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New Fort Worth City Hall to Give America’s 13th Largest City a Real Front Lawn — and Some Seriously Cool Council Chambers

An Inside Look at an Innovative Transformation

BY // 08.12.22

Fort Worth’s new City Hall — including an innovative new Council Chamber — should be complete in early 2024. The design process has explored not only the history of Fort Worth but has looked toward its bright future. The design phase is nearing completion, and construction will soon get underway.

This new Fort Worth City Hall will come complete with a living room, a porch and a front lawn for all to enjoy.

Fort Worth’s current City Hall was built in 1971. A model of many civic buildings of the era, it was a heavy modernist design from New York architect Edward Durrell Stone. It is similar in many respects to Dallas’ City Hall, which was designed by I.M. Pei in 1977, sans Pei’s angled lines and reflecting pool. Both are heavy concrete brutalist architecture structures.

The scale of the current Fort Worth City Hall was appropriate for what was the 33rd largest city in the nation when it was built. Fort Worth’s population hovered just under 400,000 back in the early 1970s. Now, it’s a whole different reality.

Fort Worth is one of the fastest growing cities in America ― nearing 1 million residents and already ranking 13th in the largest cities in the United States rankings. With no signs of slowing down.

The new Fort Worth City Hall site slopes down to the river. It will become Fort Worth's living room, front porch and lawn. (Rendering courtesy BOKA Powell Architects)
The new Fort Worth City Hall site slopes down to the river. It will become Fort Worth’s living room, front porch and lawn. (Rendering courtesy Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects)

Currently, Fort Worth’s city staff and departments operate from 14 different buildings scattered around downtown. That’s why Fort Worth made a move to upgrade its civic departments, purchasing the former Pier 1 Imports headquarters building, located at 100 Energy Way, for $69.5 million in January of 2021.

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The plan is to consolidate the Fort Worth city offices and the staff of all 22 departments into one hub, and build a new, more inviting City Council Chamber.

A New Fort Worth City Hall

The new Fort Worth City Hall tower structure was designed by Duda Paine Architects, and it just celebrated the 20 year mark. The exterior of the striking glass-clad 20 story tower will remain unchanged. It’s the insides that will be reconfigured.

“The building has good bones, with rich materials like timeless travertine, mink gray marble flooring and Rosso Collemandina marble walls,” says BOKA Powell Architects’ Mark Dabney, the principal in charge of the overall Fort Worth City Hall project.

While the redesign of the upper floors will be completed to suit the needs of each city department, the two-story lobby will include a media room and a work room for all to use before council meetings. It will be a contemporary and welcoming space. The lobby will become Fort Worth’s living room.

The new council chamber at the Fort Worth City Hall will add glass walls on two sides, providing a view to the city beyond. (Rendering courtesy BOKA Powell Architects)
The new council chamber at the Fort Worth City Hall will add glass walls on two sides, providing a view to the city beyond. (Rendering courtesy Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects)

Fort Worth has always been about movement, from its first settlement by the banks of the winding Trinity River to becoming a crossroads with its railroad system. And you can add the cattle drives that led herds to the Fort Worth Stockyards. Fort Worth is also known as a leader in aviation. The city is home to Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and has naval fighter jets soaring overhead.

Fittingly, the design of the new Fort Worth City Hall will include a nod to all the movement that has made Fort Worth what it is.

“Fort Worth’s unique culture will be incorporated through art and artifacts, like those gifted to the city by its sister cities,” Dabney tells PaperCity Fort Worth.

A Transparent Council Chamber

The entire site is being designed to be cohesive, including its landscaping and outdoor amenities. Now, you can include its brand new Council Chamber, which was designed in collaboration with Brinkley Sargent Wiginton (BSW) Architects.

Brinkley Sargent Wiginton is the design architect and the architects of record for the Council Chamber addition.

“You’ll move from the tower lobby into the Council Chamber seamlessly, as it will all be under one roof,” Dabney says.

Many who have spoken before the Fort Worth City Council refer to the current layout as “the pit” because you have to descend into a well to the speaker’s podium. You are forced to look up at the council. In BSW’s new design, speakers will be at eye level with the council members, giving the space a more inviting and open feel.

Since the site naturally slopes downward, it allows for the Council Chamber to flow from the tower lobby into a two story chamber building. Fort Worth’s chamber will be quite unique. The oval-shaped design calls for glass walls on both sides of the 250 seat room.

Citizens will be one eye level as they address the City Council, in a column-free space with view to the city beyond. (Rendering courtesy of BOKA Powell Architects)
Citizens will be one eye level as they address the City Council, in a column-free space with view to the city beyond. (Rendering courtesy of Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects)

“This will be one of the few council chambers with a view outside, its glass facades allow natural light in, with views of the city beyond. It provides the transparency that a city government requires,” Dabney says.

The chamber incorporates a mass timber roof canopy, which extends beyond the windows of the chamber itself, shading the patio beneath.

“The heavy timber roof design creates an interesting and warm ceiling treatment, but more importantly it makes a column-free space with unobstructed views for all participants,” Dabney notes.

Fort Worth’s New Front Lawn

The porch canopy, which shades the plaza, slopes down to a huge lawn, which will also be open to the public, creating Fort Worth’s front lawn. This area will play host to citywide events, with walking trails and covered areas at the ready. The idea is to create a welcoming environment for all of Fort Worth to enjoy.

A view of the new Fort Worth city hall with its council chamber addition and Fort Worth's new front lawn. (Rendering courtesy BOKA Powell)
A view of the new Fort Worth city hall with its council chamber addition and Fort Worth’s new front lawn. (Rendering courtesy Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects)

The architects of this new Fort Worth City Hall are also taking full advantage of the site’s slope and topography. Working alongside CCA Landscape Architects, the group settled on a ripple design.

“We are on the river. It’s arguably the largest green space in downtown,” says Andrew Bennett, BOKA Powell’s principal in charge of design. “There is so much potential for this to become a true city park.

“The new chamber radiates out from the existing tower like a pebble dropped onto the site. The buildings, benches and shade structures are all rippling down toward the river and the future bypass channel.”

The design and landscape will create a true front lawn with ample shade trees and functional spaces.

“You’ll notice a softness and organic patterning, from the landscape materials chosen, right down to the soft edges of the pebble-shaped benches,” Bennett notes.

A groundbreaking event for the new Fort Worth City Hall is planned for September 15, with construction beginning on the new Council Chamber. The project is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2024.

For Fort Worth, it’s about time.

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