Light is the key

Posted on 08 Jan 2016 at 7:15am

Cox says new Resource Center building will be landmark for LGBT community

Resource-Center-(CeCe)

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox stands on the site of the future community center designed by local architect James Langford. (James Russell/Dallas Voice)

 

JAMES RUSSELL  |  Staff Writer

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox was on the second floor of the Resource Center’s new building, currently under construction, when she walked to a corner and stood against a beam.

“I think this is going to be my office,” said Cox, looking out onto what is still only a vast, open slate of concrete and metal beams.

But she’s seen the plans and raised the funds to get to this moment. Plus, she is the boss. She knows where everything will be.

And in just a few months, Cox will be looking out onto a busy new building for the region’s most well-known LGBT advocacy center.

“The drawing of the office space on the blueprint now includes the [actual location for the] furniture,” Cox said.

The 20,000-square-foot community center at the corner of Cedar Springs and Inwood, in front of the Cathedral of Hope, was designed by Dallas architect James Langford, a protégé of the legendary architect I.M. Pei, who also designed Dallas City Hall and the Meyerson Symphony Center.

Although Langford worked with Pei, his designs — including Northaven United Methodist Church — deviate from Pei’s brutalism.  But Pei’s believed that “light is the key,” and Pei’s use of natural light stuck with Langford.

Cox said she wasn’t concerned that there was a straight architect designing this building for an LGBT organization. What mattered, she said, was that in designing the building, he was passionate about commemorating LGBT history.

The building is triangular and both floors have a triangular floor pattern. It is an intentional nod to the pink triangle as a symbol of LGBT history.

“The new Resource Center building is making a statement locally and nationwide. The building’s design and the symbols were approached with great care by the architect,” said Ted Kincaid, a local gay artist who served as chair of the art acquisition committee for the new building.

Kincaid.ted-Atkinson.Steve

Ted Kincaid, left and Steve Atkinson.

The new center consolidates programs that are currently spread across three facilities. It is designed to accommodate many, but not all, of the center’s current programs. As the new home for social and support groups like Gray Pride as well as the center’s counseling partnership with Southern Methodist University, it offers large meeting and office spaces.

But Resource Center’s current 12,000-square-foot home at Reagan and Brown is not going away. It will be remodeled to consolidate HIV services, nutrition services and the food pantry.

The center is keeping the location for a number of reasons, Cox said, including the fact that the space is familiar to clients. But it is also historically significant to the region’s LGBT community.

The center was recently forced to change some plans when it lost the lease on the space where the food pantry is currently located. So staff accelerated the schedule, forcing renovation of the Reagan and Brown location to start early.

There was never any possibility necessary services like the food pantry would be halted. Cox credited the center’s staff for working around the inconveniences and ensuring sure clients still got the support they need.

“Plans have changed, but the building and renovations will be delightful,” Cox said.

“We don’t need the building to be fancy, but we need the space to be uplifting,” Cox added, noting that the move into the new building is scheduled for March.

Art to uplift
There’s also another new feature: art decorating the walls, including works by internationally renowned artists such as Kincaid, Denton’s Annette Lawrence and the late Felix González-Torres.

Cox asked Kincaid to head the art acquisition committee early in the campaign. He is close with Cox, but also well known for his public art projects. His work is in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Human Rights Campaign’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

After he accepted the position of chair of the art acquisition committee, Kincaid assembled a group he called his “dream team,” including collectors, curators and artists.

Every single person said yes.

“I wanted people to bring different things to the building,” Kincaid said. But there was one important thing: they did not want to spend one dime of funds raised on the art collection.

“The capital is about the resources,” Kincaid said.

The artists include David Aylsworth of Houston, Diedrick Brackens of San Francisco, Kelli Connell of Chicago, Gabriel Dawe of Dallas, Jay Shinn of Dallas and New York and the late John Wilcox of Dallas.

Kincaid said the work by Gonzalez-Torres, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1996, is on loan from the Rachofsky collection, one of the most well known collections of modern and contemporary Western art in the country.

Wilcox, who also died from AIDS-related complications, was one of the first artists to come to mind when selecting works.

Like the building, each work represents the past.

“You have to acknowledge the past, but the work can’t be all about it. You also have to look to the future,” Kincaid said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 8, 2016.

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