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Thomas Phifer Announced as Restaurant, Performance Pavilion Architect

The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation has named Thomas Phifer and Partners as the architect for the 6,000 square-foot restaurant and the performance pavilion, two central amenities planned for the 5.2 acre deck park that will span over the freeway between Uptown and Downtown Dallas. Phifer was released to begin developing the construction documents this week.

Plans call for a full restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating as well as a quick, casual café for people who wish to pick up a meal to enjoy in the park. The restaurant will also include space available to rent for private events. The adjacent performance pavilion will be a central gathering space in the middle of The Park and serve as a place for free concerts and events. When not in use, the performance pavilion will have moveable tables and chairs for additional outdoor dining.

New York-based Thomas Phifer and Partners is known for their innovative use of sustainable design, technology and for creating architecture that is connected to nature and enriched by an awareness of location and landscape. 
“We have created harmony between the light, the landscape and the restaurant space so that the Restaurant Pavilion feels like part of the park,” said Phifer. “The concept reinforces the connectivity this park aims to create within the heart of Dallas.”

“Thomas Phifer is considered a rising star in the architecture community and we are proud to be showcasing his work in the midst of the outstanding Arts District architecture,” said Jody Grant, chairman of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation Board. “Phifer’s vision for placemaking matched our goal of creating a spirit of community and accessibility for The Park.”

The Thomas Phifer designs complement the neighborhood’s exemplary architecture, including buildings by I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas. The Park will create a front lawn for the surrounding cultural offerings including the Dallas Center for Performing Arts, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and the future Museum of Nature and Science.

Restaurant Concept Aims to Reinforce Connectivity

Phifer’s restaurant design is conceived as a simple park pavilion which will encourage a connection with the surrounding landscape through glass walls, skylights and a sculpted ceiling that transitions from the indoor to the outdoor space. All four walls of the restaurant will be constructed with glass from floor-to-ceiling.

On the south side, the glass wall will have retractable glass doors that can open for patrons to enjoy the outdoors. A covered terrace will complement the retractable doors and allow patrons to sit outside and enjoy parkside dining. The terrace will have a direct view onto the Performance pavilion stage so that restaurant guests can enjoy the park’s entertainment programs.

The event space will feature a private dining room which will accommodate up to 80 seated guests with access to an outdoor grill and bar area.

The ceiling of the restaurant will appear to sit lightly on the glass walls and will be constructed of a series of coffers, each with a small skylight to animate the ceiling and to allow restaurant guests to enjoy the day’s changing light.

Environmentally responsible design features such as geothermal radiant heating and cooling and a green ‘planted’ roof will be considered during the design phase.

The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation will celebrate The Park’s groundbreaking in September 2009. The base park is expected to be complete in late 2011 with amenities, like the restaurant, expected to be complete in 2012.

About Thomas Phifer and Partners

Thomas Phifer formed his eponymous firm in 1997 following a decade as design partner for the firm of Richard Meier & Partners, where he was responsible for the design of some of that office’s most honored and visible public buildings and private residences. Phifer, who in 1995 received the prestigious Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, has received wide attention and critical praise for work that is sophisticated in its treatment of complex construction details, advanced in its application of new and ecologically sensitive technologies, and highly attentive to methods by which an atmosphere of serenity can be achieved through appropriate forms, materials, and innovative control of natural daylight.

Thomas Phifer and Partners has designed numerous residential, commercial and institutional buildings in the United States including the soon to be completed North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina which sits within a 180 acre sculpture park; the restoration and expansion of Castle Clinton National Monument at Battery Park in New York City, including a new visitor center and outdoor performance theater overlooking New York Harbor; a new United States Courthouse in an historic district of Salt Lake City, Utah; the Steelcase Workstage 001 Building, a high technology prototype office building in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and a collection of widely published, award winning, residences in New York and elsewhere, including the Salt Point House and the Taghkanic House in New York, recipients of American Institute of Architects National Honor Awards. In, 2005, Thomas Phifer and Partners was chosen by the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Transportation to redesign the streetlights of New York City.

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About the Park

The Park is a 5.2-acre deck park that will create an urban green space over the existing Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets. The park will provide connectivity to the city’s flourishing Arts District, bring cultural offerings together and serve as a central gathering space for Dallas and its visitors to enjoy.

In addition to the Restaurant and Performance Pavilions, plans for the park include jogging trails, a dog park, a children’s playground, a water sculpture, an area for games and much more.

Construction is funded through a public, private partnership including $20 million in bond funds from the city of Dallas, $20 million in highway funds from the state and federal government through TX DOT and $20 million from private donations. In March, the Park was selected to receive $16.7 million in stimulus funds that are specifically for transportation enhancement construction. The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation continues to raise private donations, including the naming rights for the park, to fund amenity construction, operations and programming.

The design and construction of the park is being managed by Bjerke Management Solutions and the design is led by two nationally-recognized design firms, The Office of James Burnett and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.

Jody Grant serves as Chairman of the Board of the Woodall Rodgers Foundation and is joined by President Linda Owen, Leo Corrigan, Ed Fjordbak, Sheila Grant, John Muse, Rob Walters, and John Zogg. The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation office is located within the Dallas Center for Architecture at 1909 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Suite 100.

For background information, please visit A new, updated Web site will be launched in Sept. 2009.