The WFAA Studios, Designed by George Dahl, Rendered by Ed Bearden — 1961

by Paula Bosse

wfaa_george-dahl_ed-bearden_postcard“Communications Center…”  (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, the WFAA studios, seen in a wonderful painting by Dallas artist Ed Bearden. The image is from a postcard touting the brand new ultra-modern building designed by one of Dallas’ top architects, the prolific George L. Dahl. The building still stands at Young and Record streets, next to the home of its then-sister-company, The Dallas Morning News (appropriately, the News building was also designed by Dahl … as was the soon-to-be HQ of The News, the old Dallas Public Library at Commerce and Harwood).

The super-cool mid-century “WFAA AM-FM-TV broadcasting plant” was completed in 1961. It opened to much fanfare in April of that year, with star-studded festivities featuring personal appearances by a host of ABC stars such as Connie Stevens, Johnny Crawford, and Nick Adams. If catching a glimpse of “Cricket” or the Rifleman’s son didn’t wow you, the public was also invited to tour the building and gawk at its state-of-the-art radio and television studios. This large 68,000-square-foot building allowed WFAA radio and WFAA-TV to be housed under the same roof. Before this, the AM and FM radio stations were broadcasting from studios atop the Santa Fe Building, and Channel 8 was broadcasting from their television studios on Harry Hines, at Wolf (studios which they sold to KERA at the end of 1959).

Aside from the innovative “folded-plate” concrete roof, one of the first things I noticed about this building was the staircase behind a “wall” of plate glass — I was instantly reminded of the staircase from the old Rogers Electric building (now Steinway Hall) on the Central Expressway service road at McCommas — all it needed was a gigantic ficus tree. (Unsurprisingly, that building — built in 1959 — was also designed by the very, very busy George Dahl.)

Cool building, cool architectural design, cool artistic rendering.

**

Below is an early pre-construction rendering of the WFAA building, from 1959.

wfaa_bw_rendering_1959

*

And a photo from the early 1970s.

wfaa_texas-almanac_1974-75

*

And here’s a view taken from the side of the building in 1963, looking toward Young Street.

wfaa_news-vehicles_belo-records_degolyer_smu_1963

*

The early-’70s photo above was taken from this ad from the 1974-75 Texas Almanac. Ah, “Communications Center.” (I have to say, I’ve never heard of “WFAA-FM Stereo 98” nor their slogan “The Velvet Sound of Beautiful Music.” In fact, by the time this edition of the Almanac was published, WFAA-FM no longer existed — it had changed both its name — to KZEW — and its format — to rock.)

wfaa_texas-almanac_1974-75_portal

***

Color postcard found on the entertaining blog Texas Pop Culture; see the post — which includes scans of the reverse side of the card — here.

Bearden’s signature is a bit hard to make out — the slightly distorted magnified signature can be seen here.

The more I see of Ed Bearden’s work, the more I like it. See his Dallas skyline from 1958 here; see his Dallas skyline from 1959 here.

Photo of the Channel 8 news vehicles is from the Belo Records collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo is here.

More on architect George L. Dahl can be found at the Handbook of Texas, here, and at Wikipedia, here.

Read more about the history of FM radio in Dallas — including histories of WFAA-FM and KZEW — at the indispensable website of local broadcasting history — DFW Retroplex, here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

*

Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements