In writing this essay, I am reminded of Progressive Architecture’s old editorial policy: don’t review anything before it’s been open for at least a year. Klyde Warren Park hasn’t yet made its debut, but expectations are sky high. The park is supposed to heal an old urban wound, knit together two distinct districts, make Dallas a walkable city, and change its entire urban culture. This is a tall order for any design project, and the park will need patience and time to develop.
In the short term, though, perhaps the park’s greatest success is purely symbolic. The act of burying a highway beneath a green space is an enormous and deeply admirable civic gesture, especially in a 21st century city carved into pieces by impassable concrete canyons, railroad right of ways, and vast flood plains. Klyde Warren Park represents an opening volley in the battle to make Dallas more responsive to people as people, not drivers.
When paired with the developing Katy Trail and the Trinity River Corridor projects, Klyde Warren Park shows that an alternative vision for Dallas as a city of greenbelts and parks is not just a pipe dream. That Dallas was able to radically alter city infrastructure, even just in these few city blocks, means that much more can be achieved. Beyond this symbolism, though, as citizens, we should ask how well the park is designed to make this idealistic vision possible.