Reflections of 75 years of AIA Dallas
Over the last 75 years, AIA Dallas has grown to be the 6th largest chapter in the AIA. It is our volunteers and members whose leadership and dedication are the foundation of our chapter’s success. The highlights in this article reflect the events, projects, mentors, and friends that had the most influence and impact on me, and from my perspective, on the Chapter, the City of Dallas and North Texas.
- Zaida Basora, FAIA, Executive Director of AIA Dallas
The largest American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter in Texas has reached a major milestone, 75 years! During this, our Diamond anniversary, we are excited to share with you some highlights of our history in north Texas as well as a call for you to share your stories in our I AM AIA/Humans of AIA Dallas yearlong anniversary celebration.
As a member, I feel privileged to be leading the Chapter as Executive Director and to have this opportunity to look back at our heritage and forward to continuing our legacy of inspiration, community engagement, and transformation of not only of our main hub, Dallas, but also the north Texas region. North Texas is growing and thriving, and architecture is at the core of this continued evolution.
So, how did we get here? Let’s recount the people, places, and projects that have made us the advocates of architecture in north Texas for the betterment of our communities. Thank you to Transformations, The Architects, Buildings & Events that Shaped Dallas Architecture by Marcel Quimby, FAIA, Dennis Stacy, FAIA, and Willis Winters, FAIA for collecting our history, allowing me to borrow some text and the essence for the highlights shared below:
AIA was founded in 1857 with the goal of creating an architecture organization that would “promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members” and “elevate the standing of the profession.” Through the years, this mission has evolved but remains the core of why AIA is of value to the profession. In Dallas, the Dallas Society of Architects formed in 1911, the Dallas Architectural Club in 1920 (whose building artifacts we house at our home at the AD EX); and both merged into the AIA North Texas Chapter, created in 1924. Subsequently, the North Texas Chapter was divided into the Panhandle, Fort Worth, Northeast Texas, and Dallas chapters toward the end of 1946. We recognize January 1, 1947 as the official founding of AIA Dallas.
In context, the founding of our chapter was a couple of years after the end of WWII, which had resulted in a slowdown of construction in the early years of the decade due to shortages of construction materials and manpower. Notable buildings built in the 1940s include: Mercantile Bank Building (1942), Masonic Temple (1942), Dr. Pepper Headquarters (1946, demolished), and the Jas K Wilson store. Architects making their mark included George L. Dahl, FAIA, who served as President of the Texas Society of Architects in 1941 (first AIA Dallas member to do so) and J. Murrel Bennet, FAIA, who was the last president of the North Texas Chapter, became the first president of the AIA Dallas Chapter.
The 1950s began with vitality and a restart for construction activities post war. Twenty-five major buildings were constructed downtown including: Republic National Bank Tower (1954), current home of the AIA Dallas Chapter and a major highlight of the 1950s building boom; the Dallas Public Library (1955); the Statler Hilton Hotel (1956); the Dallas Municipal Building (1956); Temple Emanu-El (1957); and the Kalita Humphreys Theatre (1959). AIA Dallas began the Design Awards program in 1951. Notable local firms and architects of the decade included Jack M. Corgan, FAIA, who served as AIA Dallas president in 1950; Harris A Kemp, FAIA, who served as president in 1957; George F. Harrell, FAIA, president in 1958; George L. Dahl, FAIA, president in 1959; O’Neil Ford, FAIA; Enslie O. ‘Bud’ Oglesby, FAIA; Jim Wiley, FAIA; Richard Colley, Sam Zisman, Architects; Howard R. Meyer, Max M. Sandfield, William B. Wurster Architects; Mark Lemmon and Smith & Mills Architects; and Gill & Harrell Architects. Grayson Gill, FAIA served as president of the Texas Society of Architects in 1955, after having served as AIA Dallas president in 1954.
