30 Years Later, Completed AMLI Fountain Place Joins Skyline (Almost) as Henry Cobb Intended

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Photos by Sean Gallagher

With cranes disappearing from Fountain Place plaza, AMLI Fountain Place nears completion. Some 30 years after I.M. Pei’s iconic tower graced the Dallas skyline, we’re finally seeing the companion building architect Henry N. Cobb always intended.

Well, almost as he intended.

AMLI Fountain Place a Fraternal Twin

AMLI Fountain Place

Cobb’s original design called for two identical towers, rotated at 90-degrees from one another. But instead of an exact copy of the original tower, the new addition is its own design, one that pays homage to its predecessor, with some notable differences.

Primarily, at 45 stories, the blunt-topped new tower comes up shy of Fountain Place’s 60. Echoing the distinct, late-modernist lines, it complements rather than copies Cobb’s original design. Similar, but managing somehow not to be derivative. So while not exactly the twin Cobb envisioned, the new high rise is constructed with the same green glass exterior, visually uniting them as siblings. Fraternal twins, perhaps.

Compare and Contrast

An incomparable view. Photos by Sean Gallagher.

But it’s what’s inside that truly differentiates the two buildings.

Cobb could never have imagined the downtown Dallas of 2020, with more than 70,000 residents in the city’s center, where once only commerce had been. He certainly wouldn’t have anticipated the need for a 367-unit residential community taking root in Fountain Place Plaza. With this new structure, not only was there a residential need to be met, a competing commercial building would have run contrary to the owner’s interests.

Telling a ‘Residential Story’

So how did the purpose of the building, which differs starkly from that of the original, inform the design of such an important addition to downtown?

Wendy Dunnam Tita, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP

Wendy Dunnam Tita, Principal and Interior Architecture Director at Page, the architecture firm that designed both the building and its interiors, said that the design was intended to tell what she called, “a residential story.” Carefully selected materials like warm woods, gold tiles, and amber glass play a contrast to the green glass curtain wall and the inclusion of balconies were intended to give the building a hospitable feeling.

“Even the lushness of the landscaping is meant to signify a residential component,” Tita said. “We wanted the design to say, ‘This is a residential building.’ We knew we were creating something that wouldn’t take away, but that would add to skyline, and that illustrated that people inhabited it. Not an office building posing as a residential building.”

Reflectivity and Light

That careful attention to detail continues on inside the luxury units. From wallcoverings to plumbing fixtures and millwork, every design element makes the most of the building’s stunning glass. “It will be one of the wonderful moments for the residents to have that floor-to-ceiling glass,” said Tita. “The cabinets inside the building are a glossy reflective gray so they almost disappear to provide reflective light in the units. Light and reflectivity are so important.”

Glossy millwork in the kitchens reflect light. Photos by Sean Gallagher.

As important to the design as carefully selected materials was honoring the designer’s intentions of the original Fountain Place. It was feeling of responsibility and stewardship, something Tita says guided the entire project team from the beginning.

“We’ve been cautiously pleased and humbled,” Tita said of the new tower’s reception. “We expected a lot of scrutiny. People have been kind to understand the challenges and appreciative of the gestures made in the new building.”

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Heather Hunter

In addition to a 15-year career in marketing and communications, Heather is an accomplished freelance writer and has contributed to The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column and “The United States of Dating” on National Public Radio. Her blog, This Fish Needs a Bicycle, was syndicated by NBC Universal (iVillage) for four years. As a ghostwriter, her work has appeared in publications such as WIRED and Stadia Magazine

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