Having run around a lot of high-rises in Dallas over the years as a potential buyer, open house voyeur, and CandysDirt.com roving reporter, people ask me what I think of “X” building. With that in mind, here’s my list of the top Dallas high-rises in different categories.
1. Best Unbuilt high-rise: Rogers Lacy Hotel
Long before I moved to Dallas, I saw the Rogers Lacy Hotel images in a 1985 book about architect Frank Lloyd Wright titled, “Treasures of Taliesin: Seventy-Seven Unbuilt Designs” by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer.
The 64-story mixed-use building was to have housed a hotel on the first nine floors before transitioning to a stepped-back high-rise column containing residential condos/apartments. Wright didn’t think much of Dallas summers or its 1940s cityscape and so the glass exterior was to have been double-thickness with translucent insulation between the panels. This way, light was transmitted without having to see the outside. Some panels were moveable and some were operable windows, but the general “face” of the building was towards the interior where an amazing atrium was to have been. Lush plants and interior-facing windows offered what Wright thought were the best “views” of Dallas. The building was never built because during negotiations to convince oilman Rogers Lacy of the daring design, Mr. Lacy died.
The building was to have been located on the southwest corner of Ervay and Commerce, in back of Neiman Marcus. Coincidentally, Wright was in Dallas in the 1930s to discuss building a home for Stanley Marcus. Dallas Morning News critic John Rosenfield was a big proponent of the project.
2. Best First-Generation Residential High-Rise: The Gold Crest
The 1965 Gold Crest may only have 54 units, but it has an enormous amount of design simplicity, its exterior remaining in amazingly original condition. Its large units and wrap-around balconies have blended into the fabric of Turtle Creek. George Dahl not only designed the building, but was its first resident and died there in 1987 at age 93. For someone born in 1894 in Minnesota, Dahl had a huge impact on Dallas, from Fair Park to UT Arlington, Neiman Marcus, the Dallas Morning News building, and 32 Sears stores. He also designed the nation’s first drive-thru bank in University Park at the corner of Daniel and Hillcrest, its now-bastardized street-face most recently housed Chase bank.
Dahl wasn’t tied down to a specific architectural genre, instead giving clients what they wanted from Spanish to Art Deco to (Midcentury) Modern. And it’s the more deco-modern style we most associate with Dahl today. The Gold Crest, being a personal project for Dahl, is where he chose to live for the last 22 years of his life … a fitting epitaph.
3. Best Floor Plans: 3525 Turtle Creek
What can I say? Dallas’ first residential high-rise got it right. While the exterior is not my favorite, the interior floor plans are at once spacious, simple and malleable.
They’re also “thick” units where rooms don’t feel like the “fat corridors” found in so many thinner high-rises. Depth matters.
By “malleable” I mean that in every unit, it’s simple to knock down the walls separating the living room, dining room and the kitchen for a truly modern open-concept space … something many newer buildings can’t do. The only hitches in the designs are master closet space and retrofitting of in-unit washers/dryers … both of which are fixable (without burning balcony space).
Depending on your preferences, washers connect to the kitchen or bathroom drains. Dryers would need to be either ventless or self-venting.
By reworking the master bathroom’s “dressing rooms,” a good-sized closet can be made. Being a man, sacrificing a makeup table isn’t a heart-breaker.
It’s this ability to offer living spaces that can change with evolving living patterns that won me over. Some buildings have a few floor plans that are supple enough to move with the times, but at 3525 Turtle Creek it’s all of them.
The units are large. The 1,193-square-foot “C” one-bedroom has a 16 x 23 living room and a 7 x 19 terrace. The largest 2,497-square-foot “A” unit is a three-bedroom home with a 25 x 23 living room, 14 x 18 dining room and a 14 x 9 balcony. Minor finagling of the dressing room and there’s suddenly plenty of closet space.
But it’s the 2,085-square-foot, two-bedroom “D” unit that wows me with its 42 x 7 balcony. Master closet space can be enhanced by closing the bathroom doorway, gutting the dressing room into a real closet, relocating the bathroom door to the shower area, replacing the bathtub with double vanity and placing the shower where the sink resides. Big closet, no bathtub.
Unfortunately, behind the building’s concrete lattice many of the balconies have been enclosed to either make larger living areas or as added closet space. Always a pity.
Stay-tuned for parts two and three where I give my “awards” for most over the top, starter condo, curb appeal, traditional, renovation-ready, “wished you’d bought” and more …
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a CandysDirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.