Of all the buildings in Dallas, none has been so consistently misunderstood, mistreated, misused, mismanaged, maligned and generally neglected as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kalita Humphreys Theater.
It is a sorry treatment that began before this landmark structure was even completed, in 1959, and has pretty much continued unabated ever since. Even this paper has been guilty of defamation. After one of the many unfortunate renovations inflicted upon the theater over the years, my predecessor as architecture critic bemoaned it as a “forlorn ammonite in a sea of asphalt.”
Let me suggest a more generous reading.
The Kalita, which became a city landmark in 2005, is an iconic late work by America’s most singular architect; a masterpiece of structural daring wedged with care into a verdant landscape; and an enveloping jewel that promotes innovative theatrical productions. At least this is how it was conceived, and in many ways how it remains, although its attributes have been veiled and sometimes erased by decades of accumulated degradation, in both the physical and figurative senses.