Changing Dallas Skyline signals an era of rapid growth

In the northeast sector of downtown Dallas, new skyscrapers are exploding into the skyline almost as fast as Roman candles on July 4. One Dallas Centre, its angled diamond- and-chevron shape refreshingly rhythmic in a forest of glass towers, looks like a handsome piece of pie in the sky.

Designed by Henry J. Cobb of I. M. Pei & Partners for developer Vincent Carrozza, it is a 30-story Phase 1, to be followed by Two and Three Dallas Centres, which will incorporate more office space, a 500-room hotel, shopping malls, luxury apartments, roof garden, and tennis courts aimed at the city's thrust to bring the downtown alive again. These also are designed to cash in on the competitive push to provide fine quarters for the national and international commerce hastening to the city.

Its wide-terraced entry plaza, including a green belt with live oaks and sculptures, took into account the Dallas City Council's reflection of citizen determination to dig in its heels against an invasion of street- and sky-grabbing boxlike structures.

The council-manager government, wanting to cooperate with investors now flooding into this center for banking, insurance, legal, and accounting firms, as well as for real estate and oil, is moving warily to control traffic congestion and to keep the growth under control.

More vocal, too, are the preservation-inclined Dallasites about the dizzying developments which are shattering their accustomed downtown patterns, and downtown property owners' ploys, such as the midnight demolition of an old- timer on a major street.

Cadillac-Fairview of Canada turned loops to appease city council concerns regarding monolithic parking garages on the main downtown streets to accomodate its giant planned demolitions and developments on sites where generations of Dallasites have shopped.

Swiss interests on the west end of downtown buck less traffic congestion so far, but the action there is escalating rapidly around the restored Union Depot, Reunion Sports Arena, and silver-glassed Hyatt Regency Hotel.

"We don't want downtown to look like the Wall Street Canyon," says Councilman Joe Haggar, an old-timer but one of the new breed of councilmen.

The cranes and jackhammers have shoppers and workers picking their way around rubble, particularly in the northeast sector of the city, and projected plans zoom and dance and change on the boards like a kaleidoscope.

Around Dallas Centre, already partially connected to its neighboring towers by the eight blocks of planned sky bridges and under-street pedestrianways and malls, are the bronze, green-glass Diamond Shamrock Tower, its tapered brown concrete borders creating an optical illusion of tipping on the small lot it crowds.

It is a sister of Bryan Tower, whose giant ice-cube form is relieved by its muted color, surrounding cobbled sidewalks, handsome sculpture, and trees.

Off behind the center, the huge charcoal black Plaza of the Americas looms, its interior a world of the future with an ice- skating rink, elegant shops, dripping greenery from its many levels, and a European-style elegant hotel.Nearby rises the addition to Southland Center, part of which houses the Sheraton Hotel.

One Dallas Centre's banded-effect facade, two-thirds aluminum and one-third reflective glass butted by inner sealants for energy conservation, complements the gray- starred exterior motif of the across-the-street Republic National Bank , recently expanded on the site where once stood the late-lamented 1920s architecture of the Medical Arts Building.

Soon to rise a look away from Dallas Centre is Arco's new home, a "bold, pristine design (I. M. Pei & Associates) of 49 stories, stunning in its simplicity," scheduled for completion in 1982.

Like the sky-high prow of proudly sailing ship, One Dallas Centre, its angled position affording panoramic views, overlooks it all.

"Plunking a lot of box-shaped buildings into downtown tends to homogenize a city," says architect Cobb, recently appointed chairman of the architecture department at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Developer Carroza adds: "It's only an illusion that office buildings have to be certain shapes and sizes to function efficiently." Adding interest and additional office spaces with clear outside views are the triangular-shaped notches in two of Dallas Centre's four sides, Mr. Cobb's alternative to "projections" that would mar the structure's clean lines.

Inside, Dallas Centre's four sides, lobby is luring with its grown-up Alice-in Wonderland angles around bends, polished-steel columns rising from the warm almond-colored Italian terra cotta floors to the white ceiling.

Walls are adorned with two 200-square-foot tapestries: "Poppies" and "Bluebonnets," delicately depicting the Texas state flower despite its huge scale, and hand-woven by Swedish-born New York artist Helena Hernmarck.

Outside the lobby location of Deak-Perera, the foreign- currency exchange with 120 currencies available, is the "Bishop's Triad," a massive granite sculpture by Harvard visual arts professor Dimitri Hadzi.

In the trees at the west arcade, the wood-and-metal cactuslike sculpture of Texas artist James Surls intrigues passersby and lunch-seeking downtown workers.

Pushing the boundaries of downtown will be the new Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall, for which bonds were recently approved.

Not too far away, singles and retirees vie for the $130,000- and-up homes at Bryan Place, downtown housing venture of Fox & Jacobs, a restoration of a once-fine home area gone to seed, where new antique-brick homes with modern amenities cling to old-fashioned porch rails and neighborly proximity in their narrow street design.

To complete it all, Diamond Shamrock and Bryan Tower developer Trammell Crow is planning 500 to 700 condominium units in the vicinity, thus attracting even more people to downtown.

Clearly, Dallas never manages to stand still.

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