Monday, June 14, 2021
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City Council: Will Rogers tower to see renovation

🕐 3 min read

During its work session, the City Council heard a presentation on the proposed renovation of Pioneer Tower, the iconic center of the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

Kirk Slaughter, director of the city’s public events department, said the plan for the tower, built in 1938, is to clean it, remove grates on the side, and take it back to its original form, including lights where the grates currently are.

Slaughter said LED lights are suggested so they can change color.

Slaughter said the estimated budget for the renovation is $1.5 million, which will come out of the culture and tourism fund. The goal is to complete the project by the time the new Dickies Arena opens in November of 2019.

“We want to have this completed so we can light the tower (when the arena opens),” Slaughter said.

Slaughter also introduced a new logo with the tower in a bronze design. Ray Gallegos with Utility Design Co. created the new mark and logo.

“While we love the western heritage of Fort Worth’s Molly logo, we needed to develop a better sense of identity for Will Rogers Memorial Center,” said Slaughter, in a later news release from the city. “Will Rogers Memorial Center has become one of the most significant equestrian event centers in the world, and since we are marketing to and competing for the top equine events from across the U.S., we feel it is important and the right time to create a better sense of visual identity with a new logo and rebranding.”

The Will Rogers complex was designed by Wyatt Hedrick with Herman Koeppe in 1936. The Art Deco main building features the iconic 209-foot-tall Pioneer Tower with a domed coliseum to the east and an auditorium to the west.

Martha Peters of Fort Worth Public Art said her organization’s plan is to make Pioneer Tower an iconic public art project. She suggested using the tower for projection mapping, such as was displayed during the recent Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

“Imagine, if you will, Pioneer Tower as a three-dimensional canvass,” she said.

Other cities with projection mapping projects include Sydney, Montreal and Santa Monica.

“These events draw national and international events. They bring new visitors, and they excite local residents because they see their city in a new way,” Peters said.

District 5 Council Member Gyna Bivens said, “I see it as a wayfinding opportunity, whatever we’ve got going on. I like the idea.”

Peters said her organization has asked artists Joshua King and Shane Pennington to be consultants on the project.

The next step, Peters said, is for the Art Commission and project stakeholders to review the project plan, followed by bringing a proposal to the council in August. Of course, the unveiling would be at the opening of the Dickies Arena.

Mayor Betsy Price said this could serve as a way for the museums, the rodeo, or other events in the area to promote themselves.

“I’ve actually seen the Vidid Sydney and it was beautiful,” she said.

District 3 Council Member Brian Byrd thought of another celebratory moment the tower could be used for. “When the Horned Frogs win a national championship, we’ll put purple on all four sides.”

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