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Tower Life Building (Smith-Young Tower)
Completed at the onset of the Great Depression, this thirty-story building remained the tallest structure in San Antonio until 1968, when it was surpassed by the Tower of the Americas ( SA63). Designed by Robert M. Ayres, the tower reflects his having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, whose campus was dominated by nineteenth-and twentieth-century Gothic Revival designs, and the fashion for Gothic Revival in high-rise buildings in the 1920s following Hood and Howells's Chicago Tribune Tower. The tower, which has an irregular six-sided geometry following the bend in St. Mary's Street, housed a department store in the lower two stories, with offices above, including those of the Ayres firm occupying the top floor. The elevator lobby, though small in scale, has elaborate Gothic detailing, including a vaulted ceiling. Ayres hired the noted graphic artist Hugh Ferris to execute a perspective view of the building, which they hung in their office library.
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