• The white metal screen begins as perforated panels at ground level and transitions to solid panels for the upper levels. - photo by Robert Tsai

An iconic metal screen defines Virgin Hotels Dallas.

Client Dunhill Partners
Architect 5G Studio Collaborative
Contractor Andres Construction Services
Landscape Architect SWA Group
Structural Engineer Viewtech
MEP Engineer Jordan & Skala Engineers
Civil Engineer Stantec Consulting Services
Interior Design Joel Mozersky Design; SWOON, the studio; Ink + Oro Creatives
Lighting Design Paul Helms Design Consultants
Waterproofing Consultant Amodal

Virgin Hotels Dallas began as a part of a larger plan for the area when the largest property owner in the Dallas Design District identified its site as a location for guest lodging. Historically known for its showrooms, galleries, warehouses, and other low-rise structures, the area has experienced change in recent years as multifamily developments and upscale restaurants started to populate the area. Virgin Hotels Dallas is an evolution of this growth but stands out above its surrounding context not only in scale but also in its programmatic response to context and through the thoughtful use of materials. The project is located at the intersection of Turtle Creek Boulevard and Hi Line Drive, with its proximity to the Trinity Strand Trail offering easy access to hotel visitors wanting to enjoy nature. 

Upon approach, the hotel’s bright white metal facade, with its micro and macro apertures, creates a stark contrast to the other buildings in the district. From this taut facade emerges a thin-profiled canopy that cantilevers toward Hi Line Drive to welcome guests onto the property. Nearby, a generous outdoor deck spills out toward the street as a continuation of the Commons Club, the hotel’s restaurant and bar. This ground-level preview sets up much of what is to come in terms of the blending of inside and outside through carefully crafted outdoor spaces. 

Once inside, visitors are met with a playful display of colors and textures. From the signature red in the doors and lobby rug to the gold of the welcome desk and metals throughout, a sense of sophisticated fun permeates the ground floor. Exploring the level further, visitors discover a uniquely appointed sequence of spaces including the Funny Library Coffee Shop, Shag Room lounge, and the restaurant dining area. Each of these elements reflects an individual spirit while harmonizing to create a cohesive whole.

Above the ground floor, the facade’s diamond-patterned veil of perforated metal corresponds to the hotel’s two levels of parking, which can hold approximately 190 cars. The height of this garage is calibrated to allow for the program above it — the amenity deck and hotel room floors — to have views over the surrounding buildings to the skyline beyond. The perforated metal screen gently touches the ground at strategic places. According to Yen Ong, AIA, founding partner at 5G Studio Collaborative, this was to allow visitors to experience and interact with the metal screen. At the amenity deck on Level Four, large swaths of the screen are removed to frame views of the city. These openings introduce an unexpected exception to the “rules” established at the lower levels of the facade: Rather than strictly adhering to the rigid diamond grid of the metal panels, the openings follow lines that consistently hit the same points along the diamond grid before meeting at radiused corners.

The amenity deck houses the Pool Club, which features a large bar leading to an open-air terrace and adjacent pool, a popular location for hotel guests and public events. Surrounded by cabañas and umbrellas with the downtown skyline serving as a backdrop, the pool is perhaps the best place in the hotel for Dallas selfies. Beyond the pool, a shaded and semi-enclosed outdoor deck serves as an extension of the pre-function space for the hotel’s ballroom. From this location, secondary materials are more easily visible as they rise up on the less public side of the hotel tower. Gray EIFS mirrors the white metal screen, while a dark manganese ironspot face brick does the work of cladding secondary and back-of-house surfaces in other locations. The brick, a nod to the surrounding context, contains enough sheen to complement the pearly white of the metal screen. The most prominent corner of this floor is reserved as event space, and its large, curved curtain wall, in straight facets, offers additional views of the city. It is also on this level that a semi-continuous path around the perimeter of the floor creates an almost porch-like experience in which visitors are shielded from the elements and views out are framed by the ever-present metal screen. Having started as aluminum perforated panels within an aluminum support structure on the ground floor, the screen transitions at the upper levels into a solid diamond pattern of aluminum composite panels.

Rising above the amenity deck, the hotel room floors begin following a “V” shape in plan. This form is due in part to the property’s site constraints, but it also points room views in the desired direction. At these upper levels, the metal screen is punctuated only by a regular grid of rectangular room windows and curvilinear balconies on the east corner of the building. The 268 hotel rooms — or “chambers,” as they are known at Virgin Hotels — are cleverly designed with an efficient yet energetic layout. The uppermost room at this corner enjoys the best views of downtown and is named “Sir Richard’s Flat” after the hotel chain’s founder, Richard Branson. 

Virgin Hotels Dallas has served as a catalyst for the district, as evidenced by the 28-story tower currently under construction across the street. 5G Studio Collaborative is serving as architect on the residential apartment building, and Amsterdam-based Concrete as designer. It is encouraging to witness how Virgin Hotels Dallas, with its innovative facade system and ground-level activation at a prominent corner, is contributing to the transformation of this part of Dallas into a vibrant and walkable district. 

Ricardo A. Muñoz, AIA, is an associate principal at Page in Dallas.

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