Is This the Fugliest Building in Dallas?

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The whole building doesn't fit in a single shot.


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The corner of Bryan Street and Haskell Avenue in east Dallas is supposed to be a happening area, where the worlds of hipsters and bros collide at the tacky but fun Vue apartment complex and Bryan Street Tavern nearby. But to get to those places, you will have to pass an imposing, creepy building, known in some circles as The Great Wall of Beige.

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Some of the beige is old and stained. The newer beige, placed on top of the older beige, would be an improvement of sorts, since it is cleaner, but then there are fewer windows.

The windows are all small and dark. They are covered in bars that have rusted.

The Great of Wall of Beige is actually the east Dallas location of an AT&T corporate office. This means that human beings who have not been convicted of any crime are expected to work inside of here.

You might imagine these people to be cold, underfed and very pale, but don't worry too much. Human workers only occupy about one quarter of the building, according to AT&T spokesman Holly Reed. The remaining three-quarters of the space is used to house technology. (Asked for her opinion on the building's architecture, Reed has a polite take: "I view it as a landmark so I know where I am, that's visible on the east side.")

The side entrance is covered in rust.

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You better not litter, warns a torn, dirty sign.

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What are these pots that people are sticking their cigarettes in? one might wonder. The pots are everywhere. They are gigantic, round cement structures decorated with beige rocks. They look a lot like trashcans.

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..but then, there's a hint of life.

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They are plant pots.

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Sure, there's 50 times as much pot as there is plant, but look at that tree. That tree is totally worth it.

In a city famous for tearing down old shit, this really obvious, tall ugly landmark has defiantly survived. It was constructed for AT&T all the way back in 1904.

However, fitting with Dallas traditions, the building has gotten uglier over time. In 1930, the building was a manageable size, and the architecture around the top was simple, but pretty cool.

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Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center
AT&T: Before the makeover

And then the '70s happened. The building was renovated. AT&T can't tell us exactly what happened during the '70s renovation. But they did provide us this helpful image from 1971, showing that some crazy ass shit went down.

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Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center
AT&T: After

The '70s renovation is probably responsible for the funky maroon band around the bottom. It might look super disco if someone dusted it.

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32 comments
BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

AT&T has a very similar building on Garland Road.  It's hilarious, because all of the windows point away from White Rock Lake.  It could have a terrific view, but instead it looks down on a 7-11 parking lot.

bettslonnie
bettslonnie

"The whole building doesn't fit in a single shot."

Really??? Back up.

lee.c.chevalier
lee.c.chevalier

What is this dreck? Your mother's a bland monolith too but she served a purpose and so does this building. It's the ATT longlines building, which still supports all the cell tower connections Cedar Tavedn douches use in my neighborhood. If you and your camphone were professional enough, you'd notice the elaborate terracotta designs in the original base building. You seem to be using up space with pretentious, yet unschooled, rhetoric. You're not an architectural historian, you're not a tastemaker, you use a camera phone for illustration. We're not sure that blogging diploma is actually working for you. Please look for a vein of talent, this is not your forte.

neighthun
neighthun

Not as fugly as the building east of Dallas City Hall. That one needs to be torn down!

G_David
G_David

I'm guessing the giant planters/ashtrays are also strategically placed to keep would-be terrorists from crashing through the glass doors facing Bryan.

Matt
Matt

This and Baylor hospital dominate my view out of my window from the Univision Building (another terrible looking one), and I have to say that with the absence of windows, this building is not only ugly, but with the revival of old Parkland, is probably the creepiest building in Dallas.


Don't let anyone tell you that you can't have windows if you are going to house a giant data center....my building houses an internet backbone and have managed to not brick over most of the windows.

G_David
G_David

I've always been fascinated by what I call The Monolith. I remember driving down to Bangkok City one night and seeing the big round part that used to be on top flashing continuously with what appeared to be lightning from within. It was weird. Just found a thread devoted to it on Dallas metropolis.com. Apparently the "crown" housed microwave antennas and was removed due to the obsolescence of that particular technology.

There are smaller versions all over, including one somewhere off Garland Road that I often notice from the lake.

bart53
bart53

Having passed that building for years on my daily commute, I've always been amused by what appears to be set of double doors that lead to nowhere six stories from the top. They can be seen in the first photograph posted above.

crford
crford

It's an old school Ma Bell CO building.  They look the same all across the country and you can pick them out from a long way off.  At one time they were full of telephone switches and accompanying cables and hardware.

amuse2
amuse2

It is a CO... full of computers and switches... Not that many people.

OakCliffClavin
OakCliffClavin

There's another hideous AT&T building on Ross across from the Wyly Theater.

losingmyreligion
losingmyreligion

One reason for the forbidding security makeover: Telephone exchanges became military targets and key points for popular uprisings in the '30s and '40s-- controlling a city's centralized source of public information and all that. The takeover of the telephone exchange in Barcelona was what triggered the violent stand-off between Stalinist and leftist groups that George Orwell chronicles in Homage to Catalonia. So if you come across any older AT&T building in the downtown of a major American city, odds are, it'll look a little impregnable, just like this one does. It'll have no windows on the first two-three-even-four-or-five floors. If it's not surrounded by a free-fire zone, it'll have high fences and barbed wire.

So now you know why. 


Personally, I think 511 North Akard is far more actively homely:


lolotehe
lolotehe

@lee.c.chevalier Don't be so hard on the kid. It's not like journalism majors are expected to *know* anything.

kduble
kduble

@neighthun Mike Samisicki has announced plans to convert it into a mixed-use, hotel, retail type thing. It used to be a beautiful building before an ugly, mid-century makeover.

G_David
G_David

@Matt True, but at the time this building went up, the electronics housed within probably ran a lot hotter - pre-microchip, hell pre-transistor even.  Think tubes.  Lots and lots of vacuum tubes.  Not to mention the fact that climate control systems were primitive at best.

G_David
G_David

@DktrStrangelove  I'd not heard of this style, but it's perfect: "The building is an extreme example of the Brutalist architectural style, with no windows and a flat concrete slab facade."

Anonymous
Anonymous

@bart53 The double doors are installed so that you can bring equipment and material into the building that can't fit into the freight elevator otherwise.

BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

@losingmyreligion That building is plug-ugly but it was the 1960's style.  Whenever I watch the intro to the Bob Newhart Show, I see that Chicago was filled with those buildings.  I dread a revival.

triptows
triptows

511 Akard is indeed homely on the outside, but it serves a great purpose as transitional housing for the homeless. However, a few of the units have no windows. THAT is creepy!

bettslonnie
bettslonnie

Old technology or new technology why would you want a window near electrical equipment. That's about as smart as installing a window in a submarine. If a storm hit this building at least you would keep your communications. Thanks to this old building.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@PatrickWilliams @losingmyreligion

As people from around here already know - because of our heat and humidity, the important part of architecture is the inside, not the outside. 

One Main Place is a fine example of that.  While the outside is simply functional, the inside is absolutely beautiful - with nearly every office having a fantastic view of the inner architecture and ground-floor skating rink.

Matt
Matt

@bettslonnie  Backbones are much more critical than telephone exchanges.  Windows are fine.

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