The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the “jewel” in Dallas’ newly named AT&T Performing Arts Center, seats 2,200 and is designed to accommodate opera, musical theater, ballet and other dance forms.

Photo: John W. Davis, DVD Design Group Inc,

Located on a five-acre site with landscaped plazas and a reflecting pool, the 220,000-sq-ft building is located in the heart of the Dallas arts district and is a monument to innovative and challenging construction. Delivered on time and on budget, the aesthetically dramatic and acoustically precise space fully serves its complex function while making an architectural statement.

The structure is wrapped in a red glass enclosure and a three-acre aluminum-clad steel canopy.

The complex project was designed by a signature European architect who brought to the table many design and construction practices that are not typical in a U.S. environment. Linbeck, the construction manager, coordinated myriad unusual processes and procedures and managed the schedules, activities and quality parameters of unique craftsmen, fabricators and manufacturers across the globe.

In addition, since the European design process continued to evolve throughout the building process, assuring the constructability of all interlocking components posed an unprecedented challenge for the construction team. To be able to quickly and precisely translate design changes or enhancements into detailed shop drawings was difficult, especially since many building components were dependent upon each other to assure building integrity. The dynamics of coordinating all these elements required an extraordinary coordination effort on the part of the construction management staff.

One of the most complicated aspects of the project was the lobby curtain-wall system, which was German-designed and manufactured. The steel mullions are 52 ft tall. The wall includes three operable segments, each 28 ft in length, which can be raised and lowered to open the building to the outdoors. According to its manufacturer, it is the largest vertically tracking glazed wall in the world.

To position the moveable segments of the 45,000-lb wall required drilling hundreds of holes in the structural steel columns to receive the operating wall. The job required a precision-driven level of coordination and accuracy far exceeding normal procedures and tolerances for structural steel.

Key Players

Submitted by: Linbeck Group LLC
Developer/owner: AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas
General contractor/construction manager: Linbeck Group LLC, Fort Worth
Architect: Foster + Partners, London
Civil engineer: Lopez Garcia Group (now URS), Dallas
Structural engineer: Thornton Tomasetti, Dallas
MEP engineer: CHP and Associates, Houston