These Five I.M. Pei Designs Shaped Dallas’ Skyline.
Iconic architect IM Pei left a lasting mark on the world – and especially in Dallas – before he passed away at the age of 102.
IM Pei, a true giant of architecture, died Thursday at the admirable age of 102. His will will no doubt be a life to be remembered: Pei leaves behind a portfolio of some of the most iconic modernist buildings in the world.
He also leaves a particularly indelible mark on Dallas, where five of his designs are part of the city center: Dallas City Hall, One Dallas Center, Energy Plaza, Fountain Place and Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
Only New York City and Boston are among the more than 70 major projects that Pei has designed over the course of his 60-year career.
Pei’s relationship with Dallas began at the age of 60, about 35 designs in his career, when the architect was hired by Mayor J. Erik Jonsson to whip up a design for Dallas City Hall that could help the city even more than To overcome an image a decade away After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the city in 1963. The building was completed in 1977 and looks classic Pei – concrete and sharp-edged.
That initial local effort would be followed by four more Dallas projects – most notably Fountain Place, which cuts the glass and the sky, and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, anchored in the Arts District. While the latter would be Pei’s final architectural contribution to Dallas, it wasn’t the end of his local influence: in 1989, the same year the Meyerson opened, Pei unveiled what is probably the most famous monument, the entrance to the glass pyramid, The Louvre in Paris; It’s safe to say that this design has clearly influenced the similar pyramidal entrance since it was built outside of the Renaissance Tower in downtown Dallas.
Not far from Dallas, the only residential structure Pei ever designed is in Fort Worth – a fact noted by Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster in what was perhaps justifiably a lukewarm time after Pei’s prolific career.
His designs may not have erased the memory of Dallas’ darkest moment, no. But cold and ubiquitous as Pei’s aesthetic was, there is no doubt that it set the table for the sassy and apologetic Dallas skyline that we all love today.
So below, let’s review Pei’s five contributions to Dallas architectural identity.
Dallas City Hall (1977)
Pei’s first contribution to the architecture of Dallas, the city’s eye-catching political center, was memorably immortalized 10 years after its construction in the RoboCop, which was shot in 1987 in Dallas.
One Dallas Center (1979)
Pei’s second building in Dallas is probably his least noteworthy. These days it is known as the Patriot Tower.
Energy Plaza (1983)
At 192 meters tall, Pei’s second tallest building in Dallas was stylistically not too different from his earlier efforts. (It’s a split building on the left in the photo below.)
At 219.5 meters tall, the fifth tallest current skyscraper in Dallas is Pei’s longest-reaching building in the city. It was named after the 172 fountains at its base, which were apparently designed by the same company that later designed the famous fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
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Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (1989)
Pei’s final building in Dallas would have the architect revert to the same heavy concrete look he came out with.
Cover image of Fountain Place by Justin Terveen.