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Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey

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1961 established. 3550 Cistercian Rd.

Completed in 1965 by Ford and Landry, the abbey’s buildings have exposed concrete frames with soft red brick walls. Three two-story buildings by O’Neil Ford form an inner cloister for the abbey. Similarly, the adjacent Cistercian Preparatory School is concrete framed with red brick walls. Patrick Haggerty, who donated to the University of Dallas (GF3), funded the establishment of the school, which is operated by the abbey’s monks.

For the library (1998, Cunningham Architects), an addition at the school, Gary Cunningham of Dallas repeated the use of concrete and brick but elevated the roof with high clerestory windows for north light. The chapel (1992, Cunningham Architects) forms the fourth side of the cloister facing an oval lawn and woods (landscaped by Hocker Design Group). One of the most extraordinary buildings in Texas, the chapel is constructed of cyclopean, 2.5-ton blocks of rock-faced limestone. Unmatched colors and many textures give the simple gabled facade and long side walls a primordial feel, imbedded in history yet architecturally free of it. On the interior, a clerestory of cast glass washes the coarsely finished walls with diffused light and separates them from the simple ridged, timber-framed roof so that it appears to float above.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey", [Irving, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 185-186.

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