Discovering Craft in Denton

TxA Design Committee Chair Brantley Hightower, AIA, invites you to join him in Denton for keynote presentations, tours, and much more at our Fourth Annual Design Conference: CRAFT.

Discovering Craft in Denton

At the end of February, I am planning to drive from San Antonio up the I-35 corridor. I will not stop in either Dallas or Fort Worth, but will instead continue north another half-hour to the small town of Denton. Although it is a lovely place to visit in its own right, my reason for making this particular trip will be to attend the Texas Society of Architects’ 2015 Design Conference: CRAFT.

Denton is home to many of O’Neil Ford’s significant early works, making it a natural destination to explore craft — the art and science of how materials come together to make architecture — and its influence on how we build in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. The conference will be framed by a discussion of how Ford blended historic and modern ideas about craft to create an architecture that was uniquely suited to its place. The itinerary promises to make for an extraordinary weekend.

On Friday afternoon, we will meet at the Little Chapel in the Woods on the campus of Texas Woman’s University (image A). Completed in 1939, the building proved to be seminal project for Ford. The intimate space will act as a perfect setting for Dr. Kathryn O’Rourke to discuss the role of craft in Ford’s career. From there, we will visit Denton’s First Christian Church. Completed by Ford 20 years after the Little Chapel, the building’s traditional form masks a series of thin shell concrete vaults engineered by Felix Candella. At the end of a busy first day, we will enjoy an informal dinner at a favorite local brewpub.

CRAFT will explore some of Denton's finest architectural gems, including the Little Chapel in the Woods and First Christian Church – photos by Brantley Hightower

On Saturday, we will continue our study of Ford by touring a series of public buildings built for the city of Denton in the 1960s. These projects include a library, city hall, and civic center. Next, we will visit the historic Denton County Courthouse, which was built by Wesley Clark Dodson in 1896.  Inside this monument of 19th century craft, we will hear Tom Kundig, FAIA, describe his unique take on 21st century craft.

Later that afternoon, we head north to visit the Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion, designed by Lake|Flato Architects. There, David Salmela, FAIA, will talk about his Midwestern understanding of craft. We will then return to Denton for a more formal dinner at the best Italian restaurant in town.

The second day of the conference will allow participants to visit the Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion and the Denton County Courthouse – (left) photo by Brantley Hightower (right) photo by Casey Dunn

The conference will conclude on Sunday, when we will return to the Little Chapel to hear a panel discussion featuring Kundig, O’Rourke, and Salmela. The conversation will be moderated by our own Max Levy, FAIA.

The tours promise to be enlightening, and the lectures should be amazing. What I appreciate most about the Design Conference is the intimate scale of the event. It affords a unique opportunity to personally visit with the likes of Kundig, O’Rourke, and Salmela, as well as many of my colleagues from across the state. I would love to share this experience with you as well.

Seating is limited, so register today, while space is still available.