YOUNG ARCHITECTS SHAPE DALLAS
ON THEIR OWN TERMS.
BY LEE CULLUM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHAYNA FONTANA
Joshua Nimmo thought he would be with Lionel Morrison forever. He had discovered morrisonseifert-murphy on the Dallas website of AIA, and rushed to Dallas to join
the bonanza. After Oklahoma State University and a bit of bouncing about, Nimmo couldn’t help but be captivated by the chance to work on big-league projects such as Lucy Billingsley’s International Office Park and One Arts Plaza. Then it all fell apart, and Nimmo departed. “I didn’t want to hang around and fight for the remaining scraps,” he says, while admitting that to leave a semi-safe harbor “was not the smartest thing to do.” But he did it, and he needed a space to work. The perfect place was out there—an old White Star laundry he had “always loved,” on Greenville, near Mockingbird. He and interior designer Brant McFarlain leased the building and made the front part into an open office to sublet.
Nimmo spends a lot less time running all that now though, because architecture has picked up for him again since Alan Kagan came along. Kagan, a developer with a modern sensibility, had been sitting out the crash, waiting for the final unfolding, when suddenly he saw a way back into the building business: smaller-scale projects, madly modern, with expenses slashed by 30 percent or more.
Kagan joined forces with Nimmo, and the first houses they did together—sleek and versatile, about a mile northeast of downtown—were sold before the final work was finished.
Now Nimmo is designing the Old Range residence in Preston Hollow for the Kagan family. The two of them also are testing new ideas of density in their early territory near the
central city, with four small houses on stilts on a single lot. Why the rush now to clean, spare lines, born more of Sparta than of Athens? Because, says Nimmo, “The economy
shook things up. It changed people’s outlook. Their values changed. They wanted something. . .more authentic, that will last longer. They wanted the real reason behind things. They
were looking for more depth. The values of fluff were gone.” “We got more honest with ourselves,” he adds. “It made us reevaluate. It did for me.”