A Modern Architectural Masterpiece: Dallas City Hall

Dallas City Hall

The inverted pyramid design of Dallas City Hall stands proudly in Dallas’ city center. Built in the 1970s, its architecture is absolutely striking.

The Building: Dallas City Hall

Designed by architect I.M. Pei, Dallas City Hall was “constructed in 1977 extending over a site area of 11.8 acres. It has graciously stood the test of time for over 40 years and won many awards of excellence.”  – re-thinkingthefuture.com

Pei was quoted as saying “When you do a city hall, it has to convey an image of the people, and this had to represent the people of Dallas… The people I met – rich and poor, powerful and not so powerful – were all very proud of their city. They felt that Dallas was the greatest city there was, and I could not disappoint them.” – galinsky.com

Interestingly, “Beyond initial space issues, Pei also faced several challenges during the construction phase. He often had to defend his design before the City Council, as well as building companies and contractors, since he parted from traditional city hall architecture.

Concrete buildings were something of a new phenomenon in Dallas at the time, though Pei had created several before this project. For these contractors, exposed concrete was typically used for highways, bridges, and viaducts, not as a facing material for a building. But not only is concrete economical, it also results in a wonderfully minimal, seamless aesthetic. Confusion also trickled down among the general public, particularly about how the building, with its protruding top, would stand on its own.” – dallaslibrary2.org 

“Spanning an area two-blocks long and one-block wide, the seven-acre plaza is divided into two right triangles by a formed concrete tube that separates the vegetated segment on the east from its paired concrete plinth to the west. The eastern section is comprised of a flat expanse of lawn and a bosque of live oaks. A semi-circular arrangement of steps transitions the grade change between the lawn and the elevated concrete plaza.

The centerpiece of the buff-colored concrete plinth is a 180-foot diameter reflecting pool with a variable height fountain. Two floating red spherical sculptures that spin when activated by the wind were designed by artist Marta Pan and installed in 1978.

Designed in collaboration with Pei, sculptor Henry Moore’s three piece metallic abstracted vertebra ‘The Dallas Piece’ punctuates the plaza and contrasts with its strong formalism. Three 84-foot tall conical flagpoles are situated on the northwest corner of the plaza. Red oaks planted near the reflecting pool were recently replaced with Chinese pistache.” – tcfl.org


Fun Facts:

“The design of Dallas City Hall inspired the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library building located across the street – whereas the upper floors of City Hall are oriented toward Marilla Street, the upper floors of the Central Library are oriented away from Marilla (and, in a form of symmetry, away from City Hall).

The building features in the Robocop movies of the 1980s, as the Headquarters of the OCP company; special effects were employed to make the building appear taller than it is. [8][9]”  Wikipedia

“This building is the hub of city government and services hosts numerous festivals and special events at its broad plaza.” – visitdallas.com


Government District, Downtown Dallas

1500 Marilla St

Dallas, TX 75201

Learn more at: DallasCityHall.com


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For more inspiring Dallas architectural finds including the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Winspear Opera House, visit our blog here at Garciahubach.com.

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