Downtown News

Downtown Dallas high-rise fine-tunes rehab with ancient Greek marble

Downtown Dallas high-rise fine-tunes rehab with ancient Greek marble

This marble is fit for the Greek gods. Photo courtesy of the Drever

A major restoration project in downtown Dallas is underway: The Drever, one of the largest buildings in downtown and the only building in Dallas to span a full city block, is getting its exterior re-did.

The building's marble exterior is being removed, restored, and reinstalled, with surplus being reutilized in the building's interiors.

Located at 1401 Elm St., the building is the former First National Bank of Dallas, and has had a rocky road in its redevelopment, changing hands more than once and facing foreclosure a number of times. Drever Capital Management just secured a new loan; the project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2018, with the building opening in the first quarter of 2019.

But come on, let's get back to that divine marble: It was originally attached to the building during its construction in the early 1960s. Dense, handsomely veined white marble slabs came from a quarry in Mount Pentelikon, a mountain range located in Attica, Greece — the same quarry as the marble used to build the Parthenon, which itself very possibly may have also had some financing woes during its construction, and nobody talks about that now.

Steve McCoy, president of Drever Construction Co., worked with lead architect Merriman Anderson/Architects and contractor Andres Construction to develop a solution to remove, restore, and reinstall the slabs with new connections that will secure and stabilize the tower's exterior for decades to come — making these minor foreclosure concerns seem so utterly trivial.

The process provides a surplus marble and terrazzo that, to the delight of the project's interior designers, will be reused in the building’s interiors. Like marble, terrazzo is simply divine.

"The process will allow this irreplaceable stone to not only be restored to its former glory, but remain as a sound element of the building’s structure for many years to come," says McCoy in a release. "The fact that the team was able to find a way for the excess marble to be repurposed adds another layer of history to this already impressive structure."

The skyscraper originally was designed by architects George Dahl and Thomas E. Stanley and has been home to Hunt Oil, the Dallas Petroleum Club, and the fictitious J.R. Ewing’s staged office set for Ewing Oil in the TV show Dallas.

The midcentury, 52-story tower's distinctive façade was often compared to the pin-striped fabric of a traditional banker's suit because of the repeating pattern of white marble and dark gray floor-to-ceiling windows. The Drever redevelopment will include a luxury high-rise offering 324 residential units, a Thompson Hotel planned with 218 rooms, spa, retail, office, and destination restaurants.

The condition of the panels and the integrity of the building's engineering necessitated the decision to refurbish the marble. Existing mechanical connections were separating from the original structure. The panels will be refurbished by cladding the natural stone to a structural aluminum honeycomb backer panel, which will ensure the engineering integrity and the historical value of the original marble slabs.

Hycomb USA is responsible for the stone cutting and the application of the new structural aluminum honeycomb panel. Besides creating extra marble slabs for the building interiors, marble remnants from the cutting and cleaning process will be crushed and repurposed into terrazzo to be utilized in the elevator cab floors, elevator lobby flooring, and flooring on the ninth-floor amenity deck.

When completed, The Drever's eight-story tower base will be transformed into a dynamic area with more than 27,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, 44,000 square feet of office space, the hotel and residents' lobbies, and a grand ballroom.

A wraparound amenity deck with sightlines to surrounding buildings, including a resort quality pool, a spa, a health and fitness room, dog park, and outdoor recreation spaces will be on the ninth floor at the top of the base element. The 50th floor will feature an open-to-the-public observation deck.

Jerry Merriman, AIA, president of Merriman Anderson/Architects, says in a release that he commends Drever Capital Management for their commitment to the quality of the project. "Repurposing is generally more expensive and time-consuming than demolishing and replacing with new," Merriman says. "The building's owner, Maxwell Drever, appreciates the significance of this building to the history of downtown Dallas."