A New Tower for a Reinvented City

Architect Scott Johnson cut his teeth in Phillip Johnson’s office in the early 1980s.

He worked on the postmodern AT&T (now Sony) building in Manhattan, the Republic Bank Center (now Bank of America Center) in Houston, and International Place in Boston.

He’s returned to Texas just in time for that city’s newest reinvention of itself, adding its first tall building since its 1980s building boom.

His 42-story Museum Tower, located in the Arts District across the street from Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center, is scheduled to open late this year.

“I was looking for something stylish, elegant and optimistic,” Johnson says.  “I wanted to try to achieve simplicity.”

Designs for the tower began in 2007, then ground to a halt after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, followed by a cratering banking system.  The project stalled until the Dallas Police and Fire Department Pension Fund made the decision to invest in it.

The new structure is a vertical tower in a sea of low-rise structures by Norman Foster, I. M. Pei, Rem Koolhaas, Renzo Piano and Edward Larrabee Barnes.

“The neighborhood has a lot of testosterone,” says Johnson.  “The challenge was about how a 42-story building could fit thoughtfully into that, because of how well it’s all been done.  That’s high bar.”

Elliptical in shape and oval in its plan, the building bulges slightly at its center.  “It’s an extremely refined idea, derived from the Greeks, with their Doric columns,” he says. 

It’s a tower that marks the beginning of a return to living downtown in Dallas – in a style to which the city has become accustomed.

For more on the Museum Tower, go to http://www.museumtowerdallas.com/

For more on Scott Johnson, go to http://www.johnsonfain.com/

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