Administration Building (Randolph Air Force Base)

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Administration Building
Randolph-air-force-base-taj-mahal.jpg
aka the Taj Mahal
Missing Man Monument in the foreground
Admin Bldg, Randolph AFB is located in Texas
Admin Bldg, Randolph AFB
Admin Bldg, Randolph AFB
Admin Bldg, Randolph AFB is located in the United States
Admin Bldg, Randolph AFB
Admin Bldg, Randolph AFB
LocationUniversal City, Texas,
 United States
Coordinates29°32′09″N 98°16′57″W / 29.53583°N 98.28250°W / 29.53583; -98.28250Coordinates: 29°32′09″N 98°16′57″W / 29.53583°N 98.28250°W / 29.53583; -98.28250
BuiltJuly 15, 1931
Architect1st Lt. Harold L. Clark, Atlee Ayres, Robert M. Ayres
Architectural styleSpanish Colonial Revival
Part ofRandolph Field Historic District (#96000753)
NRHP reference #87001434[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPAugust 27, 1987
Designated NHLDCPAugust 7, 2001

The Administration Building at Randolph Air Force Base is headquarters for the 12th Flying Training Wing and located at Universal City, northeast of San Antonio, county of Bexar, in the U.S. state of Texas. The building is referred to as the Taj Mahal, or simply the Taj. It is Building 100 on the base, and was erected in 1931 at a cost of $252,027.50. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.[2]

Design and construction[edit]

Basic design and layout of Randolph Field (renamed Randolph Air Force Base in 1948),[3] as the training facility to be built near Schertz, Texas, for the newly created Air Corps, was drafted by 1st Lt. Harold L. Clark of Kelly Field in 1928 and approved by Brigadier General Frank Purdy Lahm.[3] Clark's draft for the central building combined all administrative functions under one roof, including the water tower with a rotating beacon on the top. He later donated his drawings to the Library of Congress.[4] Atlee B. Ayres and his son Robert M. Ayres were hired to draft the construction plans. The $252,027.50 facility designated as Building 100 was completed on July 15, 1931, and opened on October 5, 1931.[2]

Features[edit]

Building 100 has been headquarters for the 12th Flying Training Wing since 1972.[5] The two-story facility, with one-story wings on both sides, was designed with space for 22 offices on the ground floor, nine offices in the basement, and 18 offices on the second story. Floors and stairways were constructed of granite terrazzo. The base printing and photography needs were handled out of the building, and it also served as the mail processing center.[2] Courtroom facilities were incorporated into the original design, and legal proceedings continue to be part of the building's usage.[6] The 902nd Mission Support Group Office of the Staff Judge Advocate operates on the first floor of the Taj.[7]

The building was nicknamed the Taj Mahal[8] in its early years, due to what some thought was an architectural similarity to the Taj Mahal in India, and is commonly referred to as "the Taj".[6] It has been featured in movies such as West Point of the Air, Air Cadet and I Wanted Wings.[9] A detailed 15 by 18 in (0.38 by 0.46 m) replica of the Taj has sometimes been shown at military conventions. Carved from a block of wood in 1984 by base military retirees, the replica has a working electrical light beacon.[10]

Water tank tower[edit]

The facility encompasses its most notable feature, a 170 ft (52 m) enclosed water tank.[6] Clark's concept of incorporating the water tank into the building's architecture was aesthetically pleasing, but also was designed to eliminate its possibility of being the aviation hazard it might have been were it a stand-alone structure.[11] Radio antennas and a climate detector on the dome supported the communications office headquartered in the building.[2] The base water system is contained within the 500,000 US gal (1,900,000 L) tank which rests on an independent foundation inside the central octagon tower. The removable concrete walls of the tower are designed for tank maintenance. Topping the tower is a light beacon resting on a dome with a mosaic chevron design of blue and gold. An interior elevator leads to an observation deck at the bottom of the dome. Beneath the water tank is the Clark Rotunda, which features four murals painted by William Dean Fausett in 1942–1944 to represent the training cadets of that era.[6]

Theater and memorial monument[edit]

The base theater is located in the rear of the building and was designed to seat 1,200 people.[2] It hosted the world premiere of I Wanted Wings, which had been filmed at Randolph. Its original design had an orchestra pit below the stage.[12] In 2012, the theater was operating at a loss and stopped showing 35 mm film.[13] At that time it underwent a renovation as a 772-seat auditorium,[14] and in 2013 was renamed in honor of Brigadier General Kenneth Raymond Fleenor who had been held captive and tortured for over 5 years in North Vietnam. After his repatriation, he spent the remaining years of his military service at Randolph as Base Commander and in other positions of authority.[15]

On March 4, 1977, the Missing Man Monument by sculptor Mark Pritchett was installed in front of Building 100 by the San Antonio chapter of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots to commemorate combat fatalities in Southeast Asia.[16][17] Both the monument and the theater are part of events related to veterans, combat fatalities, prisoners of war and those missing in action.[18][19]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Park Service (April 15, 2008). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Base Administration Building". Texas Historical Commission. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Brown, Timothy M. "Randolph Air Force Base". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on December 30, 2013. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  4. ^ Clark, Harold L. "LC control no. 95860468 Architectural drawings for an air base, training facility and academy". Library of Congress. Retrieved March 26, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "12th Flying Training Wing History" (PDF). Joint Base San Antonio. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Salinas, Alex (April 4, 2013). "JBSA-Randolph's iconic landmark stands tall for more than eight decades". Joint Base San Antonio. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  7. ^ Goetz, Robert. "Randolph's 'law firm' practices multifaceted mission". Joint Base San Antonio. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  8. ^ Awbrey, Betty Dooley (2005). Why Stop?: A Guide to Texas Historical Roadside Markers. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 451. ISBN 978-1-58979-243-2. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014.
  9. ^ Vonler, Veva (2013). The Movie Lover's Tour of Texas: Reel-Life Rambles Through the Lone Star State. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-58979-242-5. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014.
  10. ^ Salinas, Alex. "Local retirees displays handmade Taj replica". Joint Base San Antonio. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  11. ^ Ganson, Barbara (2014). Texas Takes Wing: A Century of Flight in the Lone Star State. University of Texas Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-292-75408-9. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014.
  12. ^ Gerem, Yves (2001). A Marmac Guide to San Antonio. Pelican Publishing. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-56554-821-3. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014.
  13. ^ Goetz, Robert (October 4, 2012). "AAFES to stop showing movies at JBSA-Randolph". Joint Base San Antonio. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  14. ^ Goetz, Robert (May 31, 2013). "Painting crew giving Taj Mahal a fresh look". Joint Base San Antonio. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  15. ^ Huddleston, Scott (April 12, 2013). "Base theater renamed for former Vietnam War POW". San Antonio Express-News. Archived from the original on March 20, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  16. ^ "Missing Man Monument". HMdb.org. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  17. ^ "Randolph to save money by planting perennials". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  18. ^ Airman 1st Class Alexandria Slade. "POW/MIA event honors America's heroes". Joint Base San Antonio. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  19. ^ Salinas, Alex. "Flying squadron hosts annual Freedom Flyer Reunion". Joint Base San Antonio. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.