Freeways throughout the United States have, historically, carved deep, long-lasting lines of separation between countless communities. “We know -overwhelmingly- that our urban freeways were routed through low-income neighborhoods. Instead of connecting us to each other, highway decision makers separated us,” noted U.S Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “A new, more convenient, high speed thoroughfare had been created, but the way of life of another community had been destroyed.” In response to recognizing this harm caused, communities across the country are working to combat the division by building under, over and sometimes directly on top of freeways. One of the leading efforts to this end is seen in Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2 acre park built to sit like a ‘lid’ atop a 3-block section of the Woodall Rogers Freeway in Dallas, Texas.
Klyde Warren Park now connects the separated communities, with its design to maximize flexibility and pedestrian accessibility, The park’s open layout allows it to accommodate a variety of attractions through its mix of active and passive spaces, and now effectively connects the city’s flourishing arts district with the downtown core. The area provides for an energetic hub for activities and cultural events for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
In addition to free weekly programming like yoga, film screenings and concerts, the park also includes a children’s play area, reading room, botanical garden, dog park, a restaurant, a performance pavilion, and several fountain plazas. When combined with the surrounding rejuvenated urban space, this plethora of entertainment alternatives has made Klyde Warren Park one of the most popular destinations in downtown Dallas, welcoming more than 1 million guests per year since it opened.
Given Dallas’ humid climate, considerable emphasis was placed on providing guests with a source of thermal comfort during the design of the park. To that end, four highly interactive water features were incorporated into Klyde Warren to provide accessible relief from the Texas heat while encouraging a sense of play. Crystal provided fountain equipment for each of the four features.
The largest water feature in the park, Moody Plaza, contains numerous dynamite blasts that produce thick columns of aerated, frothy water. Located along the park’s central promenade, these jets encourage wayfinding and promote evening visitation when illuminated. Elsewhere, two fountains in the children’s play area have been specially designed for younger park patrons to enjoy. They combine plume effects, fanning jets, and bursts of fog along a winding pathway that sparks imagination. The last of the park’s four water features can be found in the dog park, where furry companions and their owners can stay refreshed and chase down bursts of arching water.
Often recognized for its innovation both in construction, design, and amenities, Klyde Warren Park has received numerous awards since its inauguration, including the Urban Land Institute’s Urban Open Space Award for 2014. Not only that, though, the project has led to an increase in downtown rentals and real estate values. There are even plans to extend the park further over the interstate, adding amenities such as a parking garage, a restaurant, and an ice skating rink. Klyde Warren is a perfect example of how a public space can help bring communities together, and improve the quality of life for its patrons.