It has a different aesthetic than many of the nation’s older, more traditional Flemish Renaissance, Art Deco, Georgian cum French Renaissance city halls: it’s edgy contemporary. Personally, I think the exterior needs a good steam cleaning  — interiors, too! But our I.M. Pei-designed Dallas City Hall, which has been around and talked about since 1978, was just named one of the top five city halls in the U.S. by CURBED, and for very god reason.

Plans for a new city hall in Dallas, Texas, had been in the works since the 1940s, but they didn’t come into fruition until after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. In an effort to revitalize Dallas’s reputation after the tragedy, the city launched the Goals for Dallas program which included new city and federal offices.

The fifth iteration of Dallas’s City Hall opened in 1978, and the city tapped the renowned modern architect I.M. Pei to design the building. The result was a concrete and angled structure that remains controversial today. Giant oval columns support an inverted pyramid of concrete and glass, and the building also provides shade during the hot summer months.

Some dislike the concrete and somewhat austere aesthetic; others praise the building for its innovation and creativity.

It is a unique city hall. City halls, says CURBED, “are often located at the cultural and physical nexuses of urban centers, creating large gathering places for everything from celebrations to protests. These are some of the most beautiful—and interesting—structures in the city.” 

(more…)