Our Chapter had great momentum moving into the 1960s—the city saw multiple types of significant developments: NorthPark Center (1965) which remains the number one visitor destination in North Texas; the Quadrangle (1966), the first mixed-use project in Dallas; two major downtown buildings: Main Place (1968) and First National Bank Building (1965, recently restored as The National); and the city of Dallas’ planning effort – Goals for Dallas. Mayor Erik Jonsson's Goals for Dallas initiative spurred the construction of DFW Airport, the Dallas Convention Center, the New Museum of Fine Arts, and Dallas City Hall. The program helped establish public school kindergartens, citywide family planning, the University of Texas at Dallas, several branch libraries, and neighborhood parks. One of the authors selected to write an essay was Pat Spillman, FAIA. A leader in AIA Dallas, Spillman was involved in the genesis of Goals for Dallas in an integral way, writing The Design of The City essay of the Plan. In 1967, AIA Dallas and the Greater Dallas Planning Council commissioned the “Walls are Rising” film to support and encourage development through awareness.
In 1962, Dallas hosted its first national AIA Convention and published The Prairie’s Yield architectural guidebook. Notable firms of this decade include: The Oglesby Group; Grayson Gill Architect; Harrell and Hamilton; Pratt, Box and Henderson; and Howard Meyer. George F. Harrell, FAIA served as Texas Society of Architects president in 1965. Some of the most remembered chapter presidents of the 1960s include: Howard Meyer, FAIA in 1961, Bud Oglesby, FAIA in 1963, E.G. Hamilton, FAIA in 1964, Pat Y. Spillman, FAIA in 1966, David R. Braden, FAIA in 1968, and James R. Pratt, FAIA in 1969.
The 1970s kept Dallas on the nation’s architectural map: Dallas Convention Center (1973) by Harrell and Hamilton architects, DFW Airport (1974) by HOK, I.M. Pei’s Dallas City Hall (1977), and the Hyatt Regency Hotel with its iconic Reunion Tower (1978) by Welton Becket are some of this decade’s notable projects. Las Colinas master-planned community opened in 1973. AIA Dallas hosted its second national AIA Convention in 1978, publishing Dallasights: An Anthology of Architecture and Open Spaces that same year.
In 1970, the AIA Dallas Awards program became an annual program, which had initially been a biennial program, and in 1974, AIA Dallas began the Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition. David Braden, FAIA, served as Texas Society of Architects president in 1975. Presidents whose names we still recognize to this day include: Donald E. Jarvis, FAIA in 1970, Howard C. Parker, FAIA—still an active friend of the Chapter!—in 1971, Harwood K. Smith, FAIA in 1972, Jack Craycroft, AIA in 1973, James A. Clutts, FAIA in 1974, Pat Y. Spillman, FAIA in 1975, and Reagan George, FAIA in 1977.
I arrived in Dallas on June 22, 1981. The 1980s are very much etched in my memory. A decade that brought Dallas to the rest of the world through the “Dallas” television show, and that marked the beginning of the massive move to Dallas and the prominence of Dallas’ downtown skyline. For Dallas architects, it was a time of activity and development “resulting in the largest building program that Dallas had experienced” until the first major economic downturn since the Chapter’s existence in 1986.
Sasaki Associates developed the plan for the Dallas Arts District, with the Dallas Museum of Art completed in 1984 and the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center completed in 1989. Other new downtown buildings included Energy Plaza (1983), Trammel Crow Center (1984), Chase Bank Tower (1984), Ross Tower (originally Lincoln Plaza in 1984), the Crescent Complex (1985), Bank of America tower (originally Interfirst Plaza in 1986), Chase Tower (originally MBank in 1987), and Fountain Place (1987), Galleria opened in north Dallas (1982), Lincoln Center (1982), Park West towers (1985), and the first phase of Cityplace (1988). Las Colinas saw some significant developments including the addition of Williams Square in 1981.
Notable firms and architects of this decade include: Larry Good, FAIA, who received the first chapter’s President’s Medal in 1980; O’Neil Ford, FAIA, who received the first AIA Dallas George Foster Harrell Award in 1981; Diane Collier, AIA, the first director of Dallas Women in Architecture in 1982; Willis Winters, FAIA, the first editor of the newly redesigned and expanded Columns newsletter, in 1983; JPJ Architects, the first Firm Award from AIA Dallas in 1986; HKS, Fisher Spillman Architects, and Corgan Associates. Stanley Marcus, Hon. AIA received the George Foster Harrell Award in 1986 and Erik J. Jonsson in 1989. James A. Clutts, FAIA, served as Texas Society of Architects president in 1987. The decade’s boom ended around 1986 and the economic recovery would not begin until the mid-1990s.
