Coastal Bend History


Corpus Christi's first round buildings

Parkdale Library
Posted at 4:12 PM, Sep 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-14 17:55:07-04

Many of mankind's earliest structures were not square or rectangular as we build today, but were round or oval shaped. In terms of usable floor space, cost of materials, strength, and energy efficiency, round is better. The ancient Romans were constructing massive round buildings 2,000 years ago....many of which still stand (the Colosseum and Pantheon being two of the most famous).

For Corpus Christi, our first round building was not constructed until 1962...Parkdale Branch Library. The round design was selected for practical...NOT aesthetic....reasons. The budget and the available staff were limited. The architect, Joseph Hans, was told that the library would be staffed by a single person at times. He would have to design a building where that one librarian at the checkout desk could see the front entrance, the reading rooms, and down every aisle of the book stacks.


A building in the round was the only practical solution.

The design caused a sensation in the city, and set off a flurry of round construction during the next four years.

In 1963, inspired by the Parkdale design, the University of Corpus Christi erected its own round library. In that same year, architect Walter Wisznia designed the Executive House condos. While it is actually a 10 sided decagon, it incorporated the advantages of a round design.


The following year, Wisznia also designed the elliptical Gulfway National Bank...a design chosen mainly because of the odd shape of the land upon which it was to be built.


In 1965, First Savings erected a round building at the corner of Staples and Gollihar. They wanted a building that looked the same from every direction, and architect Leslie Mabry knew that "round" was the practical answer.

In 1966, the city's largest round building would be constructed across the street from Spohn Hospital. Known as the Medical Plaza, the five story office building was one of the city's most recognizable buildings until it's demolition in 2006.


Parkdale Library (now the Anita and W. T. Nyland Library), the bank at Gulfway (now Wells Fargo), and the UCC Library (now TAMU-CC’s Student Services Center) are all still standing.

By the end of the 60's the round building craze faded. Only a few round structures have been built since.....St. Pius X Catholic Church and Parkway Presbyterian are two that I can recall.

Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.