Fort Worth

Dickies Arena Architect Sees His Work in Action for Rodeo

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The 23-day Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is about half done, and so far more than 100,000 people have seen rodeos in the inaugural year at Dickies Arena.

There's one VIP who got his first look at it in action this past weekend.

"I couldn't be more pleased with the buildings, and what really makes me happy is that everyone else loves the building," said David Schwarz, the Washington-based architect who designed the $540 million multipurpose arena.

The first David Schwarz project in North Texas was a private home. The first public project was Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Schwarz shares a conversation decades ago that laid the foundation for his designs.

Schwarz has been to two concerts at Dickies, but Saturday night was the first time to see it in action for a rodeo.

"I think it looks great," he told NBC 5 n an exclusive interview as he came to town to celebrate his 69th birthday with friends. As we walked around the bowl before the start of the rodeo, Schwarz revealed that Dickies is his first-ever rodeo arena but the mission was very clear.

"Our instruction really was to build a world-class arena that fits with the rest of the cultural district," he said.

Photos: Dickies Arena Architect Watches Venue’s First Rodeo

Dickies sits on Gendy Street in the Cultural District, and just steps from the grounds of Will Rogers Memorial Center where the stock show is in its 124th year.

Schwarz says he and his team went to other rodeos in Canada and Las Vegas but brought none of what they saw to Fort Worth.

"Fort Worth has a long tradition of rodeo and western culture, and we thought it was very important that we be an extension of that rather than a departure from that. We really wanted to carry Fort Worth's traditions of rodeo and horsemanship and cattle forward."

The project includes a 560,000 square foot arena, a 156,000 square foot livestock support building, a 2,220 space parking garage and a 215,000 square foot landscaped plaza. It's a palace built for rodeo and the fans who come to see it.

Photos: Dickies Arena Architect Watches Venue’s First Rodeo

"We design our buildings for the people. we don't design them for architecture critics. And what's important to me, is that the people who use them love them," Schwarz said.

So in the arena bowl, Schwarz wants people to "focus on the action. In the rest of the building, there are lots of things I want people to notice. One of the things that is amazing in this building are the floors. You'll find there are lots of rope designs, stars of Texas here and there, and really the floors in here are quite wonderful."

Schwarz also points to the native Texas grasses found carved into the metal railings and in the carpet and dishes found in the Avion and Reliant Clubs for premium ticket holders.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo ushered in a new era Friday night in its brand new home, Dickies Arena.

It's that detail that often makes a Schwarz-designed building recognizable, and there are dozens of them in North Texas.

In Fort Worth, Schwarz's style is stamped on the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, Sundance Square Plaza, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Tarrant County Law Center and his first and favorite project in town, Cook Children's Medical Center. "And the reason for that is, it is the project that changes most people's lives."

Schwarz's other projects include the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco and Southlake Town Square in Southlake.

"I keep coming back because they invite me. It's fairly simple," he said. "I think we have done enough work here and spent enough time here that we have a real sense of understanding of North Texas history. And I think that what we have tried to do is build buildings that reinforce the traditions of North Texas."

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