needs you naysayers are meeting by discrediting such a well intentioned project without first studying it. I hope that the acts of scanning (not reading or studying) the information and then soliciting others into your negative viewpoint in some way makes you feel better.

I was originally skeptical that this was just Tom Leppert PR spin. I contacted the PR firm on the press release and they sent me hundreds of pages of detailed design briefs. It turned out the PR firm was not working for the city or the developer. They represented "Urban Revision" which is a community advocacy nonprofit out of San Francisco. I can't get anyone from Dallas to return a phone call. So I spent over an hour examining these projects in detail.

Next I compared this initiative with about a half dozen others and this was the only one that isn't dripping with political BS. And yes, this is a 100% sustainable initiative that also takes the time to care for livability, economics and other important pieces of the cake.

Maybe those who are slamming the project would benefit from either studying it or at least looking closer. One thing is for sure, I dont think you are changing the world for the better by pointlessly complaining about it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Very cool...especially love Entagled Bank...Would love one of those condos!

Jim Dodson
Thursday, June 18, 2009
We entered Re:Vision Dallas with the sincere hope that the panel of hard-core and knowledgable jury members would choose innovative designs that actually worked. I have to say that I am dissapointed with the results, not just because we didn't win (that's part of the game), but because the winning projects don't live up to my expectations in relation to the brief. I have to agree completely with "D"'s comments above.

Don't get me wrong, I think what Urban Revision is trying to do is great, and there is no question that they are well intentioned. But the results of this competition make me question if this is the best way to go about this? It's certainly the most ambitious of their projects so far. Maybe these projects are more complex than we can see, or than they are being presented as? I for one would like to see the full competition presentation of all the projects, not just the soundbytes and bullet-points that are being brought forth so far. Perhaps we are judging them too harshly. If they release all the information then hopefully everyone could learn from the examples that these winning projects should provide.

I have a number of issues with Entangled Bank - as it is pretty much the same massing concept as our scheme. The basic idea is good if you want to cram in the kind of density they asked for in the brief. I think Forward Dallas is a good example of why a tower solution is preferred - just look at the shading of the lower level apartments, and the lovely views straight to your neighbors. Xero solved this by dividing the program over both blocks, which is a worthwhile comment to the brief.

Unfortunately, Entangled Bank got the siting all wrong. The whole project is rotated 90 degrees to what it should have been on the site! Surely they must have misunderstood where the sun is coming from? They have placed the largest surface area of the project facing west, the side you should minimise in a climate like Dallas. All of the apartments in the tower face towards the highway and the afternoon/evening sun which will make it a scorcher. You'll also have to keep the blinds down to keep out the sun, which means you have to turn on lights inside. The third perspective presented makes it look like all that greenery is getting plenty of sun, facing south, and acting as shading, but it's facing directly EAST! This means all the garden spaces only get sun half of the day, meanwhile the western facade has massive solar gain. This is a HUGE and obvious flaw that cannot be overlooked and should not have been pardoned by the jury.

Entangled Bank also touts that the vertical wind turbine will provide "power for core needs". This is patently untrue in Dallas according to the wind tables we have studied. Wind power was the first thing we removed from our list when looking at energy solutions. In fact, two of the three winners rely heavily on wind power, but anyone who has looked at the wind data should know that it won't work. I would think the jury should have been more skeptical to this as well. If the goal is to develop urban strategies that work, why award two designs with such serious flaws? Solar PV is the only way to go in Dallas, and even then you need a massive amount of solar panels to do it. None of the winning projects are showing nearly enough solar panels to be realistic. Our project had almost 80,000sqft of solar panels with more-or-less optimum placement, this provided HALF the energy necessary according to our calculations (the rest would have beem provided with a local CHP heat and power generator), but you still would have to supplement from the grid. It's simply not true to say that you can generate all energy needs through wind and solar alone - the math just isn't there. If it is I'd like to see it proven.

At the end of the day I just don't think the jury had enough time to study all the projects in detail, to understand the claims that were being made. How can the jury here reasonably deal with over 200 entries in just a couple of weeks? It's understandable that they had more entries than they thought they would, but I think the results show that a competition process with a short jury period is not optimum when it comes to evaluating winners when the topic of the competition is so complex.

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