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Tandy Residence

Carol Highsmith, LOC
Carol Highsmith, Prints and Photographs Collection, Library of Congress

This luxury residence in the Westwood Hills suburb of Fort Worth, the wealthiest part of Texas in the 1960s, was commissioned by Anne Valliant Burnett Tandy, rancher, philanthropist, and heiress – reportedly the richest woman in the United States. She commissioned the 22,000-square-foot compound for living and entertaining, and for exhibition of her extensive art collection. Pei envisioned it as a house museum along the lines of the gracious Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

The house was executed in architectural concrete, of which Pei was an acknowledged master. It is vertically bush-hammered on the exterior to reveal warm pink-brown feldspar aggregates from Colorado Springs. While the exterior is largely closed for security, the board-formed concrete interior opens to its garden setting with balconies and landscaped terraces that integrate yet separate its various functions. A large, sloped skylight and clerestory windows complement and give focus to the art works displayed.


North, east elevations / Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Pei accepted this commission in his early days in Dallas, when he was just beginning work on a large municipal complex that would ultimately become Dallas City Hall. Dallas was then a tight-knit community of prominent city leaders; Pei perhaps imagined the house museum as a local foothold. But when “Miss Anne” focused on small matters of interior design and directed Pei to design a shoe closet, he felt the project strayed too far from its lofty cultural aspirations and turned it over to local architects for completion. One of only three executed private residences designed by Pei, he disowned it from his body of work.

Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Partner; Dale Booher, Design Architect
I.M. Pei & Associates