Another year has almost come and gone, and though each brings its own exciting developments to the great city of Dallas, 2019 was one for the record books. This year, Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy saw a dream 10-plus years in the making come true, as Pacific Plaza officially opened to the public in October.
The idea for Pacific Plaza can be traced all the way back to 2004’s Dallas Parks Master Plan, when organizers first dreamed of a “multi-use civic park that can successfully accommodate the various recreational needs of the unique and diverse land uses surrounding this site.” But it would take years for the many puzzle pieces to fall into place.
In 2008, land was acquired for the park, consisting of three-plus acres of surface parking lots located at the center of the Harwood Street pedestrian corridor. But with no money to fund construction, the lots sat empty until Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy committed to paying for the $15 million park in its entirety. Ground officially broke in April of 2018.
When the park opened this October, Dallasites were able to see firsthand the fruits of this long-awaited labor. Designed by global design firm SWA Group, Pacific Plaza includes central lawn space, a play area, plenty of tables and seating, space for food trucks, dog-walking areas, 144 new trees and over 50,000 square feet of planting, all connected by “the Thread,” a 614-foot ribbon of Indiana limestone that serves as a walking path and stone bench for additional seating.
However, the park’s centerpiece is its open-air pavilion, built by HKS Architects and featuring punctured holes that are an abstracted version of American Morse code, a nod to the site’s connection to the Texas Pacific Railroad, where American Morse Code was used to communicate between the line’s 337 stops.
Since its unveiling, the Dallas Morning News has called Pacific Plaza a “victory” for Downtown and “a sophisticated work of landscape design conjured from a grim no man’s land of downtown asphalt.” But Pacific Plaza is just the first in our lineup of four new parks we’re bringing to the Downtown core.
Next up is West End Square — currently a parking lot — located in the heart of the rapidly developing West End Historic District. The area is bound by North Market, Corbin and North Record streets, and was identified as a priority park site in the 2004 Dallas Parks Master Plan as the only centrally located open space in the district.
The lot will officially close on January 1, 2020, to allow for construction, which is expected to take about one year. James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architects behind widely-praised projects including New York City’s High Line and Chicago’s Navy Pier, led the park’s design, which will feature amenities such as park-wide WiFi, a shaded outdoor workroom, prairie gardens, porch swings, game tables, a water feature and an “innovation arcade” that could house everything from temporary art installations to technology exhibits.
The virtual groundbreaking for this exciting new space is scheduled for Monday, January 13, at 4 p.m. at Dallas City Hall. We would love to see you there as we charge forward with the newest, cutting-edge green space that’s sure to transform Downtown.