AIA Dallas Presidents included Velpeau E. Hawes, Jr., FAIA in 1982, Bill C. Booziotis, FAIA in 1983, Overton Shelmire, FAIA in 1984, Larry Good, FAIA in 1986, C. Jack Corgan, FAIA in 1987, and Bill D. Smith, FAIA in 1988.
In the 1990s, the City of Dallas encouraged investment in downtown and provided financial incentives for rehabilitation of historic buildings. The Kirby, the Titche–Goettinger, and the Wilson buildings were converted to lofts. Dallas Area Rapid Transit began operation in 1996 and the light rail system was a success with transit-oriented developments at many of the new stations. AIA Dallas hosted its third national AIA convention in 1999 and the same year issued The American Institute of Architects Guide to Dallas Architecture.
In 1990, AIA Dallas recognized the Texas Instruments Semi-Conductor Building by O’Neil Ford and Richard Colley architects (1961) with the first 25-Year Award. Bill D. Smith, FAIA served at Texas Society of Architects president in 1991, Marcel Quimby, FAIA became the first female AIA Dallas president in 1995, and Jan Gaede Blackmon, FAIA served as the first female president of the Texas Society of Architects in 1997. AIA Dallas awarded the George Foster Harrell award to Margaret McDermott in 1998, and the first Lifetime Achievement award to Harwood K. Smith, FAIA in 1999.
The positive economic climate of the 1990s continued into the late 2000s. The events of September 11th caused disruption nationwide, but the economy continued to expand in Dallas. Redevelopment in downtown Dallas was around several residential projects that added thousands of new residents to the urban core. The Victory development and American Airlines Center (2001), the Arts District’s new Nasher Sculpture Center (2003), Booker T. Washington’s Arts Magnet School rehabilitation (2008), and the Wyly and Winspear venues (2009) were all completed in this decade. The City of Dallas 1998, 2003, and 2006 bond programs funded the construction of numerous community facilities, including the City Performance Hall (now known as the Moody Performance Hall) and the renovation of the Municipal Building, which were both completed in 2012.
AIA Dallas presidents included: Duncan Fulton, III, FAIA in 1992, Ron Skaggs, FAIA in 1994, Marcel Quimby, FAIA in 1995, Dennis W. Stacy, FAIA in 1996, and Bryce Al Wiegand, FAIA in 1997. In 2000, Ron Skaggs, FAIA, was the first AIA Dallas member to serve as AIA National president.
In 2001, the Trinity River Advisory Committee was formed and led to the AIA Dallas leadership in the Trinity River Balanced Vision Plan, a leadership role that AIA Dallas continued well into the mid-2010s. The City of Dallas adopted the Forward Dallas! Comprehensive Plan in 2006. The Dallas Center for Architecture opened in 2008 at 1909 Woodall Rogers Freeway. The goal of the Center was to bring architecture programming closer to the public and to serve as a convener for collaboration between the Dallas Center for Architecture Foundation (now the Architecture and Design Foundation), the USGBC North Texas Chapter, and the Dallas Architecture Forum, among others.
Bryce Weigand, FAIA served as Texas Society of Architects president in 2002. AIA Dallas presidents included: Robert L. Meckfessel, FAIA in 2000, Myriam E. Camargo, FAIA in 2001, Ted C. Kollaja, FAIA in 2003, Craig S. Reynolds, FAIA in 2004, Tip Housewright, FAIA in 2005, Robert K. Morris, FAIA in 2006, Betsy del Monte, FAIA in 2007, Mark Wolf, AIA in 2008, and Todd C. Howard, AIA in 2009.
Dallas and the nation experienced another economic downturn in 2008 and it would last until about 2010. Since 2010, there has been a focus on the Dallas urban core, renovation of the 1980s skyscrapers, and redevelopment of older districts around the city, such as Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, and West Dallas. There is an emphasis on housing and transportation infrastructure. The Downtown Dallas 360 Plan, a public-private partnership between Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) and the City of Dallas was adopted by the City of Dallas in 2011 with a focus on the vitality, urban design, and connectivity of downtown neighborhoods. Among the major developments in the city during this decade are Klyde Warren Park which opened in 2012 and Pacific Plaza in 2019, the signature bridges—Margaret Hunt Hill (2012) and Margaret McDermott (2013)—, Trinity Groves in west Dallas (2012), the Dallas Farmer’s Market privatization (2013), the modernization of the Love Field Airport (completed in 2014), and downtown mixed-use developments such as The Union (2018).
