Dallas Innovates: Meet Gabriel Barbier-Mueller


Jim Fuquay / January 30, 2020 / Dallas Innovates




In 1979, Gabriel Barbier-Mueller moved to Dallas, just out of college and seeking a real estate career.

He joined the big Henry S. Miller brokerage company before setting out on his own, developing small facilities in the suburbs.

It was less than satisfying, but then he had the kind of idea that a 26–year-old comes up with: Why not approach Swiss watch giant Rolex and propose building a Dallas office to service its Central America business? And why not put it in the decidedly down-market land across the Woodall Rogers Freeway from Dallas’ central business district? Brilliant!

In 1984, the seven-story Rolex building opened at 2651 N. Harwood St., the first office tower in Uptown. Overshadowed now, and renamed Harwood One, it’s still Barbier-Mueller’s favorite building “because it was the start of it all.”

But right behind is the new Rolex Building, a distinctive, twisting structure “built with my two sons, Alexis and Oliver, and their team, designed by Tokyo-based Kengo Kuma and Dallas-based HDF,” Harwood’s in-house design group.

The two buildings are now part of the 19-block Harwood District, which Barbier-Mueller says includes ten pocket parks covering 8.5 acres, “eight restaurants, a lobby art program in ten buildings, and a museum free of charge and open to the public.” That’s The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection, which Harwood says has seen more than 1.5 million visitors. Its traveling exhibition has visited 11 cities, including Paris, Quebec City, Santiago, and recently the Kunsthalle Museum in Munich. The museum in Dallas has about 80 pieces on display.

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