Web Site Parodies Dallas' Convention Center Hotel

Baroque elegance contrasts with the geometric bank-like structure of reality

Visitors who stumble upon a new Web site hyping the Dallas Convention Center Hotel might be forgiven for thinking they had found an official city document promoting the development of said hotel.

The splash page is somewhat minimal compared to the kludgy mess of Flash teasers, 3D panoramas, and bulky .PDF files you might expect from such a huge undertaking, but it is elegant and aesthetically professional nonetheless.

The blocks of soothing copy, the splash image of ornate, Baroque marblework, the small thumbnail of an optimistically shiny concept building, the cool and muted color scheme – all conduce to a mood of municipal confidence and gravity. That’s when you actually start reading, of course.

“The hotel is a 22-story structure built to embody the image of some of the greatest Federal Buildings in the country,” the copy on the main page proudly notes. Hmmmm. Well, there are some lovely Federal Buildings, after all -- even excluding the old Neoclassical greats, if you can get in on the new kitschy nostalgia for Brutalism -– but that seems a little too quirky for the city of Dallas.

“We'll make your experience memorable,” the site goes on to promise, “and provide a variety of official forms for you to file in case we don't live up to your expectations.” Aha, we just may have found ourselves a parody site.

The parody hotel site is the brainchild of Allen Gwin, proprietor of the larger Dallas.org site -- a blog and forum about Dallas that he has apparently been publishing for almost 10 years. One assumes that Gwin nabbed the domain back in the heady days when the shaggy, slow-moving beasts of traditional government and media were still dismissing the Web as a fad like CB radio, and not bothering themselves about securing domain names.

The parodic thrust of the site mainly centers around the potential waste and inefficiencies many associate with the project, due to its government-sponsored nature: “To keep you safe, and generate city revenue, our hotel is staffed by no fewer than 47 Dallas Police Officers,” notes the Security subpage. The motto at the top puts it succinctly: “Luxury and Elegance With The Bureaucracy You Would Expect.”

It remains to be seen what sort of attitude the city will take if this groundswell of skepticism towards the Convention Center Hotel continues to build.

Holly is a Dallas journalist who has written and worked for various area publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

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