Contributed by:
Janet Spees
Assoc. AIA

Details Matter: A Worthy Companion

Dallas’ Fountain Place welcomes a sibling tower after 34 years.

The Fountain Place Residential Tower, designed by Page, wrapped up final construction and opened to residents over the summer of 2020. The tower sits directly across from the well-known Fountain Place tower, once known as Allied Bank Tower, designed by Henry N. Cobb with Pei, Cobb and Freed Partners.

The Fountain Place complex was originally designed as twin towers for a competition called “Let’s Top Pennzoil Place,” referring to Pennzoil Place, the double tower in downtown Houston. In early designs, the second tower was envisioned as an exact replica of the current Fountain Place tower, only rotated 90 degrees. Today, the Fountain Place Residences completes the original intent for two towers, but in a new way, while paying utmost respect to the original tower.

Photo Credit: Conleigh Bauer

The 45-story building sits on a modest site, only 300 feet wide by 600 feet long. The base of the Fountain Place Residence Tower connects seamlessly to the existing shared courtyard, designed by Dan Kiley and Peter Ker Walker in 1986. The all-glass structure includes a nine-story plinth, for eight levels of parking within the base of the tower. At the 10th level, Page cleverly carved out an 18,000-square-foot amenity deck by rotating the tower 45 degrees. This design decision not only provides a multifunctional amenity with a pool for entertaining on the south and a quieter deck on the north, but it also allows the building to have a true north-south orientation.

“We knew that if we were going to do an all-glass building in the middle of downtown Dallas, we really needed to think about solar control. It’s so hard to control those west and east faces, so we went north-south,” said Talmadge Smith, AIA, a principal with Page.

The remainder of the 45-story building contains 367 residential units, including six floors of penthouses and a Sky Lounge amenity on Level 45. Above the Sky Lounge, is “60 feet of [architectural] fun” — six stories of full height, all under a glass enclosure.

“In that 60 feet of fun is included a steel structure, which complements the base building structure, which is technically concrete, and 60 feet of steel allows us to complete the geometry of the building. Within that 60 feet of overrun is [the] elevator overrun, mechanical penthouses, and our building maintenance crane,” Smith said. 

Even with the pressure to leave the top of the building open, Page felt strongly about finishing it in a similar fashion to the original Fountain Place tower. The steep angles to the ridgeline are “something intrinsic to the design,” said Sergio Botero, AIA, project architect for Page, and the team wanted preserve that design connection.

One of the biggest challenges with an all-glass building with complex angles and surfaces is maintenance.

“One of the big challenges with a shape like that is how you wash the windows. It sounds so practical and so mundane, but it will kill your project if you don’t manage it well,” Smith said.

Operation diagrams for integrated Building Maintenance Unit [BMU].

Page worked with CoxGomyl, a building maintenance unit, or BMU, consultant, early in the process to find ways to incorporate the BMU within the structure itself. The result was a now you see it, now you don’t type of magic trick. The BMU incorporates a crane within the six-story glass enclosure that, in effect, forms a glass hat at the top of the building. A portion of the glass enclosure at the ridgeline is sitting on top of the BMU and raises up with the BMU when it is time to perform various maintenance.

Once it is raised, an arm extends out for workers to access the exterior to wash windows or complete other types of exterior building maintenance. When the maintenance is finished, the arm of the unit retracts, and the BMU lowers back inside the building. Then, the “hat” sits back in place along the ridgeline, barely noticeable to the public. This piece of artistry is accomplished with an incredible less than six inches of tolerance at the connection to the glass enclosure within the ridgeline.

“It’s a little bit of performance art, on the top of our tower,” Smith said.

Looking at the structure, most people have no way of knowing just how complex the project is and how much work went into resolving these design challenges. Overall, the solution to this challenge is resolved in such an elegant way, complementing the design and honoring the original Fountain Place.

Diagram: Page

Janet Spees, Assoc. AIA is Senior Project Coordinator at GFF



Architect/ Interiors/ MEP Engineer: Page
Project team: Talmadge Smith, AIA; Wendy Dunnam Tita, FAIA; Eric Kuehmeier, AIA; Brent Cutshall, AIA; Will Butler; Sergio Botero, AIA; and Kaitlin Jones, RID
Client: AMLI Residential

Civil Engineer: Walter P. Moore
Envelope Consultants: Morrison Hershfield 
Landscape Architects: Talley Associates
Parking Consultants: HWA Parking
Structural Engineer: Cardno
Vertical Transportation: Persohn/Hahn Assoc. Inc.