by Susanna Brown
When Braniff Airways opened its new operations center at Love Field in 1958, crowds of people came to tour the three-level building on Lemmon Avenue. Braniff's base was even bigger than the new Love Field passenger terminal across the tarmac. The ultra modern building had offices in front and hangars out back that were oversized to accommodate the new Boeing 707 "jet liners" Dallas' hometown airline was just putting into service.
Back in the day, more than 2,500 Braniff workers were based out of the Lemmon Avenue complex, which was hailed as "the newest, most modern aviation plant of its kind in the nation." For more than a decade, the big metal and glass buildings on the east side of Love Field have sat crumbling. Designed by noted international architects William Pereira and Charles Luckman and local designer Mark Lemmon, Braniff's old Love Field home was threatened with demolition. Local preservationists and Braniff alums led the fight to get the buildings designated a national landmark.
Wide sidewalks, cycling paths and crosswalks, need to be installed to allow neighbors easier access to the new facility
Now a $140 million redevelopment project is turning Braniff's old digs into a mixed-use development. The project redevelopers have preserved the front of the old buildings facing Lemmon. Out back where the hangars and maintenance facilities were, the building has been carved up to create a huge internal court. On the front of the building facing Lemmon, restaurant and retail space will be set aside. And part of the three-level glass and steel entry building will house offices.
The Arnold Cos' TAC Air subsidiary is taking about 200,000 square feet of the complex for a commercial aviation center that will offer private hangars, an executive terminal and concierge and valet services. Ohio-based Flexjet LLC is also moving its Dallas-area operations to the 26-acre complex Braniff Centre. The fractional jet ownership company will move workers into 32,000 square feet of offices and open a private terminal and 60,000-square-foot maintenance hangar.
The first sections of Braniff Centre will start opening next year, 60 years after the complex held its grand opening.