Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Downtown Dallas skyscraper from the 1970s was once a trendsetter and could ... - Dallas Morning News (blog)

Two Dallas Centre had two hexagon-shaped towers planned but never got off the ground. One Dallas Centre was started in 1977 and sits at the back of the block. The smaller building was to be a hotel or residential. (DMN files)

New plans to redevelop Downtown Dallas’ 34-year-old Patriot Tower show just how quickly property market trends change.

Encore Enterprises intends to turn the top two-thirds of the 30-story Bryan Street office building into residential space. The bottom floors will be remodeled as offices for HKS Inc. and Greyhound.

The City of Dallas’ economic development committee approved support for the deal on Monday and it’s headed to the city council for a final vote next week.

So far there’s no plan to dramatically change the exterior of the building, which was designed by I. M. Pei & Partners principal Henry Cobb.

Cobb also designed the nearby Arco building (now Energy Plaza) and Fountain Place on Ross Avenue.

I’m glad that the exterior of Patriot Tower â€" originally One Dallas Centre â€" won’t be destroyed.

The metal and glass-clad, diamond-shaped building helped set a trend in downtown Dallas starting in the late 1970s to use world-class architects.

Original architectural drawing for One Dallas Centre. (DMN files)

Dallas Centre was conceived by developer Vincent Carrozza, a thoughtful and creative commercial builder who is largely forgotten these days.

A New Yorker who came to Dallas in the 1950s, Carrozza worked on local landmark projects including One Main Place and Energy Square. And he was a tireless supporter of the Dallas Museum of Art.

But his grandest project was Dallas Centre, which was to take up a huge block at Live Oak and St. Paul Street.

After Pei designed Dallas’ new city hall, Carrozza hired the firm in 1977 to work on this big project.

Original plans called for two office skyscrapers, a hotel and residential space with ground floor retail. The $200 million project was planned with unique building shapes â€" a big change from the boxy skyscrapers than dominated the city’s skyline.

“Our American cities have become filled with retangular boxes,” Cobb said before ground breaking. “We have deliberately used the tower concept here to show a high-rise does not have to be rectangular.”

A second even larger tower designed by Cobb was to be built in a chevron shape.

While One Dallas Centre opened to great success, the vagaries of the real estate market derailed the rest of the project.

In 1982, Carrozza unveiled a revamped version of the second phase â€" a 52-story tower designed by architect Araldo Cossutta. This skyscraper had two hexagon-shaped towers joined at the middle like a giant “H.”

Carrozza obtained financing for the $215 million building, but another real estate downturn hit before he could start work.

And so One Dallas Centre became a singleton.

Carrozza sold out of the project years ago.

In recent years the tower had a harder time attracting tenants away from newer projects in downtown and Uptown. And in 2011 lenders foreclosed on the building.

With support from the City of Dallas in tax incentives and an economic grant, the current redevelopment plan will keep the project going for years more.

Would someone please change the name back to Dallas Centre?

Carrozza (left), Cobb and urban planner Vincent Ponte at the 1977 announcement of the Dallas Centre project. (DMN files)

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