Meyerson Symphony Center was Pei’s second major public building project in Dallas, commissioned four years after the completion of Dallas City Hall. The new building, undertaken to help anchor the fledgling downtown Arts District, was actually two buildings in one. The first is a 2,666-seat concert chamber in a traditional “shoebox” configuration, hermetically sealed to keep out urban bustle. The second, just the opposite, is an intricately glazed wrap-around public lobby designed to invite the city inside. Rather than design an exclusive center for music impresarios and high culture, Pei created an inclusive public institution for all to enjoy, whether sitting in the audience, attending a special event in the lobby, or simply walking down the street in full view of what’s taking place inside.
Meyerson was a momentous project, filled with firsts for Pei. It was the first time he’d ever designed a world-class symphony center, the first time he had to share equal responsibility for a building with someone else (the acoustician), the first time Pei explored radial geometry in built form, and the first time he used Computer-aided design, here to preview the surprising spatial complexity that circles allow.