One is a website. The other is a Twitter account. One is almost two years old; the other, 20. But both avidly follow every construction project, every groundbreaking, and every whisper of a new building heading to Fort Worth — so much, in fact, that they’ve become go-to sources for developers and architectural enthusiasts alike.
They’re FortWorthArchitecture.com and Twitter account @UrbanFortWorth, or Fort Worth Urban. Fort Worth Architecture offers a comprehensive guide to every major building in the city. It’s also home to the Fort Worth Forum, an online message board where developers — and those just interested in development — actively discuss projects around town. Fort Worth Urban provides updates and commentary on local projects, along with an urban development map of more than 200 projects around town.
So it’s no surprise that the people who run them — John Roberts (FortWorthArchitecture.com) and Austin James (Fort Worth Urban) — are friends. James himself has an account on the Fort Worth Forum, whose members regularly meet for lunch once a month, usually at Benito’s along Magnolia Avenue.
Roberts originally started Fort Worth Architecture in 1997 as a “poor man’s way” of writing a book, he says. He started with a listing of downtown buildings, along with information on their history and architecture, and has expanded since. The Forum was born three years after the website, in 2000. Since the launch of FortWorthArchitecture.com, the site has garnered more than 1.5 million visits. The Forum currently has more than 2,400 registered members.
James, who happens to live in Arlington (but hopes to move to Fort Worth as soon as possible), started Fort Worth Urban with simply an interest in Fort Worth architecture, which mesmerized him as a child when his family would travel downtown to catch Fort Worth Brahmas games at the Convention Center. Fort Worth Urban’s follower count reaches more than 1,800 — a list that includes names like Mayor Betsy Price and TCU head football coach Gary Patterson, along with other major players like Near Southside Inc. and the Trinity River Vision. Roberts and James run their respective sites without pay and intend to keep it that way.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Roberts says. “I’ve really enjoyed doing this. This is something that I certainly have not regretted doing.”
John Roberts, Fort Worth Architecture
Day Job: Senior associate at Halbach-Dietz Architects
Favorite Building: Kimbell Art Museum
Why? “The Kimbell Art Museum is my favorite building because it is timeless. [Louis] Kahn designed a simple, yet elegant building that seems to fit within the Cultural District. I really like his use of materials, the barrel vaults, and light within the building to highlight the art, yet not harm it.”
Austin James, @UrbanFortWorth
Day Job: Assistant manager at Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau downtown office
Favorite Building: T&P Station
Why? “Love the deco architecture, beautiful lobby, and it has trains. Trains are cool.”