AIA Northeast Texas became a section of AIA Dallas in 2018, with the Chapter offering programming to east Texas in a consistent basis. Our territory covers several counties in north Texas and there is a continuing effort to increase our presence in these areas. Technology and social media have allowed us to expand some of these opportunities.
AIA Dallas moved to Republic Center in 2018 and rebranded the Dallas Center for Architecture as the Architecture and Design Exchange (AD EX). The AD EX is home to both AIA Dallas and the Architecture and Design Foundation, formerly the Dallas Center for Architecture Foundation, which was founded in 1984. Together, both organizations are making the AD EX a place to engage the public and the profession, inspire the next generation of architects, influence outcomes to create a more resilient, equitable, and vibrant north Texas, and a place to learn about architecture’s impact.
Over the past decade, through our Public Policy Committee, AIA Dallas has increased its involvement in issues of interest to the profession and the public, issuing official statements about the Trinity Toll Road, Historic Preservation, 1-345, Dallas Comprehensive Environmental Climate Action Plan, DART D2, and Dallas development and permitting issues, and more. AIA Dallas has a long history of advocacy around urban design and civic initiatives going back to the 1950s. Our involvement has included procurement and contract issues with the City of Dallas and DISD.As early as 1956, we hve be a part of the creation of a board of professionals which turned into an urban design advisory group to the City of Dallas on urban design issues in the 1960s and 1970s. We supported the creation of the first Preservation Ordinance in Dallas in 1975 and the creation of DART in the 1980s. Since the 1990s we have been involved in the Trinity River Corridor Master Plan process, joining the debate around the Trinity Toll Road from 2007 to 2017 until the project was effectively canceled, due in part to AIA Dallas’ public opposition. We value the collaboration with many partners such as Preservation Dallas, DDI, TREC, the Dallas Architecture Forum, and UTA CAPPA as key to our advocacy and outreach efforts.
Our leadership over the past decade included: Craig Reynolds, FAIA, serving as Texas Society of Architects president in 2012, followed by Michael J. Malone, FAIA in 2015, Michael Hellinghausen, FAIA in 2019, and Audrey Maxwell, AIA in 2021. AIA Dallas presidents included: Joe Buskuhl, FAIA in 2010, Kirk Teske, FAIA in 2013, Lisa Lamkin, FAIA in 2014, Bob Bullis, FAIA in 2015, me—Zaida Basora, FAIA in 2016, Nunzio DeSantis, FAIA in 2017, Mike Arbour, AIA in 2018, and Richard Miller, FAIA in 2019,
I was hired as Executive Director in January of 2020 and together with our most recent presidents, María Gómez, AIA in 2020, Al Hernández, AIA in 2021, and our current president, Ben Crawford, AIA, their boards, members, partners, staff, and volunteers embarked on a process to assess and re-envision our mission, vision, and goals for AIA Dallas while adapting and pivoting to virtual and hybrid platforms, to keep our momentum as we transitioned to this new decade.
Over the last 75 years, we have grown to be the 6th largest chapter in the AIA. It is our volunteers and members whose leadership and dedication are the foundation of our chapter’s success. The highlights above reflect the events, projects, mentors, and friends that had the most influence and impact on me, and from my perspective, on our Chapter, the City of Dallas, and North Texas. I have valued my AIA Dallas membership for the past 33 years and it is my personal goal, as AIA Dallas’ Executive Director, to ensure that you find value in your membership and engagement with us.
We have been part of significant transformations in north Texas, and we are embracing the challenges and opportunities that the 21st century will bring for us to continue to transform the world around us for the benefit of future generations. This decade started with new complexities presented by the pandemic, a sustained movement to bring increased inclusivity and diversity to the profession, and a re-evaluation of the architect’s role and our impact on society. It is imperative for architects to lead in community issues that are at the intersection of design and housing, mental health, transportation and infrastructure, education, and the environment. We want to position the AIA as a leader in helping the profession adjust and position our members for success through these changes. As stated in our new 2021 Strategic Plan, join us in our mission to advance the transformational power of architecture!
Cheers to the next 75 years!