Forest City

"The Merc is a great example of the Art Deco sub-genre I call ‘streamlined civic heroic.' With its powerful vertical emphasis and cut limestone skin, it reminds me of Rockefeller Center. The simplicity of the exterior detailing and freedom from ornaments make the building's mass a great foil for the jolt of neon on the blade sign and the badge of the clock face—striking accessories on the architectural equivalent of a ‘little black dress.'"

Mercantile Place on Main | Location: Dallas | Architect: Walter W. Ahlschlager | Year Built: 1942 | Units: 213 | Notable: The 31-story structure, known for its four-sided clock tower and weather spire, was the only U.S. skyscraper built during World War II.

Daniel Gehman, AIA, is principal of Thomas P. Cox: Architects and manager of the firm's Los Angeles office.