Feature Illustration (above): Aerial view of the upper section of Pioneer Tower (center), with Dickies Arena construction in the background (upper right). Courtesy: YouTube video screenshot.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Fort Worth (Tarrant County) — A renovation of Fort Worth’s iconic Pioneer Tower in Will Rogers Memorial Center is expected to begin next week.
Last week, City Council approved an expenditure of about $3.75 million for its rehabilitation. The plan is for the renovation to conclude in time to coincide with the completion of the new 14,000-seat Dickies Arena.
The arena is just south of the tower and should be finished by late 2019.
The renovation plan, presented to council by Public Events Director Kirk Slaughter involves removal of the aluminum grates from all sides of the 209-foot tower, and the re-lighting of the original glass blocks from within. Constructed in 1936, the tower was one of several Texas centennial projects done by the city, but the grates were added some time in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
The glass blocks will be replaced and LED lights installed on the interior. The lights can be changed to celebrate local events, such as purple for a Horned Frogs event or pink for the Stock Show, according to a City of Fort Worth project statement.
There will be a second project related to the tower; $325,000 was approved to add a public art feature to the tower. Fort Worth Public Art has proposed video projection mapping at Pioneer Tower. The technology turns building façades into surfaces for video projection. There was no project timeline mentioned on the public art feature.
The tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by architect Wyatt C. Hedrick who went with a mix of Classical Revival and Moderne styles.
It is flanked by the domed coliseum to the east and an auditorium to the west.
Ground view of Pioneer Tower from the entrance gates to Will Rogers Memorial Center. Image: Google Streets.