Many local architects were disgruntled over the selection of I.M. Pei to design the new Dallas Symphony Hall. The New York-based architect has already done so much work in Dallas that his only branch office is here. Pei, who designed Dallas City Hall and One Dallas Centre, has two other projects under way: the Arco Tower downtown and the Mobil Exploration and Research Lab in Farmers Branch.

Does Dallas really need another Pei? Stanley Marcus apparently thinks so. As a member of the selection committee, he was influential in the quest for the best talent out of the 43 applicants.

George Richie, a member of Harwood K. Smith, the largest local firm, demurs, saying, “There’s a wealth of good design talent right here in Dallas.” Jim Wylie of the Oglesby Group notes that the case for a local firm is strengthened considering that the hall will be Pei’s first try at a concert facility. (The Oglesby Group was one of the six finalists in the competition.) Val Hawes of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum commends Pei as a first-rate choice, but complains that the entire selection process was done too quietly.

But others defend Pei’s selection as one that will guarantee the city yet another architectural masterpiece. They say the project will be better because it is Pei’s first music hall. Symphony general manager Leonard David Stone says the key to the project is that Pei himself will be doing the work. That, according to Stone, is like having Beethoven, and not one of his scribes write you a symphony.


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