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Harwell Harris Houses - Texas State Fair House, Dallas (1954)

George Smart

Silent | 1954

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  •  View of the roof in progress 
  •  Roof and walls 
  •  Roof and upper windows 
  •  Patio with table, chairs, and pergola 
  •  Yard and nearby buildings 
  •  Construction and a view of the house from the street 
  •  Clips of the house from different perspectives 
  •  Signage announcing the House Beautiful Commission of a "Pace Setter House" in Dallas for the year 1955 
  •  Building the stone walls 
  •  House from across the street 
  •  Construction 
  •  Roof construction 
  •  House with the yard and street 
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  • About the video
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This footage documents the construction and finished exterior of the Texas State Fair House, also named the House Beautiful Pace Setter House, in Dallas on the State Fair grounds. The house was designed by famed architect Harwell Harris and his students in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas in Austin. Harris was the Dean of the School of Architecture when he got the commission from House Beautiful Magazine to build the home for the 1954 State Fair of Texas. The design and construction of the house presented Harris with an opportunity to let his students work on a real project, from conception to completion. Harris had been seeking just such an opportunity for much of his time at UT, a teaching method that was both innovative and controversial at the time. Students chosen to work on the project included David Barrow, Don Legge, Bill Hoff, Neil Lacey, Pat Chumney, and Haldor Nielsen. The home’s construction was also sponsored by Dallas Power & Light Company and General Electric to publicize all-electric home living, and the Dallas Home Builders Association volunteered the labor and construction supervision. The home’s design featured the Craftsman-like style of Harris’ late work in California and included extended rafters from the gabled wings of the house, board and batten construction, and a white gravel roof.
Harwell Hamilton Harris was born in 1903 in Redlands, California. He spent his early adulthood in Los Angeles where he began art school for sculpting until he visited Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, and his career path changed to that of architecture. Harris never completed any formal architecture education, instead learning on the job at the offices of renowned architects Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. Harris left to establish his own firm in L.A. in 1933, working on small modular homes to which he applied the modernist architecture principles he learned under Neutra and Schindler. He taught at Columbia University for one year and in 1952, accepted the position of Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas. He expanded the school's programs and teaching methods, offering students hands-on design and construction experience on projects such as the Texas State Fair House (1954). Harris hired faculty whose innovative ideas and reputations garnered them nickname of the "Texas Rangers" in the architecture world. Harris' methods became a source of tension at UT, and he resigned in 1955. He moved to Dallas and established a private practice where he built modern homes adapted to the Texas landscape and climate. Harris' work received numerous awards throughout his career, and appeared in many exhibitions, including ones at the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art. Harris passed away in 1990, leaving his drawings and design material to the Center for the Study of American Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.