Bird’s Fort Cultural Center

A respite in history


Viridian Municipal Management District


Arlington, Texas


20,600 sq ft


Learning, Public, Cultural

Project Team

Named after the general who established it in 1841, Bird’s Fort once stood along the crescent of Calloway Lake in North Arlington, Texas. The original stockades and blockhouses of the settlement have long disappeared but the gravity of its history endures as a site representing a microcosm of this nation’s treatment of its indigenous people. Through a reimagining of its lost structures and an honest portrayal of its history against the backdrop of its native landscape, the new Bird’s Fort Cultural Center will honor the past by creating a place for rediscovery.

Calloway Lake
Calloway Lake
Bird's Fort original site
Bird's Fort original site
Bird's Fort context and site plans
Bird's Fort context and site plans

Set along the suburban edge of the forested site, the cultural center is cloaked by a series of vertical, weathered logs mimicking the traditional fortification of the stockade and a blockhouse perched upon the wall. These walls enclose the outdoor entry yard, welcoming visitors to the center through a space representative of the historic structure. Once inside, the main hall guides visitors from the reception area through an array of interactive and educational exhibits along a central linear space, supported by classrooms and event spaces with views of Calloway Lake.

Stockade view from parking lot
Wood logs of varying diameters with beveled tops are orientated vertically along the perimeter of the Center as a nod to the historical construction
The stockage
Guests enter through the stockade with a traditional blockhouse
East and west elevations
East and west elevations
Building section
Section cut through the building shows the relationships and connections between the public exhibit hall, classrooms, and rooftop terrace
Rooftop terrace
Shaded with an intricate, sculptural wood and steel canopy, the rooftop terrace visually connects visitors to the verdant site and the Fort Worth skyline beyond

Above the main exhibit hall is the rooftop terrace, shaded with an intricate, sculptural wood and steel canopy, and visually connecting visitors to the verdant site and Fort Worth skyline beyond. This terrace also allows diffused sunlight to flow into the exhibit hall below during the day and lights the canopy from below at night to glow like a beacon across the site.

Exhibition hall
Flexible, immersive and interactive exhibits are featured throughout the Exhibition Hall
View of chapel from Calloway Lake
Path along the sculptural water channel takes visitors to the chapel
Path along the sculptural water channel takes visitors to the chapel

Passing through the exhibit hall, visitors embark on a journey through the site that begins with a reimagined and deconstructed blockhouse and stockade, contrasting with the traditional structures at the entry. Visitors are led through the forest on a path defined by a sculptural channel, guiding them through this urban refuge through the sound and movement of water. Along this journey are quiet moments of individual discovery and outdoor gathering spaces gently shaped into the landscape, including the ruins of the original fort. At the terminus of the channel, a chapel sits along the edge of the water, solemnly marking the end of the journey.

Elevation sketch by Eddie Jones
Elevation sketch by Eddie Jones
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