News and Features

Woodall Rodgers Park: Making Space Out of Thin Air


Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is Vice- Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.

At Monday’s Ground Making ceremony of the Woodall Rodgers Deck Park, Mayor Tom Leppert proclaimed  it a great day for Dallas and applauded the city’s “can-do spirit.” Jody Grant, Woodall Rodgers Park Board Chairman, explained that the ceremony was ground making and not ground breaking because, “we are making space out of thin air.”

In the planning stage for five years, the park will  be built above the freeway and stretch over eight lanes of  traffic from Pearl to St. Paul. It is envisioned to be an urban oasis of “growth, leisure, vitality, beauty, entertainment, discovery, peace and tranquility.”

Still looking for a sponsor’s name, the park will function as a meeting place, a front lawn to the Arts District, an entertainment venue and a respite. Perhaps most important to the vitality of our city, is that the park will be a connector. It will connect downtown and uptown. It will connect people and encourage those living in, working in and visiting uptown to come downtown and vice -versa. People will actually be able to take a lunch break from their uptown offices, walk across the Harwood pedestrian path and visit the DMA. Dating  singles can walk from their West Village apartments to the restaurants at One Arts Plaza and to Tuesday night yoga at the Crow Museum. A more sedentary crowd can play chess, listen to music in the park or watch entertainment from the cafe, while downtown office workers can walk to McKinney Avenue’s  restaurants for dinner.

Watercolor renderings by artist Michael McCann (above) helped us visualize the dream. There will be winding paths amid flowering trees, a performance pavilion and a 6,000 sq. ft. glass-walled restaurant designed by Thomas Phifer, who worked with Richard Meier on the Rachofsky House. When the park opens in 2012, there will be a water element, a children’s playground, a dog park and yoga. But to walk the dog literally or figuratively, the Woodall Rodgers Foundation has to raise another $30 million. Hopefully the Ground Making buzz will result in ground-swelling donations. After all, who wouldn’t pay for a promise of beauty, vitality, peace and tranquility?

  • Summer

    Personally, I am extremely excited about this project. I think Dallas really needs more parks and community spaces. I am especially excited about the Boone Family Dog Park.

    I think it is also important that Dallas residents take part in this project by volunteering or donating. I have encouraged my friends and family to do so. It helps to us to feel like part of the community and feel that we really do have a hand in making our city better.