LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS THOMAS BALSLEY ASSOCIATES
DESIGN NEW PARK FOR DOWNTOWN DALLAS, TEXAS
Civic Monument in Vital Commercial District Is Area’s First Public Park
DALLAS, TX – International landscape architects Thomas Balsley Associates announce the completion of Main Street Garden, Dallas’ first new urban-core public park. With the opening of the new two-acre public space, Dallas puts the capstone on an extraordinary initiative to revitalize and enhance downtown life for new residents. “The Main Street Miracle,” as the area’s recent revival is being called, comprises a resurgence across all sectors of the local community, and Main Street Garden is the catalyst for much of that change.
Says founding principal Thomas Balsley, “The Dallas project achieves one of the primary design goals of our office: fostering the growth of active, thriving public life through the creation of coherent urban environments. The park’s striking public pose gives downtown Dallas a sense of place and a common ground for its diverse constituency of students, office workers, new residents and shoppers.”
Resting comfortably in the shadow of its two landmark neighbors, the Dallas Municipal Building and Texas Commerce Tower, Main Street Garden’s 21st-century design vocabulary speaks to the city’s future. The park features a large open lawn around which a café/kiosk, seating areas, tot lot, central plaza, water feature, urban dog run, garden/study rooms and distinctive shade structures are arranged. Linear “bar code” gardens run along the park’s borders and are furnished in perennial and ornamental grasses resting beneath a canopy of colorful crepe myrtle trees.
The rows of green glass “study shelters” and double-width lounge chairs arranged in and around the gardens act as intimate vantage points to observe the goings-on in both park and street, while a light installation by artist LSLP incorporated into the garden-room shelters makes the park a bright beacon in the middle of the Main Street nightscape. A diversity of venues for neighborhood and civic events are furnished by multi-sealed, flexible outdoor spaces scattered around the site; as added features to draw visitors from around the city and region, these spaces help make Main Street Garden the engine to return cultural and economic vitality to Dallas’ long-neglected downtown.
HIXON PARK IN TAMPA, FLORIDA
New Public Space is “Crown Jewel” of City’s Waterfront Revitalization
TAMPA, FL – Acting as a “front lawn” to the new Tampa Museum of Art and Glazier Children’s Museum, a new nine-acre park by renowned landscape architects Thomas Balsley Associates has transformed the city’s downtown waterfront district. Described as the “crown jewel” of Tampa, the new Curtis Hixon Park is the centerpiece of a plan for the area that fuses recreation, urbanism, culture, heritage, and entertainment, all in the city’s outdoor “urban living room” along the Hillsborough River. The firm’s bold planning and design have replaced the old museum and parking garages that blocked access to the river with a sparkling new civic park.
Says designer Thomas Balsley, “Successful 21st century urban parks must balance creativity and innovation with proven recipes for design programs. For [this project], we’ve created spaces ranging in scale from large open lawns to small intimate overlooks and garden rooms, able to accommodate large or small events.” Sculpted topography includes lawn panels stepping down from the museum terraces and garden promenade; the southern edge consists of a series of park and garden overlooks and a linear park pavilion with restrooms, café, and a visitor center.
Located along the river are a contemporary play area and urban dog run which take their sculptural cues from the Museum of Art. Louver jet and mist fountains at the park’s key plazas are child-friendly displays designed to capture the public’s imagination while cooling its feet. Timber lawn “rafts,” lounge chairs, and picnic tables with distinctive swivel loungers make up the innovative array of park furniture that is critical to the park’s success and a hallmark of Balsley’s design-as-public-amenity approach.
Masses of spartina and tree groves make up a large portion of the park’s native plantings. Lawns and garden areas as well as the fountains operate on a reclaimed water system. Distinctive LED fountain pavement lights and others throughout the park extend its nighttime curb appeal and downtown activity.
More than becoming the city’s cherished space to play and celebrate, the park’s place-making powers have made it a new landmark for Tampa and re-energized the city’s sense of civic pride.
About Thomas Balsley Associates
For over 35 years, Thomas Balsley Associates has reshaped urban space around the world by designing landscapes that teem with public life. TBA projects range from feasibility planning studies to built urban parks, waterfronts, commercial, residential and recreational landscapes. Scales of work range from master plans small urban spaces and urban furniture. Central to the firm’s design approach is Thomas Balsley’s belief that, “Public open spaces are the great democratic spaces, the ultimate common ground.” In New York City alone, the firm has designed more than 100 public parks and plazas including Chelsea Waterside Park and Riverside Park South. Projects outside New York include Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick in San Francisco, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, Skyline Park in Denver, West Shore Park in Baltimore, the World Trade Center Plaza in Osaka, Japan and the Magok Waterfront in South Korea.