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Opened in 1956 on 700 acres of windswept prairie overlooking Dallas and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, the campus of the University of Dallas consists of rolling terrain, mesquite, oak native, and some wetland areas.
The University's first six buildings were typical 1950's warehouse-looking brick structures. And, in the habit of the period, the land was cleared before building. However, with the hiring of the late O'Neil Ford in 1959, the father of southwest architecture, to create the first of the six Haggerty Art Buildings, the attitude about campus architecture and response to its environment changed dramatically. Patrons Beatrice and Patrick Haggerty selected Ford, who had already completed significant structures at Texas Instruments, Inc., of which Mr. Haggerty was a principal.
Ford and his firm Ford, Powell, & Carson of San Antonio, with associated architects Landry and Landry, soon became the campus architects. With Sam Sisman, they established a campus plan that tied the earlier far-flung buildings together around the brick and stone Braniff Mall. It, along with The Braniff Graduate Building and Tower, was constructed in memory of Bess and Tom Braniff, founder of Braniff Airways. These structures and the other prizewinning Ford-designed or influenced buildings, such as the Gorman Lecture Center, J.M. Haggar Center addition, Haggerty Science Center, Church of the Incarnation (designed by Landry and Landry), and the recent addition to the Haggerty Art Village by Gary Cunningham, reflect the fundamental Ford aesthetic of providing orderly, gracious spaces of quiet, well-crafted architecture. They reflect the clarity and subtlety of Ford's vernacular Mediterranean style and have been integrated into the environment through the landscape design of Lyle Novinski, long-time chair of the Art Department.
The campus is at the eastern edge of the nationally-known planned development, Las Colinas, between Highways 114 and 183. The 300-acre core campus has been reserved as an academic oasis in the burgeoning Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis. Outlying areas of University property are being appropriately developed.
Dillon, David. The Architecture of O'Neil Ford: Celebrating Place. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1999.