Behind The Architecture of the Dallas Skyline



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Dallas’ skyline has become the magnificent city it is today thanks to architects such as I.M. Pei, Edward Larrabee Barnes, Renzo Piano, Richard Keating and Norman Foster. These buildings that line The Dallas Arts District and surrounding areas have created the iconic Dallas skyline that we all have come to know and love. Curious the history behind it? Let’s explore the noteworthy architects that have crafted our iconic skyline.


1 ) Museum Tower

Architect: Scott Johnson


Scott Johnson is the Founder and Design Partner of Johnson Fain, a Los Angeles based firm that provides design services worldwide. Known for his modern and project-specific designs, some of his known work includes the MGM Tower in LA, Leo Palace Resort in the Mariana Islands, and Opus One Winery in Napa Valley.


When Scott was asked to design Dallas’ skyscraper, the Museum Tower, he knew that he would be creating an iconic addition to the Dallas skyline. When he entered into the design process, he set out with a goal to complement the architecture in the surrounding neighborhood. This 42-story residential tower is elegant, modern, wrapped by broad and curving glass sails, and was completed in 2012. It is certainly a crown jewel among the Dallas skyline.

2 ) Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center

Architect: I.M. Pei


As some would say, I.M. Pei built the Dallas skyline. He has designed some of Dallas’ most remarkable structures including Dallas City Hall, One Dallas Center, Energy Plaza, Fountain Place and Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The Meyerson Symphony Center, completed in 1989, was Pei’s first commission on a musical auditorium, and is ranked one of the world’s greatest orchestra halls. He designed this structure collaborating with acoustician Russell Johnson to achieve the highest acoustical quality.


This $106 million dollar structure is complex and contradictory, yet very likable, and has become a highly recognizable building in Downtown Dallas. Its mix of sharp lines and curves paired with walls of windows makes it a distinguishable member of the Dallas skyline.

3 ) Texas Commerce Tower

Architect: Richard Keating


The Texas Commerce Tower, or Chase Tower, stands 55 stories tall and is renowned by its illuminated blue square at the top of the building. This purposeful 75 foot high, 27 foot wide, and 80 foot deep hole is hard to miss. In addition to this feature, it is the only building in the Dallas skyline with a barrel top. It was designed by well-known architect Richard Keating with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.


Richard Keating was a graduate from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Architectural History. After spending a year on an excavation in Greece, he gained an interest in high rise buildings. He went back to school and got his PhD before starting work with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago. Projects he completed with SOM included the Texas Commerce Center, Trammell Crow Center, and Renaissance Tower. After 23 years with SOM, he left in 1990 to start his own firm. He became known as an “architect’s architect” by really understanding what the developer was looking for and brought high design integrity and beneficial cost results to all of his projects.

4 ) Fountain Place

Architect: I.M. Pei


I.M. Pei was also the architect behind the iconic Fountain Place building. This 60-story triangular building has over 26,000 windows and is one of the heaviest buildings of its size. It has over 42,000 tons of steel from the 5th floor down. The Fountain Plaza Central Fountain has 217 water jets and was designed by Dan Kiley, the same landscape architect that designed the surrounding at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. This tower has served as an anchor for Downtown Dallas’ revitalization since its opening in 1986.



5 ) AT&T Performing Arts Center

Architects: Joshua Prince-Ramus, Norman Foster, Spencer de Grey


A red-topped gem of Dallas, the AT&T Performing Arts Center is hard to miss. It is located just beside the Woodall Rodgers Freeway and is home to the Winspear Opera House, Dee and Charles Wyly Theater, Annette Strauss Square and Sammons Park. Architects Joshua Price-Ramus, Norman Foster, and Spencer de Grey took on the project in 2005, and completed it in 2009.


Joshua Prince-Ramus is Principal at architecture and design firm, REX. He previously worked at Koolhaas’s OMA before leaving to come to REX, and has been named one of the most promising young architects working today. Norman Foster, founder of Foster + Partners, practices design and architecture internationally. Other projects he has worked on include the Hearst Tower, London City Hall, 30 St. Mary Axe, and Apple Campus in California. Spencer de Grey is Head of Design at Foster + Partners and has worked on Commerzbank Headquarters, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Stansted Airport, in addition to AT&T Performing Arts Center.

6 ) Trammell Crow Center

Architect: Richard Keating


This square-shaped building of granite and glass culminating to its iconic pyramid-shaped top is one of Dallas’ most recognizable building. Trammell Crow Center (TCC) was originally named the LTV Tower, but was renamed in honor of the founder of the developer, Trammell Crow, that built both this building and the Texas Commerce Tower. Keating was responsible not only for the architecture of TCC, and Texas Commerce Tower, but also the Renaissance Tower.


Trammell Crow Center is undergoing interior renovations that will include a new fitness center, retail and restaurant space and a modern lobby area. Buildings across Dallas are becoming more updated, but are maintaining the original architecture that has defined the skyline and made it the recognizable icon that it is today.





Top From left to right: Scott Johnson, I.M. Pei, Richard Keating, Joshua Prince-Ramus

Bottom From left to right: Norman Foster, Spencer de Grey