Building a 5-acre deck park over a recessed eight-lane freeway took an imaginative and hard-working team of Dallas leaders and a clear vision. Klyde Warren Park creates green space “out of thin air” that connects the vibrant Uptown neighborhood with the Dallas Arts District and downtown.
The increased pedestrian connectivity and natural landscape heals the urban fabric of the city. The park is envisioned as a catalyst for the ongoing transformation of downtown Dallas by bringing quality of life, foot traffic to the area and increasing demand for surrounding properties. Leaders envision a place where people can build new traditions, share experiences and have fun in the center of Dallas. Public parks strengthen our communities and benefit our health, environment, quality of life, and economy. These are benefits that Dallas will enjoy for generations to come.
The concept of building a deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway may have originated in the 1960s when Dallas Mayor J. Erik Jonsson decided to recess the freeway. Many years later in 2002, the idea resurfaced in the real estate community and John Zogg began to rally support for the project. In 2004, The Real Estate Council provided $1 million grant to fund feasibility studies and provide staff support during the incubator stage. Texas Capital Bank Founder Jody Grant heard about the project and joined the cause with a $1 million personal donation and a $1 million donation from the bank. In 2004, Grant, Zogg and Linda Owen formed The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, the organization that led the project from design to completion. Many city and civic leaders contributed to the park througout the process.
Construction on the deck began in October 2009 and the park opened in October 2012.
Public, Private Partnership
The $110 million project was funded through a public-private partnership. Public support included $20 million in bond funds from the City of Dallas, $20 million in highway funds from the state and $16.7 million in stimulus funds. The balance of funding is through individual donors directly to the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation.
Klyde Warren Park is owned by the City of Dallas and privately operated and managed by the private Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. The Foundation studied great public parks across the country and plans to bring best practices to the park’s operations, programming and maintenance.
Klyde Warren Park was designed by award-winning landscape architect Jim Burnett, principal of The Office of James Burnett. His design is meant to create a sense of discovery as you move to the different “rooms” throughout the 5 acre park. The sustainable landscaping includes 37 native plant species and 322 trees, transforming a former freeway to a beautiful urban oasis.
The park is a feat of engineering and design. It is even with the street-level and preserves clearance for the highway below. The deck is made of more than 300 concrete beams arranged in groups with spacing in between the groups. Concrete slabs span the spaces connecting to the bottoms of the beams and forming trenches. The trenches act like planter boxes, allowing the trees to grow to the desired size. A combination of Geofoam and specially-designed soil helps keep the deck from being too heavy.
The design and construction of the park was managed by Bjerke Management Solutions and the design was led by two nationally-recognized design firms, The Office of James Burnett and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. The Texas Department of Transportation selected Archer Western as the contractor for construction of the deck plaza. McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. served as the contractor to construct all of the amenities and complete the park.