Texan built land empire
Trammell Crow, 94, a onetime accountant with no real estate experience who built one of the largest real estate development companies in the nation, died Wednesday at his farm near Tyler, Texas. He had Alzheimer's disease.
Crow grew up poor in Dallas, where he was born in 1914. After serving as an ensign in the Navy, assigned to finance duties, Crow returned to Dallas after World War II and built his first building, a warehouse near downtown, in 1948.
In the 1950s, Crow introduced Dallas to the idea of building on speculation -- without a tenant lined up in advance. He soon became a major industrial developer in the city, building the Dallas Market Center in 1957 and his first downtown office building two years later.
In those days, Crow relied on hundreds of young leasing agents, and those who proved themselves talented and hardworking became partners with an equity stake in the business.
Crow's agents did more than $15 billion in development and eventually gave him an interest in 8,000 properties, including houses, hospitals, hotels and office buildings.
By the 1960s, Crow gathered his loose network of partners into a formal, centralized corporate structure. The company bearing his name expanded beyond Texas, breaking ground on the Embarcadero Center office project in San Francisco in 1968.
But the U.S. recession in the mid-1970s hit the real estate industry hard. Crow's company was forced to renegotiate billions of dollars of debt and restructure, taking back many assets as partners left.
Crow stepped down as chief executive in 1977.
But he remained active in politics, the arts and philanthropy. He helped secure Dallas' winning bid to host the 1984 Republican convention. Crow and his wife, Margaret, supported arts groups and beautification projects in Dallas and beyond.
Crow's company was sold in 2006 for $1.8 billion to CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.
Award-winning Czech architect
Jan Kaplicky, 71, an award-winning Czech architect based in Britain, died Wednesday after collapsing in a Prague street, just hours after his second wife gave birth to their daughter.
Rescue workers attempted to resuscitate Kaplicky for 30 minutes. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Born in Prague on April 18, 1937, Kaplicky studied at the College of Applied Arts & Architecture in the Czech capital before leaving his homeland for London in 1968 after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia crushed the liberal reforms of Alexander Dubcek.
Kaplicky's design of a new media center at the Lord's cricket ground in London was honored with Britain's most prestigious architecture award, the Stirling Prize, in 1999.
He and his design consultancy, Future Systems, also designed the futuristic Selfridges building in Birmingham, England; the Stonehenge tourist center; and a floating bridge linking West India Quay and Canary Wharf in London.
In 2007, Future Systems won an international design competition for the new building of the Czech National Library in Prague, which would have been Kaplicky's first building in his homeland.
But the project attracted controversy. The design is for a pyramidal building that looks like an artificial hill with a huge eye-like window near the top, overseeing the capital's landmarks. A number of top Czech leaders opposed it, and it is not clear if the project will materialize.
-- times staff and wire reports