Another Week, Another Abominable Story About a Historic Teardown

The Meadows Building on Central Expressway is going to have one of its wings "amputated.

The Meadows Building in the 1950s (via Flickr)
The Meadows Building in the 1950s (via Flickr)

Is there even a point in getting angry anymore? I mean, there have been so many stories about Dallas erasing its past that the immediate spike in my blood pressure that came after reading about the latest pending tear down of a historic structure seems like a complete waste of energy. I thought this city was beyond this, all the trashing of itself for the sake of the stupid. But apparently not.

The latest? Well, one of my favorite buildings in the city, the Meadows Building on Central Expressway, is going to have one of its wings “amputated.” To be fair, it’s not a Dallasite to blame. The Chicago real estate company GlenStar Properties wants to tear down the three story section of the Meadows that runs parallel to Greenville Ave. Why? The ugly-as-hell Davaco/Energy Square building that sits behind it is tough to get to, so GlenStar is going to tear down a chunk of the Meadows to make a driveway.

I get it. I’ve been to the Davaco, and it is a pain to find it. It took me 15 minutes to make my way from Greenville to the Davaco parking garage. The entire time I was driving in circles in the Meadows’ cramped parking lot looking for the entry, I was admiring the tree shaded, weightless facade of the Meadows Building, with its rows of glass and sheer marble side walls. The building is an AIA award winner, and, along with the Statler-Hilton, it is one of the best examples of mid-century modern high rise architect in Dallas. Sure, I was annoyed I couldn’t find the Davaco, but while I was driving around I never once thought, “Gosh, I wish they would tear down the Meadows so I can get to the Davaco.” I do remember thinking, however, “What the hell is wrong with the planning department in this city? Why did they allow someone to shove this stupid, derivative, off-the-shelf-post-modern monstrosity behind one of our city’s office gems?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the answer to that question is the city already let a two story annex of the Meadows be demolished to make way for the Davaco back in the 1980s.

If there is a silver lining, it has to do with what I wrote about last week’s historic architectural scare. The city’s new demolition delay ordinance, which was passed as a way to help stave-off historic tear downs, hasn’t really been tested yet. So, how will it come into play here? In short, it won’t. The delay ordinance won’t protect the Meadows because the ordinance only kicks-in for buildings in downtown and parts of Oak Cliff. So, consider it tested. The new ordinance it’s weak and useless. What else is new?

Anyway. I’m tired of being the crazy and raving don’t-tear-down-Dallas’-architectural-history, will-someone-please-think-about-the-children guy. From now on, I think I’m going to limit my anger to shark fins, large whale beaching events, and grolar bears. Carry on Dallas.

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