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Can a New Park Help Weave Together Divided Dallas?

Alan G. Brake looks at the ambitions of Dallas's newly opened Klyde Warren Park. Built atop a trenched highway, the park "attempts to merge sophisticated contemporary design with walkable urbanism" while uniting two downtown neighborhoods.
January 8, 2013, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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How far can a new five-acre park go towards reorienting Dallas's car-centered culture towards a more walkable, seamless, urban environment? Such is the question asked by Brake in his review of the newly opened highway-cap park, which was designed by the Office of James Burnett, a Houston-based landscape architecture firm.

"[B]ordered on one side by the Downtown Dallas Arts District—which includes buildings by Edward Larabee Barnes, Renzo Piano, Foster + Partners, OMA, SOM, I.M. Pei, and Allied Works—and on the other by the tony Uptown neighborhood," the park attempts to correct "dated urban renewal-era thinking" by weaving together the neighborhoods "that have long been divided by the trenched Woodall Rogers highway."

"Built on decking that spans the eight-lane highway, Klyde Warren Park packs numerous amenities into its three-block length, including a large performance stage, a children’s play area, croquet and putting greens, a restaurant designed by New York architects Thomas Phifer and Partners (currently under construction), table tennis, and plenty of movable tables and chairs. Curved paths lead visitors through allées of trees, but keep most of the park open for civic gatherings," notes Brake.

"Will Klyde Warren Park be the beginning of a better-planned, more pedestrian-friendly central Dallas? Or will it prove to be just the latest bauble in Dallas’ collection, a Lone Star version of Chicago’s Millenium Park without that city’s density?"

New nearby residential development and the potential reorientation of neighboring museums are positive signs that Dallas may be on the verge of "a dynamic and connected central city that can make its trophies shine."

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Published on Monday, January 7, 2013 in The Architect's Newspaper
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