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Architecture Project Marries Dallas' Past and Future

May 08, 2013

The evolution of downtown Dallas — from a 5 p.m. ghost town to a thriving arts district where people live and work — continues to gain momentum. A new structure pops up every four to six months. But this exciting time leaves some asking about the city’s history. Can legacy buildings stay relevant? The University of North Texas at Dallas with the architects of Freese and Nichols and the designers of Ayers Saint Gross are taking bold steps toward a resounding yes.

The Universities Center at Dallas occupies the 1955 expansion of the 1929 Titche-Goettinger Building, one of downtown Dallas’ original department stores. This fall, the vacant floors will reopen as the home of the UNTD College of Law, the Metroplex's first public law school.

Until recently, this eight-story building stood windowless across from Main Street Gardens, a two-acre park in one of the most historically significant areas of Dallas. Working closely with the Landmark Commission, the project team is updating the monolithic façade with two expansive curtain walls spanning five floors and totaling 12,800 square feet. The intent is to preserve the monolithic nature of the historic structure, while opening new views of the city park and skyline. This innovative reuse effort promotes a healthy work environment, increasing the value of the space.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Universities Center at Dallas is part of the Harwood Historic District and Main Street District. The UNTD College of Law puts 1901 Main at nearly full occupancy. By creating opportunities for higher education, stimulating demand for downtown housing and showcasing Main Street Gardens, this renovation is a win-win for both the past and the future of this growing city.