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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Top 100: Industry Award Architecture: John Roberts

John Roberts

Halbach-Dietz Architects  

6913 Camp Bowie Blvd.

Fort Worth 76116

817-737-0725

www.halbachdietz.com

Growing up in Fort Worth John Roberts doesn’t remember a time he wasn’t interested in construction and architecture.

“I remember going downtown to go to Leonards with my family and looking at the – what I thought of then as – big skyscrapers and just liking it,” says Roberts, 59. “I guess I started out early knowing I wanted to do something like that and I’ve been pursuing that ever since.”

Leonard Bros., for those who don’t know, was a multiblock downtown department store that was the center of commerce for many in Fort Worth until the 1970s.

After graduating from R.L. Paschal High School in 1976, Roberts received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1980 and a master’s degree in architecture from the same school in 1983. He has been pursuing his early childhood dream ever since.

Currently an architect with Halbach-Dietz Architects, a well-respected firm that specializes in commercial, retail and industrial architecture, Roberts stays busy in his profession.

But luckily for Fort Worth, he has been sharing his passion for the city, for architecture and construction with others for several years. How?

First through a website he started 20 years ago called Fort Worth Architecture. The site catalogs the many buildings, past, present and proposed in and around Fort Worth. Though the site was launched in 1997, Roberts traces its origins to 1983, when he completed his master’s thesis on downtown Fort Worth.

His second approach is the Fort Worth Forum section of the architecture website. That section covers subjects from new developments and local history to long gone but fondly remembered restaurants and fast-food establishments.

And, most recently, Roberts is chairman of Historic Fort Worth Inc., an organization established in 1969 that shares many of his own interests: preserving Fort Worth’s historic identity through stewardship, education and leadership.

The organization annually posts a list of “Endangered Places,” with the goal of shining some much-needed light on often neglected historic resources.

In late May, Historic Fort Worth worked with Embrey Partners of San Antonio, which is building apartments on the bluff side of Samuels Avenue, to move one of Fort Worth’s historic treasures, the Talbott-Wall House at 915 Samuels Ave., to save it from the wrecking ball.

Along with his other work, Roberts often gives talks about Fort Worth architecture to groups visiting his city.

“I think they’re surprised on the rich architecture we have here and how we have quite a number of buildings by world-renowned architects,” he says.

But you don’t have to be an outsider to hear tales of Fort Worth’s past, present and future.

Roberts recently began contributing to a walking tour, with some help from others, that integrates history, architecture and personal anecdotes, primarily about downtown Fort Worth.

For more information about the walking tours:

www.facebook.com/walkFW

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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