Mary Candace Evans On A New Building Code, Furniture By Manheim-Ruseau, and More

From building codes to property values, keep informed of the latest in Dallas’ design and architecture industry.


Dumb & Dumber
That’s what local architects say about a new city building code for “accessory structures.”

If you wish to add a cabana, greenhouse, pool, or guesthouse to your property, you may need an attorney more than you’ll need the additions. Last May, the Dallas City Council amended building codes to permanently control “accessory structures,” meaning any permanent backyard building larger than 200 square feet. The new limits: height must be equal to or shorter than the main building; total floor area is limited to a quarter of the main building’s floor area (total out buildings combined must be no more than 50 percent of the main building’s floor area); exterior siding, roofing, roof pitch, foundation fascia, and windows must be compatible with the main building – compatible meaning similar in application, color, materials, pattern, and quality. It doesn’t have to be identical, but the city’s plan review guru gets to determine compliance. What this means, architects tell me, is that if you have a Tudor-style house built in 1929 of brick, you have to match every detail of that home – the style, color, pitch, and materials, even the windows – and will be forced to build a Tudor-style pool house. Oh, and by the way, you will no longer be permitted to lease out your matchy-matchy accessory structure. That, too, appears in the new building code.

How did this ruling happen?

As with so many things in Dallas, it all started with money. People grew concerned that backyard buildings would damage property and neighborhood values.

The move, plus the Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee’s (ZOAC) approval of the Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay in late July, has many local architects steaming over their blueprints:

“This is a horrible violation of people’s rights,” says architect Richard Drummond Davis. “A municipality should not be determining taste and design. This is a total infringement on property rights.”

“I think this is an assault on the architectural equivalent of freedom of speech,” says architect Max Levy. “Shall we give the city veto power over what artwork the DMA acquires? Should the city approve what music the Dallas Symphony performs? The building department’s job is to protect our safety and welfare through building setbacks and technical matters – wiring, plumbing, and construction. But they simply are not qualified to officiate over aesthetics. In someone’s backyard no less.”

“This is foolish. The city is meddling with design, which it has have no right to do unless it’s a historic district,” says architect Bill Booziotis. “It’s impossible to legislate good design, which is clearly what they are trying to do.” Booziotis recalls a recent project in which he designed a guest home/art gallery for one prominent Dallas couple who have bequeathed their multimillion dollar modern art collection to the DMA. Their home is a red brick colonial on an enormous Bluffview lot. Booziotis says he used a green slate facade to meld the structure into the landscape. “We wanted it to be a part of the garden. It’s designed to be hidden. Under this new code, we could never have built the guesthouse as it is. It would have to have been a red brick colonial.”

“I guess you don’t need architects anymore,” says architect Russell Buchanan. “Just write ’match existing conditions.’ What business does the city have to tell anyone how they should design their building? They’re taking design freedom away from the homeowners and architects. Please note both ZOAC and the Neighborhood Stabilization Committee recommended against this. It’s just stupid.”



Senior Designer, John Phifer Marrs Dallas

HOT: A truly “collected” look: classic accessories with history from estate sales and antique stores, well-priced to boot.

NOT: Fifties and ’60s items. It was bad design then, why bring it back?

Jackson’s Squared

As if it’s not hot enough, it’s time to start thinking about fireplaces for fall, inside and out. Jackson’s Lemmon Avenue Pottery spent its summer vacation unpacking cartons of grills, tools, ornamental screens, glass doors, and enormous gas logs into 12,500 square feet of new space for its expanded fireplace, grill, and patio furniture showroom on Lemmon Avenue. Basically, you’ll find everything imaginable for your outdoor living area except the moon, including Outdoor Lifestyles, DCS, Pavillion, Summer Classics, Viking, Capital, PGS, and Weber.



Family Affair


Manheim-Ruseau’s new Revisions Collection is Deco-inspired.

Furniture produced locally by Manheim-Ruseau, available at David Sutherland Showroom, has a clientele list and history that reads like “Who’s Who in Interior Design.” For more than 70 years the company has served designers such as William Hodgins, Sister Parrish, Mark Hampton, and Victor Shargai. Manheim-Ruseau furniture was in Donald Trump’s home when he was with Ivana; it’s in the homes locally of Gene and Jerry Jones, the Perot family, and Trammel Crow. It’s also been ordered up by local designers like Sherry Hayslip, Paul Garzotto, and Woods & Butler to name a few, says company president Jaime Brown.

In collaboration with designer Jeffrey M. Swiggart, Brown recently launched the Revisions Collection. Deco-inspired from the company’s vast archives of more than 2,500 custom designs, the line was a bold move away from the company’s traditional look, but it was a step Brown felt was needed for the future. “Graceful curves and clean lines,” he says, “are where we feel the world is headed.”

M-R’s roots go back to 1932, when Don Ruseau opened an antique import store in New York City. The demand for antiques became so strong that he opened a reproduction facility that his partner, Jane Templeton, continued to operate and grow after he died. Eventually her son took over the company. Meanwhile, Manheim Companies, a manufacturer of English reproduction pieces, combined with Ruseau in the mid-’90s, and Ruseau moved facilities to Dallas not long thereafter. In 2002, Jaime Brown bought the Manheim Companies, forming Manheim-Ruseau, and the company came back into the family fold. How, you ask? Jamie Brown is Jane Templeton’s grandson.