Dallas has several museums and concert halls that would be the envy of any city, but until now they've seemed more like standalone monuments than elements of a city center. Two new venues opening this Sunday have transformed downtown, "giving the area the cultural stature Dallas has long been craving," says New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff. The new institutions are in diametrically opposed styles: one is a traditional opera house by Norman Foster, the other an avant-garde theater begun—but not finished—by Rem Koolhaas.
The Wyly Theater, finished by Koolhaas protégé Joshua Prince-Ramus after he quit to start his own firm, is a hulking aluminum box with the performance space buried in the ground, "an effective architectural trick" that inverts "the neo-Classical grand staircase." It's quite a contrast with the Winspear Opera House, which Foster conceived as the wedding-cake Paris Opera repackaged in a cool glass box. "One cautiously experimental, the other more backward looking," the two make a case for Dallas as one of the country's cultural hotspots.