George L. Dahl, FAIA
Dallas knows George Dahl (1894-1988) primarily for his work at Fair Park. In 1935 his drawings and salesmanship were instrumental in bringing the Texas Centennial Exposition to Dallas, and he was named its chief architect. Earlier he had participated in designing three prominent department stores in downtown Dallas: Neiman Marcus (1927-28, additions 1940); Titche-Goettinger (1931); and Volk Brothers (1930), the first fully air-conditioned building in Dallas.
His buildings at the 1936 Texas Centennial (which repeated in 1937 as the Pan American Exposition) serve as a reminder that Mr. Dahl is a man whose legacy was nothing less than a National Historic Landmark. His legacy includes his influence on a generation of prominent architects and the way they practiced.
By the time he retired in 1973, Mr. Dahl had designed more than 3,000 buildings and structures. In the Dallas area these include the First National Bank Building, The Earl Cabell Federal Building, The Dallas Morning News building, Jesuit High School and the Southern Methodist University Fine Arts Center. George Dahl also designed RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. and the Tampa, Florida Convention Center.
The members of Fifth Church were wisely guided in 1950 when George Dahl was engaged to design our edifice. It is a classic of contemporary design. It has “worn well” through the years and, properly maintained, will continue to serve the congregation far into the future. Our edifice has been compared with that of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Zurich, Switzerland, another example of outstanding contemporary work.
Fifth Church was honored by the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in the 29th annual Building Design Awards. Our church received a Merit Award for a building at least 25 years old. The jurors were noted architects from California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The award certificate commended our edifice for using natural light as an essential design element with a basic form, restrained materials and unadorned interior (The Dallas Morning News, May 22, 1996).
The June 1996 issue of D Magazine included the Fifth Church edifice in an article of “Best Examples of Modern Architecture in Dallas”. Below a photograph of Fifth Church appeared the following comment: “We know Dahl primarily for his work at Fair Park. This masterpiece of 1950s ecclesiastical architecture is among the best – and best maintained – modernist buildings in Dallas.”
Widower George Dahl married a student of Christian Science in his later years, and this lovely couple occasionally attended services at Fifth Church