Fountain Place Wins 25-Year Award

Since its completion in 1986, Fountain Place in downtown Dallas has been praised for both the geometrical precision of its 60-story tower clad in green glass and the extraordinary six-acre urban space that unfurls at its base. Originally known as the Allied Bank Tower at Fountain Place and designed by I.M. Pei and Partners with landscape architect Dan Kiley.

Fountain Place

The annual award recognizes one building completed 25 to 50 years earlier that has stood the test of time by retaining its central form, character, and overall architectural integrity. The award will be presented on Oct. 28 in Dallas during the convention’s first general session.

A panel of five judges reviewed seven nominations before unanimously selecting Fountain Place during a teleconference held on July 6. Members of the jury were Dan Hart, president of the Society; Ray Bailey, FAIA, 2010 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Medal; Sarah M. Whiting, Assoc. AIA, dean of Rice University’s School of Architecture; Michael Malone, chair of the Design Committee; and Stephen Sharpe, editor of Texas Architect.

Jury comments following the selection highlighted the building’s elegant sculptural quality, its dynamism as an object when viewed from different perspectives, and its magnetic attraction as a public space activated by lush gardens and water features.

Fountain Place was nominated by AIA Dallas. The chapter’s submittal included a cover letter that stated: “The Allied Bank Tower at Fountain Place is not only the most extraordinary tall building built in Texas during the 1980s, it is one of the great skyscrapers in America built in the second half of the twentieth century. Since its completion in 1986, it has emerged as the signature element of the Dallas skyline. Its glittering, prismatic form is balanced by a profoundly humanistic achievement at its base: a six-acre plaza and water garden that has been acclaimed as one of the great urban landscapes in America.”

In a profile of building published in the July/August 1987 edition of Texas Architect, Dan Kiley (who died in 2004 at age 91) recalled how the idea of a waterscape came to him immediately while visiting the site with architects Harry Weese and Harry Cobb of I.M. Pei and Partners: “I looked around and said, ‘It shall be all water. I saw it right away that I wanted it to be a place where people would walk on the water and be a part of the design, instead of just looking at water.”

Kiley said in the interview that the “hardness” of downtown Dallas caused him to reject his initial idea of paving with groups of trees.

Originally planned as a pair of buildings, the second structure was never erected. The building’s owner, Criswell Development, is no longer in business.

In his comments, juror Malone mentioned that the fact that the second building is missing does not affect how people perceive Fountain Place. “It’s hard to know how successful it would have been if both buildings were there,” he said, continuing, “if it would have lost some of the drama or if it would have been stronger.”

by: Stephen Sharpe, Hon. TSA

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