Party in Front, Business in Back

An exploration of the Hotel Revel
Hotel Revel, Photo by Dror Baldinger, FAIA

The 1165 8th Avenue building in Fort Worth’s Near Southside district is a surprise.

Sitting along a street lined with buildings that feel as familiar and unsurprising as the heat of a Texas summer, 1165 stands out from blocks away. The large steel fins, the singular expression, give the building its identity. The project’s siting and orientation – up against the street – is commendable, helping establish an urban edge in this popular, relatively dense district. The building undeniably commands attention as it faces the street, with the all-glass facade protected behind layers of terraces and the prominent fins. It is a building that demands another look; a passerby cannot fully understand it with a casual glance or a quick drive past.

With the detail and drama of the front, the rear facade is relatively utilitarian as it looks onto the parking lot that serves the building. Dominated by an exterior exit stair, the mostly concrete facade, and its few windows welcome most of the project’s visitors, who come by car.

But the building’s front-to-back imbalance of detail and articulation does not diminish the elaborate and sophisticated structure of the front facade, with the fin-terrace-curtain wall sequence.

Hotel Revel, Photo by Dror Baldinger, FAIA

The plates that comprise the fins, welded together and ground so smoothly that the joint is impossible to see, are stabilized by the tubes to which they are welded on the backside. The welds are pristine, and even when stitch welds are used in lieu of continuous, their precision and regularity should be enough to satisfy even the most meticulous of detail-oriented architects; I’m looking at you, Ben Reavis. The open metal grating that forms the floors of the terraces provides an interesting view up through the terraces all the way to the top of the fins. But as my wife would remind me, a man must have designed it as it is not a friendly treatment for women who might be wearing skirts or dresses.

At the top, the fins turn 90 degrees and run horizontally. The outermost fins continue for the entire length of the building, forming a band above the perfectly smooth curtain wall. This horizontal steel continuation of the fin is also perfectly in plane with the glass below and is one of the most impressive details of the project, bringing disparate systems in perfect alignment.

Overall, Ibañez Shaw has created an impressive edifice, with a materiality usually reserved for projects like museums yet somehow employed in a spec office and retail building. If you are driving down 8th Avenue and find the prominent blue-to-white gradient of fins beckoning you, stop by and take a look –and get a drink at the hotel bar, also designed by Shaw.

Andrew Barnes, AIA is co-founder of Agent Architecture.

Hotel Revel, Photo by Dror Baldinger, FAIA

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