Tony A. Smith





Some people call this building the “keyhole building” since it has a six story opening near the top that kind of looks like a keyhole. This is actually a 55 story tower located in Dallas, Texas know as the JP Morgan Chase Tower. It is 738 feet tall and was developed by Trammell Crow Company in 1987.

At one time Trammell Crow Company was the largest private developer in the nation.  Trammell Crow was responsible for the development of the five million square foot Dallas Market Center, Ebarcadero Center in San Francisco, and the Chase Tower in Dallas. I had the good fortune of working for Mr. Crow in Houston as a Construction Manager back in the 1980’s. Trammell Crow Company in Houston was responsible for developing more than twenty million square feet of buildings.

The very first building that Trammell Crow developed was a warehouse in 1948. Trammell leased the majority of the building to Ray-O-Vac Battery Company and the remainder to Decca Records. At a company meeting one year in Dallas, Trammell conveyed the story of his first building and the relationship he had with his general contractor.

When I built my first building in Dallas I didn’t have any plans to speak of.  All I did was draw on the back of an envelope the dimensions and shape of the warehouse building that I wanted my contractor to build. I paced it off in the field that day and marked where I thought each corner should go on the lot.  After that we agreed on a price. We looked each other in the eyes and shook hands. We had no paper contracts.  Our handshake was our contract and our word was our bond.  The construction went remarkably well. Could you do that today?  The answer is most likely not since we live in such a litigious society now.  Everyone is trying to take advantage of each other and are more interested in their own interests.  The contracting business is a hard business and I believe we should pay a fair price for what they do.”

As you can see things were a bit different back in 1948.  Honoring your word is still the best bond we could ever hope to have.  I suppose though that we have drifted so far in society that we need lawyers to keep us in check when our handshakes don’t.


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