The renovation of 400 Record, located in an underused area of downtown Dallas, began with reevaluating its purpose within the cityscape. Built in the 1980s, the nearly vacant, 17-story office tower was designed to separate the public and private realms. Solid ground level walls, harsh and deserted public spaces, and unwelcoming, heavy planters created a sharp, impermeable edge condition which reinforced the austerity of the building. The idea was to activate the building’s street-level presence by designing a space that attracted both the tenants and the community.
In order to transform the fortress-like building into a transparent, engaging, and energetic space, the client and design team decided to completely rebrand, reposition, and reshape 400 Record’s new identity. The existing ground level walls of the 235,000 square-foot office tower were removed to create a better flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. The double-height lobby is now enclosed with frameless glass and a custom-designed metal canopy that creates a dramatic new front door.
A major feature is the mezzanine restaurant, Bullion, which appears to float in the space as it is suspended over the lobby. The new destination restaurant and bar is presented as a golden, floating, sculptural element covered in copper alloy shingles—a low-tech cladding solution on a high tech form. With an expansive window facing the street, the restaurant acts as an elevated stage where patrons, themselves audience to an opulent sensory experience, become part of an elaborate performance for passersby. A dramatic glass spiral staircase commands attention from the plaza and draws guests up into the elaborate restaurant suspended above.
The striking 10,000 square-foot louvered canopy, oriented for optimal solar shading, appears to glide through the building, providing shade for the large, outdoor plaza and creating a visual connection between indoors and outdoors. The exterior louvers tilt 45 degrees but possess a slight twist just before they meet the glazing, and then turn flat beyond the glass. This manipulated linear component conveys movement and helps draw the eye into the lobby and its impressive collection of contemporary art, while further blurring the line between architecture and interior architecture.
Visible from the street and open to the public—the contemporary art flows from the outdoor plaza to the indoor lobby, enticing the community to engage with the space.
To dissolve the harsh edge of the plaza and animate the open public space, the original concrete barriers were eliminated and replaced with softer, curvilinear organic forms. In southern cities of the United States, common areas must provide shelter and a microclimate that creates a compelling reason to linger outdoors. The landscaping works with the canopy to provide shade and comfort from the elements, welcoming natural relief in the highly urban context for the community.
A new sky garden and canopy occupies the crown of the building, serving as another event space with dramatic views of the Trinity River corridor. Floors 16 and 17 have added transparency and are connected by a monumental stair.
400 Record has integrated itself into the urban fabric of the city, allowing people to reclaim their experience of Dallas at the most basic and humanistic scale. Inviting interaction and engaging the pedestrian were essential components to dissolving the barriers that separated this building from the surrounding cityscape. The project dramatically enhances the street experience and provides beauty, light, and space for the community to explore.
Gensler partners with clients on some 3,000 projects every year, varying from ventures as small as a wine label or as large as a new urban district. With more than 6,000 professionals networked across 48 locations, the global architecture, design and planning firm serves clients as trusted advisors, combining localized expertise with global perspective wherever new opportunities arise. Gensler’s work reflects an enduring commitment to sustainability and the belief that design is one of the most powerful strategic tools for securing lasting competitive advantage. Gensler is distinguished by an unwavering commitment to client success. Gensler designers strive to make the places people live, work and play more inspiring, more resilient and more impactful.
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