Braniff History Today - 1/22/1956

BRANIFF HISTORY TODAY - On this day, Sunday, January 22, 1956, Braniff International Airways President Charles Edmund Beard announced plans for a spectacular new Corporate Headquarters and Administration Building on the grounds of the new $125 million USD Exchange Park Office Development located southwest of Dallas Love Field. The new Exchange Park Headquarters was the third major administration facility that Braniff occupied since its founding in 1928.

Braniff Tower at Exchange Park would feature ten stories and was constructed in the mid century style that was popular during the 1950s. Square footage encompassed 16500 square feet per floor for a total of 165,000 (current owner UT Southwestern states 175,000) with each floor featuring movable metal wall partitions that would allow quick overnight changes in floor space configuration to meet changing office size requirements.

Located on 120 wooded acres, the Braniff Building would be located at the east end of an air-conditioned mall that would feature an array of shops and restaurants. The mall would connect Braniff Tower, via a short walk, to the new Exchange Bank Building on the west end of the Exchange Park development. Dallas-based, Lane, Gamble, and Associates was primary architects for the Braniff Building and Exchange Park development.

Braniff initially moved into the Exchange Bank Building at the end of March 1957, and occupied the second floor and basement of the bank building until the Braniff Building was ready for occupancy on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1958. Braniff was required to move early to Exchange Bank because the new Dallas Love Field Terminal on Cedar Springs Road was nearing completion and demolition of the Roanoke Drive Headquarters was needed to complete the new terminal's concourses.

Exchange Park was developed by Braniff's largest shareholder and Director William Arvin Blakley, who also headed the Blakley/Braniff Foundation. Mr. Blakley would later become a United States Senator first in 1957, replacing Senator Price Daniel, who opted to fill the vacated Governorship of Texas and in 1961 he served out the reaminder of Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson's term after he was elected Vice President in 1960. Blakley's Exchange Park would be the first and largest completely integrated business center in the United States and plans called for five multi-story office buildings that included a clinical center, luxury hotel, major department stores and retail shops. It would also be the first high-rise construction outside of the downtown Dallas complex. However, ultimately only Braniff Tower, the Mall, and Exchange Bank were initially built but in 1965 the Herman Lay Tower was added between the two original buildings on the south side of the mall.

An addition was planned to the east of the Braniff Building, across Forest Park Road, that would have included a large hospital complex. However, this was never completed and is now a parking lot and apartment complex. The walkway in front of Braniff Tower flows upward and around in front of the building and then abruptly stops. This walkway was planned to continue across Forest Park over to the hospital. Only a service facility and parking lot were actually built across Forest Park.

The Braniff Building would face Forest Park Road on the east side or front of the building and would be constructed of glass and bright blue ceramic panels. The west side of the building would feature similar construction but the housing for the four large elevators would disrupt the windows which would be covered in unique sun shade panel structures. The north and south ends of the building would be solid cast stone without windows.

Exchange Park was located a mile southwest of Love Field with Inwood Road bordering the south, Harry Hines Boulevard on the west, and Mockingbird Lane on the north. Huge red letters spelling Braniff Airways would be placed on the air conditioner housings on top of the building that would be visible not only from the ground but from departing aircraft at Dallas Love Field. The original plans called for the Braniff letter to be lit at night and for the 1948 International script to be included between Braniff and Airways but both were never executed.

The top floor of the Braniff Building would house Executive Offices and other departments such as Traffic and Sales, Treasury, Public Relations, and Accounting as well as other departments would be housed in the lower floors. Braniff would be basically the only tenant and would also be the first to occupy a building in the Exchange Park Complex beginning in March 1957. However, the Exchange Savings and Loan was also located in the lobby on the northeast corner of the tower near the main entrance doors.

Braniff Airways first moved its Maintenance Operations into a small hangar near the old Love Field Drive Terminal Building at the northwest corner of Love Field on November 27, 1934. In November 1941, the Oklahoma-based airline began moving all airline administration offices to Dallas Love Field into a new red brick two-story complex in the center of the airport where the 1958 terminal stands today. The Red Brick administration building was located at 3309 Roanoke Drive and was the second corporate office to house Braniff since its founding in 1928.

Previously, the airline was housed at the Braniff Building in downtown Oklahoma City, where Braniff Insurance Company was headquartered. Braniff would remain at the Roanoke Drive facility until moving to Exchange Park in March 1957. The airline would later move from Exchange Park to a beautiful employee playground-style World Headquarters facility located at Dallas/Ft. Worth Regional Airport, called Braniff Place, in December 1978.

The exterior of the building has only undergone minor modifications since construction was completed in early 1958. The tenth floor executive gardens on the east side of he building were enclosed in with glass that looked similar to the other floors after Braniff left the facility. The interior lobby has been slightly changed with a complete updating and modernization of the upper floors. The building was purchased by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2008 and renamed Bass Center Tower One, which was previously owned by ATT.

UT Southwestern purchased the Exchange Park development for $38 million USD. Chase Bank currently occupies the lobby of Exchange Bank Tower and UT Southwestern occupies the rest of the building as well as the center tower that previously housed Frito Lay Corporation. The building is the site for the first Braniff Airways Foundation Braniff Trail Historical Plaque, which marks the building's contribution to Braniff's history and legacy, which was dedicated on May 9, 2016.

Postcard: A 1966 postcard, looking southeast,features the three main buildings of the Exchange Park Complex, which included Braniff Tower on the left with blue ceramic-coated panels, the Frito-Lay Tower, built in 1966, and the Exchange Park Bank Tower with yellow panels. Braniff first moved into the basement and second floor of the Exchange Bank Tower until its own tower was completed in February 1958.

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Postcard: Braniff Flying Colors Collection