Thursday, August 06, 2015

New North Texas real estate projects offer art along with office space


Folks asking directions to the new Cypress Waters office campus near LBJ Freeway are told to look for the big white horse.
That horse is hard to miss.
The 25-foot-tall sculpture by artist Kevin Box is a giant steel origami representation of Pegasus.
It welcomes visitors to the office park developer Billingsley Co. is building near the northeast corner of Belt Line Road and LBJ Freeway.
Two more major sculptures flank the Cypress Waters entrance on Belt Line Road. The 16-foot-high metal longhorns were created by sculptor Peter Busby.
The eye-catching cow and horse sculptures are the largest of more than a dozen artworks scattered around Cypress Waters.
“I want to have pieces of art you want to get photographed in front of,” said developer Lucy Billingsley. “Art is fun.”
Billingsley is one of dozens of North Texas developers who are including new artworks — many by local artists — in their latest real estate project.
The boom in building in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is fueling an increase in public access to sculptures and paintings included in new buildings.
“It’s something that makes you feel really good,” Billingsley said. “We are doing it in the parks and the lobbies of buildings and at apartments on the sidewalks and by the swimming pools.
“We are collecting art to enrich the environment.”
The patronage and partnerships of Dallas’ real estate community and artists go back decades.
Today’s emphasis on mixed-use developments and new office environments crammed with amenities to attract workers has put new emphasis on the relationship between art and real estate.
“Art and architecture are certainly part of the cultural fabric, and they have been married for millennia,” said Claude Albritton III, co-founder of the McKinney Avenue Contemporary gallery. “This is a continuation of that and perhaps an acceleration.
“Absolutely the public benefits,” he said. “Where else can you get off an elevator in an office building and see great art?”
At developer Craig Hall’s new downtown Dallas office tower, a ride down the elevators leads to what amounts to a sculpture garden on the east side of the building.
A half dozen sculptures and a mosaic mural line a walkway that connects the KPMG Plaza tower with Ross Avenue and Flora Street in the Arts District.
Developers are understandably shy about talking about price tags for the art, but significant pieces can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We spend a lot of time and money on art on every project,” Hall said, showing off the almost finished building. “We have a lot more to go here before we are done.”
Hall started using art and sculpture throughout his office park in Frisco more than a decade ago. The 162-acre Hall Office Park at the Dallas North Tollway and Gaylord Parkway has 35 acres of landscaped grounds and gardens, complete with large artworks.
“I got into art not for business reasons but because personally I liked it,” he said. “Over time I realized it really has helped commercially.
“People come because of it, and they enjoy it — it touches people.”
Hall said the late Dallas developer and art director Ray Nasher inspired him to include more art in projects.
“Ray gave me the backbone to spend more money,” he said. “Over time I’ve gotten more confident about it.
“I think it’s an investment that endures, and it really does make a difference in commercial properties.”
Steve Brown/Dallas News