The  72nd  Floor


Recently I had the extraordinary opportunity to visit the 72nd floor of the Bank of America building in downtown Dallas.  Since there isn't the slightest chance that the average person could ever visit this site, I'm posting the pictures here as a public service.

If you're one of those "urban exploration" people who likes to go places you're not supposed to be, you can forget about visiting the 72nd floor because the security is very tight.  There are cameras and guards everywhere.  Every door is locked, and only the security guards (not even the regular visitors) have keys to some of them.

A substantial percentage of the value of this building is in its height.  Not only is it enormously valuable as a platform for all these racks of radio gear, there is a traditional competition amongst bankers to have the tallest bank building in any big city.  This is part of the reason for the vertical growth of downtown Dallas during the 1980's and 1990's.

Update:  Another broadcast engineer recently pointed out that the facilities pictured here are actually on the 73rd floor.  The elevator stops at 72, and then there's another flight of stairs up to a (locked) door on the 73rd floor.  I don't know... the KDFW suite is Room 7206, so maybe the 72nd floor itself is just really tall.

Click to enlarge but note:  the full-size pictures are over 400 k-bytes each.



Click to enlarge The 72nd floor holds an amazing array of equipment racks containing radio and TV equipment of every sort.  This is a really nice facility.

Click to enlarge This appears to be an assortment of microwave relays, cell phones, two-way radios, amateur radio (and ham TV), and government communications equipment.

Click to enlarge The hallway on the west side of the 72nd floor has one unusual feature:  Each window has a number.  Figuring out the purpose of these numbers is left to the reader as an exercise.  The view from here is great, even on a smoggy day, which this was.  Airplanes approaching Love Field sometimes fly rather close to these windows, adding to the excitement.

Click to enlarge Here is Dennis, the KDFW-TV technician who keeps the "Tower Cams" clean and fixes them when lightning wipes them out.  Notice that he is keeping one hand on his shirt pocket  This is because he doesn't want to drop anything from this height.  From this point, it isn't quite straight down to the street, because there is another balcony a few floors below, but it's close enough to vertical, believe me.

Click to enlarge You can imagine the view from here on a clear day.  The most spectacular viewing happens on a winter morning after the arrival of a cold front, when the air is really clear.  At times when there is heavy fog, only the upper floors of the downtown buildings remain above the clouds, which looks weird.

Click to enlarge You can see we're looking down on Reunion Tower, which is the highest observation deck open to the public in Dallas.  Lightning is a major concern to people like Dennis, because this building gets hit by lightning frequently, and it often results in damage to these cameras.

Click to enlarge Here is an overview of the Belo broadcasting (WFAA-TV) complex to the southwest, a view rarely shown on the KDFW camera.

Updated 6/26/2012:
These pictures were taken (and this page was constructed) in 2003.  The parking lot in the lower left is now the site of the Omni Hotel.

Click to enlarge Looking south (and almost straight down) there is another office building with an interesting array of solar panels of some sort, possibly a skylight.  I would have taken more pictures, but the security guard was waiting for us to come in from the "balcony".

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Nations Bank, NCNB, Bank of America building, downtown Dallas, urban exploration, restricted access, tight security, very tall building, 72nd floor.

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Created June 21, 2003.

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