Republic National Bank Building (1954)

The Republic National Bank Building is the 2024 recipient of the AIA Dallas Historic Architecture Award. This recognizes buildings and structures that have had a significant impact and influence on architectural, cultural, and related aspects of Texas’ built environment. These buildings should exemplify standards of excellence, be 50 years old and retain their original integrity. This award both honors the architectural legacy of our region and advocates for the preservation of significant historic properties.


Located in the heart of downtown Dallas, the Republic National Bank Building has a compelling legacy in advancing the Dallas skyline and establishing the city’s status as the financial center in Texas. Known today as the Republic Center, the Republic National Bank Building is a unique example of rich architectural advancements and design.

The 36-story building served as the headquarters for the Republic National Bank upon its completion in 1954 and instantly became a Dallas landmark. It was also the first significant office building to be completed after the Second World War in downtown Dallas. Its height of 602 feet has earned it the titles of “tallest building in Dallas” and “tallest building west of the Mississippi River.” The gentle setback of the building’s design provided a pedestrian feel along the street. The top of the building was adorned with a beaming spire of 598 feet high, with a beacon which at half a billion candlepower, rotating 12 times per minute, was visible for 120 miles and only limited by the earth’s curvature.

According to David Dillon, award-winning former architecture critic for the Dallas Morning News, the Republic National Bank Building was considered a ‘prototypical fifties building,’ rising straight from the street to a flat top with minimalistic decoration. The distinct architectural style and form drove other banking institutions across Texas to follow suit with their own high-quality, modern, high-rise buildings. The building was one of the first in the United States to specifically utilize aluminum cladding, with most of the façade comprised of aluminum panels that remain intact today. The building was designated a Dallas Landmark in 2004 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Image 1: Rendering of Republic National Bank Building
Image 2: Current view of Republic Center from N. St. Paul Street and Pacific

In 1949 Republic National Bank hired Harrison & Abramovitz out of New York City, along with local Dallas architects Gill & Harrell, to design its new bank headquarters.

This firm of Harrison & Abramovitz is best known for corporate buildings and towers throughout the US, producing primarily modern designs in the rational and straightforward manner of the International Style. The firm’s first significant commission was the United Nations Building in New York City, completed in 1952. Another notable commission was the Alcoa Building in Pittsburgh, designed in 1950 and completed in 1953, which introduced a new design approach using stamped aluminum panel cladding and aluminum structural elements. These two buildings served concurrent design precedents for the Republic National Bank Building. Republic National Bank remains the only building west of the Mississippi designed by Harrison and Abramovitz, and it continues to be an iconic part of their national portfolio of works that influenced the next generation of mid-to-high-rise buildings in Texas and beyond.

George Harrell, FAIA began his practice in New York City. He held a private practice in Dallas until 1950 when he became a partner in Gill and Harrell, Architects and was selected as the associate architect for the Republic National Bank project. In 1956 he established the more prestigious Harrell and Hamilton firm. Harrell’s experience with the Republic National Bank Building informed many of his well-known later building designs, particularly his banks. Harrell and Hamilton were selected to design two successive additions to the original high-rise in 1965 and 1981. Harrell would go on to serve as president of the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Texas Society of Architects, director of the Texas Research League and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and chairman of the City of Dallas Urban Task Force. Harrell and Hamilton eventually became OMNIPLAN, which continues to practice today.

Tour of the Republic National Bank Building

Friday, July 12, 2024 12:00 – 3:00 PM
Organized by the Historic Resources Committee
Free to AIA Members, $30 General Admission

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