The Power Station

Hocker Design Group: Housed in an historic Dallas Power & Light electrical sub-station building built in 1926, this new arts space, artist’s residence, and garden invites artists to respond to the raw character of the architecture – offering an alternative to the traditional gallery and museum context. Along with the interior spaces, an urban gallery garden has sprung to life within the former industrial compound. The exterior is an urban experience for pedestrians that travel by on their way to a hike and bike trail. Along the eastern facade, a cast-in-place concrete wall reinforces an urban edge while creating a minimal room as an extension of the building footprint. An intense collaboration with artist Jacob Kassay resulted in an elegant sculptural intervention.

The Power Station is a significant and prominent Dallas restoration which demonstrates what can happen when vision and creativity are at the helm of the process. Creation of the site’s exterior spaces was as important to the success of this project as was the architectural restoration of the building. Much of the garden design originated from studying the views from inside the building with selective use of both hardscape and plant material for screening. Juxtaposed with the historic industrial architectural details, the garden design incorporates a restrained materials palette: crushed aggregate, stone rip rap, concrete, steel, and native plantings. The continual patination of these materials ties architecture to garden and hardscape to softscape with light, ethereal connections. Areas were strategically left un-irrigated for a low water use and sustainable approach to site water management. An unused, remnant concrete shaft is planted with iris, sedges, and horsetail reed as a sunken rain garden. The exposed steel rebar “stitches” of the walls create an interesting contrast of “old” versus “new”. This is one of several minimal interventions that allow increased permeability and absorption of rain water run-off.

A matrix of several vine species rapidly advances up a structural steel framed chain link green screen that encapsulates a four-story stair tower. The vertical growth of vines provide the sense of privacy and security, and help shade against the west Texas sun. A beautifully articulated steel picket fence creates a physical barrier along the west while maintaining visual porosity into the gardens. The vertical cantilevered pickets animate the site with shadows as the sun crosses the site throughout the seasons. This sculptural use of materials increases the sense of space and the functionality of the small exterior courtyards. Much of the existing concrete pavement was retained and creatively incorporated into the new design. A section of the existing concrete was core drilled in a grid to create holes for plant interventions and increased permeability. The core drills are repurposed at the entry, and as with many items in the design, this became an exercise in reclamation and reuse. A colony of low-maintenance spineless prickly pear consume the south and east side of the site. A lone Mesquite Tree becomes a sculptural element announcing the entrance to the gardens and stair tower beyond. This small urban garden healed-back a former industrial site and had simple program requirements of privacy and usability. The building and garden relate to one another gently through the manipulation of architectural elements that are intentionally eroded by the introduction of lush plant material.

Data

Landscape Architecture: Hocker Design Group
Project Name: The Power Station
Location: 3816 Commerce Street Dallas, Texas
Consultants: Architect: Ron Wommack FAIA, Contractors: Texas Land Care, Phoenix 1 Restoration and Construction, Ltd., Concrete: Toby Velasquez, Pool Deck Construction Co., Artist: Jacob Kassay
Image Credits: Adolfo Cantu-Villareal & Gisela Borghi
Year Completed: 2011
Size: 7,910 sf

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