Thursday, May 17, 2012
Dougherty Arts Center Will Close - Marshall Jones, Culturemap
Dougherty Arts Center demolition inevitable: Austin may not fund a new facility
05.16.12 | 07:30 am
The Dougherty Arts Center (better known as "The DAC") could be the next Austin landmark to face the wrecking ball. And it's going to happen sooner, rather than later.
What is not yet clear is whether the city will support rebuilding the popular hub, either at its current location — a long shot due to serious environmental problems — or somewhere else, taking a decades-old resource out of central Austin.
The DAC is just on the 78704 side of Lady Bird Lake, on Barton Springs road between the old Union Pacific railroad tracks and the new Palmer Events Center. Originally built as a U.S. Marine Corps and Navy Reserve facility back in the 1940s, the building is like thousands of other prefabricated, metal boxes built for the military immediately following WWII — cramped and not especially attractive.
But after the city took it over in 1978, the surrounding community made the most of the space, naming it for philanthropist and former Junior League of Austin president Mary Ireland Graves Dougherty and augmenting the old training center with studio and gallery space.
Just a few years after the abandoned National Guard armory down the street was reborn as the Armadillo World Headquarters, the postwar Naval Reserve building became a 26,200 square-foot community arts center with a 150-seat auditorium where the drill hall used to be.
If someone made a list of every class, performance, camp and concert that has taken place here over the years, it wouldn't fit into one of the tiny upstairs offices.
But the Dougherty Arts Center's fatal flaws aren't about the cramped quarters; they're about safety.
A 2009 State of the Environment study produced by the City of Austin reported there are more than 70 known abandoned landfills in and around the city.
One of them is directly under the Dougherty Arts Center.