Public Arts: Bryan Tower Plaza
Located at Federal and Harwood streets in downtown Dallas, Bryan Tower is a 40-story Class A office building designed by Neuhaus & Taylor Architects and known for its distinctive I-beam façade and bronze hues.
In 2018, Spire Realty engaged TBG Partners to renovate and re-envision Bryan Tower’s entry plaza to be inviting to pedestrians and provide additional amenities for tenants and visitors. The design embraces and celebrates the work of architect Harwood Taylor, a Dallas native who designed Bryan Tower in 1973 as part of the Neuhaus & Taylor architectural team. The building’s orthogonal form and minimalist aesthetic of steel and glass warranted TBG’s continued expression of the linear element.
Inspired by works of Mark di Suvero, an abstract expressionist sculptor, TBG designed a centerpiece sculpture that speaks to Taylor’s use of I-beams as a form of structural expressionism emphasizing the transparency in design and construction. The sculpture’s bright yellow trio of I-beams stand at 27, 17 and 12 feet tall, and the illuminated beams draw attention to the vertical nature of the design while grounding the building to the pedestrian realm.
TBG reinforced Taylor’s emphasis on authentic materials and modern design elements by designing and orienting custom benches at the entryway to reinforce the site’s linear relationship to the streetscape. Additionally, the design’s commitment to transparency warranted furnishings that exposed fasteners and materials to express the interesting design details. From inside the building looking out, warm wood [l1] accents invite people into the plaza, while from the outside looking in, the benches embrace an austere feel, using concrete that responds[l2] to the travertine wall facade.
Responding to the elevated corner of the site, the design for the plaza was derived from a singular point. The angular notion of the pavers and benches embraces the corner creating varied heights and backing options while simultaneously representing an intervention of the structure’s orthogonal configuration. Structural Expressionism is further reinforced using raw steel and natural wood on the site’s custom trellis at the corner of the building and I-beams erected along the skybridge extend the design intent into the parking garage. The trellis overhangs and seems to float with little structural support just as Bryan Tower seems to float above the pedestrian realm.
Reinforcing the history of place through design is a critical component of landscape architecture. Bryan Tower represents a great example of how architecture can be complemented and celebrated by the outdoor environment.
Credit Menary Studio for photos
Seth Atwell, ASLA is a principal at TBG Partners.
Henry Dalton, ASLA is a senior associate at TBG Partners.