City Hall

Hop Inside the 500-Foot-Tall Fair Park Tower Ride With the Architect Who Designed It

Couldn't make it to Monday's Landmark Commission meeting, during which there was discussion of the proposed 500-foot-tall Top of Texas Centennial Tower at Fair Park that State Fair of Texas president Errol McKoy hopes to plant in his summertime Midway. But this afternoon I spoke with Good Fulton & Farrell's Jon Rollins, the tower's designer, who provides a few more details.

Chief among them, says Rollins: It is, in fact, a ride -- which is to say, the observation deck (an enclosed doughnut, as the architect refers to it) will make a complete rotation on its way up and again on its way down. Says Rollins, the whole experience -- from loading to unloading -- should take about five to seven minutes, with one minute spent on the ascension, one spent at the top, and another spent coming down.

"The way the cabin works is, it's a big doughnut with an entry on one side and exit doors on the other," he explains. "The boarding line splits both ways around the circle, and the seats fill from the exit door back toward the entrance. You're seated for the entire duration of the ride, and there's not a lot of circulation space." He says it'll be fabricated in Luxembourg, and directs our attention to other so-called gyro towers for further sneak peeks at how it'll work and what it'll look like.

Now, then, to the question of the radio tower right next to the Top of Texas Centennial Tower.

Several Friends of Unfair Park wondered on Monday if it'll come down or be moved, seeing as how it's uncomfortably close to the proposed ride. Rollins says, as a matter of fact, the radio tower was the one significant item of discussion at Monday's meeting, and that Craig Holcomb and the Friends of Fair Park are spearheading an effort to move the thing.

There's but one problem -- three, actually: That tower currently houses private cell-carrier equipment, Dallas Police and Fire-Rescue equipment, not to mention equipment vital to WRR-FM's operations.

"Erroll would like it to go, and everyone who has seen the presentation knows why we'd like it to go away," Rollins says. "But, politically it's pretty complicated to move all that. My guess is, it will move eventually but not by the time the ride opens."

That's slated for the summer of 2013, when McKoy hopes to open The Midway.

"It may not be a thing people ride every year," Rollins say of the tower, which he equates to "riding a Ferris wheel." But, he says, "the views will really be extraordinary."