In the United States, where everything is competition, even the world of construction has its own mega-milestones. The race to the city that surpasses the 1,000 feet mark multiple times, or does it for the first time, is always ongoing. Chicago, which inaugurated the era of American skyscrapers with the nine-story Home Insurance Building constructed in 1885, currently boasts six buildings above the 1,000 feet mark. However, it is far behind New York, which has 16 super-tall buildings.
Manhattan holds the record for the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with the One World Trade Center tower, constructed after the attack on the Twin Towers. It currently ranks seventh worldwide, trailing behind Asian and Arab skyscrapers, and measures 1,776 feet (541 meters) thanks to the spire that tops the building, reaching the height corresponding to the year of the United States’ declaration of independence. Chicago takes consolation in third place with the Willis Tower, which reaches 1,450 feet (442 meters), has 108 floors, and is better known in the city by its previous name, Sears Tower. This building held the title of world’s tallest from 1974 to 1988.
The Skyscrapers of the Future: Ambition in Texas
Many would expect to find a considerable number of skyscrapers surpassing the 1,000 feet mark in Texas, where the culture of BIG prevails. However, Dallas, with 21 identifiable skyscrapers, ranks ninth among American cities, surpassed in order by Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston, and has yet to reach the 1,000 feet mark. Houston boasts the Jp Morgan Chase Tower, measuring 1,002 feet, while Austin has the under-construction Waterline, which, upon completion, will reach 1,022 feet. In Austin, another project, the Wilson Tower, aimed to be the tallest building in Texas, standing at 1,035 feet. However, the Austin Design Commission canceled this goal by reducing the building’s planned 80 floors to just 45.
The skyline of major American cities is a constantly evolving picture, and Dallas is also poised to make the leap beyond a thousand feet, although the construction start date for the Goldman Sachs Tower, an 80-story skyscraper, is still to be determined. In the meantime, the American investment bank has leased large office spaces for its Texan hub, while the project to create a sort of campus with residences, shops, and academic institutions, along with a 38-story building called The One Newpark, continues. This development will be situated between the American Airlines Center and the Perot Museum. The approval was granted last year thanks to agreements between the builders and the city administration regarding permits and tax incentives. As a result of an excellent public-private partnership, the builder was granted $18 million in deductions. The project is expected to create 5,000 jobs and promote the development of downtown Dallas.
Bank of America Dominates the City Center
The center of Dallas is dominated by the Bank of America Plaza. This skyscraper was built back in 1985 and has remained the tallest, although it falls short of reaching a thousand feet. The Texan city entered the list of “vertical” urban areas in 1909 with the construction of the Praetorian Building, which stood 190 feet tall, at a time when buildings with 10-20 floors were considered skyscrapers. Since then, vertical construction in Dallas has been rapid but has not reached the clouds. Even the Texas School Book Depository, built in the early 1990s and now owned by the Dallas County Administration, was considered a skyscraper. The building, with a square base measuring 100 feet on each side, had no architectural significance or specific purpose to be remembered for until November 22, 1963, when Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John Fitzgerald Kennedy from the sixth floor. Today, it is considered a landmark in American history.
Dallas, when the skyline becomes a city symbol
In the last 50 years, Dallas has grown more horizontally than vertically, incorporating the Fort Worth area and becoming one of the fastest-growing American megalopolises in terms of population. Currently, there are a total of 36 buildings in downtown Dallas that exceed 350 feet (107 meters) in height, and the skyline is proudly cherished by residents. It is very common to see it reproduced as tattoos on people’s arms or as stickers on vehicles.
The sense of belonging is so strong among Texans that even when it is surpassed in height, the Bank of America Plaza, located in the Main Street District and ranked as the 45th tallest skyscraper in the United States at 921 feet (283 meters) with 70 floors, will remain the city’s landmark.
According to the old saying, “Don’t tell me to drive north or south, give me a landmark like a store or, even better, a bank.” The residents of Dallas have nicknamed the Bank of America tower “The Pickle” due to its green nighttime illumination. The illuminated shape of the building is visible from afar and serves as the North Star for Texan travelers. The lighting, originally done with an argon system until 2013, has been replaced by a LED system capable of producing color displays along the tower’s silhouette during holidays or special events, and then returning to the green pickle color for the rest of the year.
The second tallest building in Dallas is the Renaissance Tower, with 58 floors and a height of 886 feet (270 meters). Once again, it holds symbolic significance because, initially constructed in 1974 to a height of 710 feet (216 meters), the tower grew in 1987 with the addition of a spire and a lighting system that creates a decorative double “X” along its sides. In the 1980s, the tower was used in the famous TV soap opera Dallas as the headquarters of the Ewing Oil company owned by the protagonist J.R. and his family.
Each skyscraper seeks to establish its own reputation and position itself as a reference point for Dallas. In third place is the Comerica Bank Tower (787 feet, 60 floors) in Art Deco style, featuring a modernized barrel-vaulted façade. It would be taller than the Renaissance Tower if it weren’t for the spire added to its rival skyscraper. In fourth place is the JP Morgan Chase Tower, which in Houston is home to the tallest skyscraper in Texas and the world’s tallest with five facades. The fifth spot is occupied by The Fountain Place, a building named after the assortment of 172 fountains located at its base. This 720-foot-tall (219 meters), 60-story building is located in the Arts District and resembles a large prism with numerous façades that appear completely different depending on the angle from which the tower is observed as it soars towards the sky.