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El Dorado: Accidental Preservationists

The talk by David Dowell, “El Dorado: Accidental Preservationists,” takes place in St. Louis and touches on the firm’s Midwestern ethos — pragmatic and frugal, with a commitment to allowing and cultivating risk — and their late 1990s opportunistic rehabilitations of dozens of turn-of-the-century landmarks as well as Art Deco and midcentury modern buildings. His lively talk addresses a key element of El Dorado’s formative works: integrating historic preservation along with architecture, urban design, fabrication and art

He joins a lineup including Michael Maltzan, landscape architect Julie Bargmann, artists Judith Barry and Kahlil Robert Irving, and philosopher Timothy Morton to speak as part of the much-anticipated public lecture series at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

For a source on new ways design firms are working and building, David Dowell, a partner at El Dorado in Kansas City, Mo., is a valuable resource. His collaborative firm’s focus merges social impact with the visual and tactile — in-house fabrication, for example, and textured, layered façades that employ everyday materials in surprising and often thrifty ways. In recent years, his youthful expert team at El Dorado has expanded into increasingly diverse and challenging commissions across the United States and overseas, living out the firm’s credo, “We chase big ideas in the middle of everywhere.”

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