Architecture in Texas for the Casual Traveler

Must See Buildings and Structures in America's Lone Star State

Pueblo architecture, with pottery and flags, La Villita in San Antonio, Texas
La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Donovan Reese Photography/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

Denison, Texas, on the border with Oklahoma, would have remained a sleepy little railroad town if it hadn't been for Dwight David Eisenhower being born there. The Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site is just one of the many out-of-the-way places to visit in Texas.The home state of former Presidents Bush and Bush (father and son) has a lot more than oil and cattle fields. For travelers who are architecture enthusiasts, here's a selection of historic buildings and innovative new construction in Texas.

Visiting Houston

The Transco Tower, the 1983 landmark skyscraper designed by Philip Johnson, is now known as the Williams Tower, the tallest skyscraper in town. Another skyscraper designed by Johnson and his partner John Burgee is the building now known as the Bank of America Center, a 1984 example of playful postmodernism. Houston has historic skyscrapers from the 1920s and a Hilton designed by Pritzker Laureate I.M. Pei.

NRG (Reliant) Park, including the Houston Astrodome and Reliant Stadium, is the place to see the world's first domed sports stadium.

Rice University Stadium on the campus of Rice University remains one of the best examples of a modern, open-air football arena.

Visiting Dallas–Fort Worth

Big D architecture is historic, cultural, and truly an American melting pot experience. The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge over the Trinity River was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas helped designed a fully adaptable, modern theatre space called the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. In 2009 the British architect Sir Norman Foster created a high-tech, traditional venue for the Arts District when he designed the Winspear Opera House. Chinese-American I.M. Pei designed Dallas City Hall.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science was designed by another Pritzker-winner, American architect Thom Mayne.  The George W. Bush Presidential Library was designed by postmodernist architect Robert A.M. Stern.

Frank Lloyd Wright's last home constructed before his death was the John A. Gillin House, but that is not Wright's only mark on Dallas — the Kalita Humphreys Theater, also known as the Dallas Theater Center, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who reportedly said, "This building will one day mark the spot where Dallas once stood."

History swirls near Dealey Plaza as the place in Dallas where President John Kennedy was assassinated; Philip Johnson designed the JFK Memorial.

Outside activities in Dallas can revolve around the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas — or any number of activities in the historic art deco buildings at Fair Park.

Multi-cultural artist Volf Roitman brought a new style of art to Dallas, an international movement known as MADI (Movement Abstraction Dimension Invention). Its bold geometric forms are on display at the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art.  The MADI is the only museum dedicated to MADI art and the primary point of focus for the MADI movement in the United States.

Pronounced mah-DEE, MADI is a modern art movement known for bright colors and bold geometric forms. In architecture, sculpture, and painting, MADI art uses abundant circles, waves, spheres, arches, spirals, and stripes. MADI ideas are also expressed in poetry, music, and dance. Playful and exuberant, MADI art focuses on objects rather than what they mean. The whimsical combinations of shapes and colors are abstract and free of symbolic meanings.

Bill and Dorothy Masterson, lifelong supporters of the arts, were fascinated when artist Volf Roitman introduced them to the colorful and exuberant MADI movement. The Mastersons became avid collectors of MADI art works and spent time with the movement's founder, Carmelo Arden Quin. When Mr. Masterson's law firm moved to a 1970s storefront building, the Mastersons decided to convert the first floor into an art museum and gallery devoted to MADI art.

The building façade, designed by Volf Roitman, became a celebration of MADI with geometric forms laser-cut out of galvanized, cold-rolled steel and powder coated in bright colors. The colorful panels are permanently bolted to the existing building.

Roitman's convex-concave shapes and playful designs created a luscious, almost baroque skin for the once plain, two-story building. The landscape, furnishings, and lighting also reflect Roitman's MADI-ist ideas.

Visiting San Antonio

The Alamo. You've heard the phrase, "Remember the Alamo." Now visit the building where the infamous battle took place. The Spanish Mission also helped to give rise to the Mission Style of home design.

La Villita Historical District is an original Spanish settlement, bustling with shops and artisan studios.

San Antonio Missions. Missions San Jose, San Juan, Espada, and Concepcion were built over the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Spanish Governor's Palace. Constructed in 1749, the building was the Governor's Place when San Antonio was the capital of Texas.

Visiting College Station

Also in Texas

You cannot go inside these privately owned homes, but Texas is filled with interesting residences worthy of drive-by photography:

Plan Your Texas Itinerary

For tours of historic Texas architecture, visit the National Register of Historic Places. You'll find maps, photographs, historical information, and travel recommendations.

Source

  • Photo of the MADI Museum and Gallery Building at Dusk © Volf Roitman