A unique perspective on the Statler Hilton – Dallas

The Statler-HIlton has been a favorite building of architects in Dallas for… well, probably as long as it has been standing.  Opened in 1956, it was on the cutting edge of design and hospitality.  Beyond the remaining exterior architecture, which is to be fully restored, there is still some remaining evidence of the hotel’s grandeur despite the extensive demolition.   OPened as the Statler-Hilton in 1956, it was obviously developed as a Statler Hotel but renamed at the opening, as Hilton bought the chain in 1954 – long into the development process of the hotel.  Nearly 20 years earlier, Conrad Hilton relinquished a Hilton built in 1925 in Dallas to a former officer of the HIlton company, which is currently Hotel Indigo on Main Street.

As far as I can tell, this is the only hotel to carry both names.  It was most recently the Dallas Grand Hotel, which closed its doors in 2001.  It has been admired by design enthusiasts ever since, all of them hoping the building wouldn’t be leveled.  The building had the standard asbestos issues, but on top of that had low ceilings with a structural system which was difficult to modify (hard for the current loft market) and a problematic cutainwall system (I guess market conditions also don’t really tolerate water leakage – what snobs).

So, new ownership has embarked on the journey to revitalize the building with apartments and retail.  My friends at Merriman, Associates Architects are leading the design effort.  I have found it funny that there is still so much unknown about what to do with all of that space – There is about 100,000 square feet of space available for retail on the ground and mezzanine levels alone.  Parking will be in the basement, which was always a concern of mine, as the (nasty) parking garage which served this hotel was torn down and replaced by Main Street Garden.  Still, when the tour guide was asked a question about how a specific space would be used, the typical answer as a shrug.

A few gems are still around, including this mural uncovered during demolition.  Apparently someone thought this was unfashionable at some time or another, but the mural pictured above was created by New York artist Jack Lubin.  It was actually hidden behind the kitchen.  Very few of his works are left.

The Empire Room Supper Club.  The iconic windows seen here have remained mostly intact, which is pretty amazing for an abandoned building with windows this so close ot the street – quite  available to be smashed by rocks.  The “Empire Room” name somewhat worries me – the same name was given to a room atop Elm Place, which sat nearly vacant for years and is my other favorite building in Downtown Dallas.  Fortunately it too is going to be restored and given a new life – I just hope their plans don’t involve defacing the skyline with more crazy LED’s – I think we’re up to our limit on that for a while.  I might post something on that one sooner or later.

If one visit the Omni Hotel in Dallas, this ballroom doesn’t look like much of anything.  If memory serves, it sits at around 13,000 square feet.  However, at the time, this was huge.  If I remember correctly, the tour guide said this was the largest ballroom in North America when it was built.  Its obviously seen better days…  This was another area that… they’re just not sure what to do with.  It is equipped with a car lift which is visible fromthe outside, which hoisted vehicles up to this floor from Jackson Street for car shows in in the hotel’s prime.

Welcome to the back door of “The Dallas Room” in the basement of what I think was the Dallas Grand Hotel.  I couldn’t find anything readily available on Google about this particular establishment, but it has seen better days.  I bet whatever went on down here was on the up-and-up.

This light fixture makes baby architects cry.

This was one of those finish outs that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the building.  We didn’t venture own there, but the light fixture at the front entrance lets us know what to expect.

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Below are some other fun pictures… You can also see them on this set on Flickr, but they are all just the same images .  Whatever your preference.

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