Cheers for Peers
Teamwork by Manhattan Construction and
Thos. S. Byrne Helps Complete Pier 1's new Headquarters in
When the nation's largest retailer
of imported home furnishings needed a new home of its own,
the company thought globally and shopped locally. The result
is Fort Worth's first downtown high-rise in nearly a quarter
of a century.
The new $90 million corporate headquarters of Pier 1 Imports-a
20-story high-rise complementing the existing downtown Fort
Worth skyline-proves the value of teamwork.
Built in just 18 months, the 460,000-sq.-ft. office building
and adjoining 260,000-sq.-ft. parking deck is the product
of a team of 33 subcontractors chosen for their high-rise
expertise and ability to work with a tightly coordinated schedule.
Because leases on the three locations in Fort Worth that
previously housed the company's central office operations
were nearing expiration, Pier 1 needed occupancy in a shorter-than-usual
The selection of choice prefabricated materials, a generous
staging area, the participation of two architects and attention
to control measures from groundbreaking to occupancy were
also key advantages in speeding the process.
"When we began this project, we knew we wanted a knowledgeable
team with recent high-rise construction experience,"
said Jim Noack, Pier 1's director of architecture.
Pier 1 selected Dallas' Manhattan Construction Co. and Fort
Worth's Thos. S. Byrne Ltd. as joint general contractors.
The design team was headed by Duda/Paine Architects of Durham,
N.C. Houston-based Kendall/Heaton Associates served as the
architect of record.
The modern structure was designed to exhibit a timelessness
that is homey and worldly and simple yet strong, said Turan
Duda, design architect with Duda/Paine.
The reinforced-concrete structure clad in Italian stone,
aluminum and glass will house about 1,000 employees when it
opens in August. The prominent location is on an axis with
the Belknap Street thoroughfare on the northwest edge of the
city's central business district.
The building is the first high-rise built in downtown Fort
Worth in nearly a quarter of a century, and it gives occupants
a 180-degree view of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River and
a 180-degree view of downtown.
The facility includes conference and training facilities,
an employee fitness center, indoor and outdoor photo studios,
a merchandise-sample room and executive suites.
Pier 1 purchased the property-which is adjacent to an expansive
slope that runs to the Clear Fork of the Trinity River on
the west and north-after a tornado destroyed a large church
on the site four years ago. The high-rise and parking deck
sit on only four acres of the 13-acre parcel.
As sitework got under way, crews drilled 75 to 80 ft. into
the earth to hit solid rock for holding the concrete piers.
The uncommon depth was due to soil containing fill dirt with
a high plasticity-index factor, which meant it had a high
shrink/swell consistency, said Stephen Dunn of MBC/Dunn Consultants,
the owner's representative.
The fill dirt was added to the property 60 years ago when
the city moved the river one block west because of flooding
Drilling the piers took two months and overlapped with laying
the foundation, which took about three months. Desert Steel
of Fort Worth used steel rebar in pretied pier cages varying
in diameter from 18 to 100 in. Next, crews poured the columns,
walls and grade beams and structure slabs.
Two materials were used for below-grade waterproofing: peel-and-stick
membrane was applied to walls and asphalt was used on horizontal
The entire foundation and structural work using cast-in-place
concrete was completed in approximately one year while crews
began work on the curtain wall and elevators. "We were
installing stairs as we took the structure up," said
Keith Cooper, construction manager with Manhattan.
With acreage at a premium, staging of equipment and materials
was ideal. "That's rare, " Cooper said. "I've
done many jobs with zero lot lines, which is a logistical
The availability allowed for optimum positioning of two SK315
Peiner tower cranes on the north and south sides.
Workers poured and formed the concrete columns that would
create the system of lattice-like framework for holding interconnecting
panels of stone, glass and aluminum. This curtain wall system
served as a weatherproof envelope, tested to withstand wind
Steel would have affected the illumination desired for the
building and been more cost-prohibitive for the desired style,
The use of concrete also provided a more rigid frame and
more flexibility for exterior work.
"Concrete goes up slower, so this is just another kudo
for the team working with a short timeframe," Cooper
Another advantage of lot size was that architects could
create a horizontal parking structure that would not distract
from the external view of the office building. At its highest
point, the parking deck rises just 10 ft. The employee parking
deck on the southwest side holds 836 cars on four levels.
Speed of the structural formation allowed for interior work
to begin and progress even while exterior work was ongoing.
