Planned Pelli project will shake up Dallas office market
In 1972, an engineer-turned-real estate developer turned the Texas commercial property market on its ear.
Houston developer Gerald Hines hired illustrious architect Philip Johnson to design a downtown office project.
Most of Hines’ office buildings to date had been workaday projects that delivered good value to tenants for the money.
But with Pennzoil Place in Houston, builder Hines demonstrated that high architecture and for-profit commercial property development could be married.
His Pennzoil Place was fully leased when it opened and was hailed as the country’s Building of the Year byThe New York Times.
Developers all over the country took notice — especially in Dallas, where the skyline had long been derided as looking like “a bunch of Kleenex boxes standing on end.”
The 1980s real estate boom and the rise of postmodern architecture soon shook Dallas real estate.
Before you knew it, renowned architects including Johnson and partner John Burgee, I.M. Pei, Aldo Cossutta and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s Richard Keating were forever changing the city with eye-popping building designs.
During the last decade or so, a tighter business focus on real estate costs and tougher financing hurdles for builders have reined in spending for buildings.
The exception has been in downtown Dallas’ Arts District, where acclaimed work by Renzo Piano , Foster + Partners, Joshua Prince-Ramos and Rem Koolhaas have brought Dallas international attention.
And, of course, too much has been said about those new bridges by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Even in the public sector, the high cost of top-tier architecture can be a tough bill to swallow. A stunning Dallas convention center hotel tower designed by Foster + Partners was nixed in favor of a more tame scheme when the projected costs got out of hand.
The files of developers and architects are full of proposed projects that never got off the drawing board because of the economics of the deal.
That’s what makes Crescent Real Estate Holdings’ decision to hire master architect César Pelli a game changer in today’s Dallas office market.
While most developers are scrambling to figure out how to finance and keep the rent down on the next generation of office space, Crescent has upped the ante with its plans for a $225 million office, retail and residential project in Uptown.
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