Dallas Landmark Commission Gives OK to Concept for Foundation Plaza Makeover
Feature Illustration: A concept rendering of the northeast quadrant of Foundation Plaza, as a Riparian Garden, and with the tulip style shade structures that would be added throughout the plaza. Courtesy: Gensler.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Dallas (Dallas County) — The Landmark Commission agreed this month on the concept design for the makeover of Foundation Plaza.
This begins one of the final phases in the Dallas County Records Building Renovation and Addition project that has been underway over the past few years. The Dallas office of Gensler has been in charge of the overall project and Gensler principal Paul Manno presented their plans for the Foundation Plaza at the Landmark Commission’s Dec. 7 session.
The Foundation Plaza site plan in its current state.
Many parts of Foundation Plaza are in disrepair and the plaza has not had a major renovation in more than 20 years.
The commissioners heard the presentation as a courtesy review and no action was taken. Gensler, as agent for the county, will have to return with a Certificate of Appropriateness application in the future for actual approval of any work.
The existing plaza, located in the West End district, consists of a central open linear space, with water feature that extends west from North Market Street to the County Records Building. This open space is bordered by shaded landscaped areas along the north and south that includes smaller pathways through them.
The concept for the proposed modifications to the plaza is to update these spaces and enhance the pedestrian experience. The open linear area in the center will remain and the water feature will be restored to working order.
The proposed site plan for the Foundation Plaza renovation.
New paving for updated accent pathways is proposed, as well as landscape berms to help add visual interest to tree and garden features. Additional seating, both unshaded and shaded with new awning or umbrella-like structures would be dispersed throughout the plaza.
The creation of food truck parking along the east border plaza, along North Market, is being considered as well.
Foundation Plaza, as viewed from Market Street. The Records Building in the distance can be seen undergoing reconstruction. Image: Google Streets.
The existing four quadrants of the plaza will remain. However, each quadrant will have its unique theme and there will be more of a focus on the use of native perennials to simplify maintenance.
The northwest quadrant will be the Woodland Garden; the northeast quadrant will be the Riparian Garden; the southwest quadrant will be the Color Collage Garden; and the southwest quadrant will be the Memorial Garden.
Colorful native plants will be used throughout. A small kiosk to sell coffee or some similar item may be located along Main Street in the Color Collage Garden. Preliminary designs for this feature have not yet been created.
Two design options for the shade structures were discussed–a tulip shaped umbrella and a custom fabricated flat (as in pancake shaped) shade structure. The commissioners expressed a preference for the tulip shape, however, the custom fabricated flat shade structure included integrated seating and the tulip design did not.
The structures would be installed throughout the four landscaped quadrants. The intent is for the structures to blend in with the tree canopies.
At the northeast corner of the plaza is a stair/elevator structure. This structure will be modified and made more open air, similar to the stair/elevator structure located at the southwest corner of the plaza.
The northeast stair core as it is today (left), and after reconstruction (right).
The purpose is both to open up views to and from the plaza from that location, and to eliminate enclosed non-visible spaces which are a safety concern. Two design options are proposed. They are similar with slightly different railing and roof.
Option one includes an opaque, green glass railing. The central part of the ceiling includes metal beams. Option two includes an open metal railing and a solid central ceiling.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.