This overlapping or "stair-step timing" required
concentrated scheduling efforts for subcontractors, Cooper
"The overall spirit of cooperation among the engineers,
architects, design team and contractors, as well as Pier 1,
has been phenomenal, and that's what it takes," Cooper
The use of prefabricated materials aided the process. Crews
anchored 100-sq.-ft. glass and aluminum units to floors covering
two stories at a time. The exterior "skin" was assembled
at the factory, which allowed for maximum sealing.
Each unit weighs about 11 lbs. and is capable of being positioned
in 15 minutes and anchored in one hour, said Chuck Knickerbocker
of Curtainwall Design and Consulting of Dallas.
Despite prefabrication, the materials used were contoured
to retain a customized presentation and visible appeal.
Prefabrication of stone, aluminum and glass permitted a system
of fitting elements along a frame. The process resulted in
the completion of one floor per week.
"We weren't glazing and adding a window system with
a separate contractor hanging stone," Dunn said. "The
stone and windows were designed as one package."
Part of the speed was accomplished by the continuous vertical
placement of stone. With the exterior shape stepping in at
floors 16 and 18, the building seems to have a series of layered
jackets, with the stone, glass and aluminum creating a "vertical
articulation," Duda said.
Architects decided on slabs of Italian quartz-like stone
(from Henraux fabricators of Versilia, Italy) with the idea
that it would achieve the reflection desired for a building
designed to glow by sunlight during the day and be backlit
Similarly, the exterior glass provides a reflectivity in
tune with sky and light rather than a mirroring. The double-paned
and insulated glass is 1 1/8 in. thick with a coating that
cuts UV rays.
The crest itself is crown-shaped, while the building's lattice-work
of concrete columns extends to the roof where it will hold
large sheets of brightly backlit glass. The decorative addition
hides the cooling tower, mechanical room and HVAC units and
lighting mechanics. Platforms hold the three cooling towers
20 ft. off the roof to minimize disruption to the executive
"There is more glass up there than we normally see atop
a building," said Craig Hawkins of Fort Worth's Brandt
With the exterior taking shape and floors quickly being
sealed off, interior crews worked to complete the blueprints.
Programming and stacking was accomplished by Gensler of Dallas,
the interior architect.
A 15,000-sq.-ft. lobby feeding in from the main entrance
features walls of Italian traverten silver-gray stone and
amber-toned paneling. With the ceiling at 25 ft. up, the wall
material varies from stone to wood panels. On the lobby's
exterior circumference, the largest panels of glass throughout
the building let in natural light.
No less attention was paid to the main employee entrance.
On the building's back or west side, the terrace level is
also at grade level, although one floor is lower than the
lobby. Employees entering the building will walk from the
parking deck through a ramp of glass walls. For service deliveries,
the loading dock is accessible via a ramp below the street
on the building's south side and can accommodate four 18-wheel
freight trucks at a time.
Above the lobby, a mezzanine level is visible from the main
entrance due to three large balconies, which offer company
leaders a podium from which to address employees in the lobby
Management offices are located along the exterior glass
walls, and glass partitions in those areas allow natural light
to flow into the open office space inside. The glass partitions
were installed by James R. Thompson Inc. of Dallas, the interior
Electrical lighting fixtures mounted on the ceilings were
chosen as a compromise between direct lighting and limited
lighting. The ceiling mounts shine light upward and acoustical
ceiling tiles bounce light downward to produce what Duda calls
The office floors are designed on access flooring that is
easily unscrewed from the subfloor. Panels are steel in honeycombed
patterns filled with concrete for bearing weight. Beneath
the removable panels are electricity and telecommunication
connections as well as linkage to heating and cooling ventilation.
As a floor's arrangement changes due to new work demands,
electricity and technology outlets can be dropped beneath
the panels for quick set-up and reconnection.
A 7,000-sq.-ft. data room providing all computer technology
infrastructure of Pier 1 stores worldwide is located on the
eighth floor. Due to the access flooring underneath, moving
in equipment weighing several thousand pounds required special
maneuvering, managed by the interior contractor.
General Contractors: Manhattan
Construction Co., Dallas and Thos S. Byrne, Fort Worth
Owner: Pier 1 Imports, Fort
Development Manager: MBC/Dunn
Consultants, Fort Worth
Design Architect: Duda/Paine
Architects, Durham, N.C.
Architect of Record: Kendall/Heaton
Interior contractor: James
R. Thompson Inc., Dallas
Structural Engineer: Brockette/Davis/Drake
Civil Engineer: Dunaway
Assoc., Fort Worth
MEP Engineer: James Johnston
& Assoc., Dallas
Electrical Engineer: Walker
HVAC and Plumbing Engineer:
Brandt Engineering, Fort Worth
Pier Rebar: Desert Steel,
Pier Concrete: Hanson PLC,
Glass and Glazing: Haley-Greer