Leonardo Gonzalez has the swankiest digs of all. That’s
because he’s with HKS in One Dallas Center. While he works
in an open setting himself, there are plenty of cozy places
to repair to for a private conversation, though on Saturday
afternoon there’s no one to intrude except the security guard.
Gonzalez came to Dallas from the Savannah College
of Arts and Design. The “huge trees” there, dripping with
Spanish moss, spreading “immense shade” over the hot
Southern streets, were a shock after megalopolitan Mexico
City, where he grew up. He joined HOK, which soon shut
down its Dallas office, sending Gonzalez and some of his
compatriots into a great fever of invention. They created
Work Architecture and were happily busy until the crash
Plowing out from under the rubble, Gonzalez found
his way to HKS and also helped a colleague from Work
Architecture, Brent Brown, set up the Design Studio at City
Hall, where Gonzalez still volunteers. Most of his daylight
hours, however, go to the making of schools, mainly for
Uplift Education, a charter operation reminiscent of the
Community College District in its commitment to good
architecture. Flooding a warehouse with sunshine from
skylights overhead, breaking brick facades with playful
corrugated metal panels, painting walls lime green, wrapping
a roofline with a screen of bright blue—all this he has done to
bring learning to life and life to learning.
On his own time, however, Gonzalez designs houses.
One on Glenwood, not far, no doubt, from an early triumph
of Werner and Field, rises from a basement garage to three
stories, with a deck on top. Draped in Ipe, white stucco, and
glass, it’s a duplex, but you’d never know it. There is a unifying
principle in the work of Gonzales and that is simplicity,
articulating only the most important points. Another, on
Mockingbird Lane just west of Hillcrest, is a glass creation
with an L-shaped façade in white stucco called the “sugar
cube.” I’ve admired it for many months. How lovely now to
know the source.
How lovely, too, to see so much creative energy in Dallas
despite the worst the fates could do to dismember it. Some
achieve character. Some have character thrust upon them.
This gang of seven is loaded with character, acquired in crisis
and coupled with knowing confidence and the irresistible
style of survivors. P
The “sugar cube” is a noteworthy project designed by Leonardo Gonzalez.