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As St. Louis Builds A Small Park Over A Highway…A Look At Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park

June 16, 2015 Featured, Parks, Travel 11 Comments

As work continues on the “lid” over the highway, now called I-44,  that divides downtown St. Louis from the Arch grounds I thought we should take a look at another recent park-over-highway project — Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park:

Klyde Warren Park creates an urban green space constructed over a section of the below-grade Woodall Rodgers Freeway, for 3 blocks between Pearl Street and St. Paul Street. It provides connectivity to the city’s flourishing Arts District from other neighborhoods, brings together cultural events and experiences, and serves as a central public gathering space for Dallas residents and visitors to enjoy.

Designed by landscape architecture firm, The Office of James Burnett, the park features flexible, pedestrian-oriented design, offering a mix of active and passive spaces, which include a children’s park, reading room, great lawn, restaurant, performance pavilion, fountain plaza, games area, urban dog park, and botanical garden around a sweeping pedestrian promenade.. A 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) restaurant and performance stage, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, is in the center of the park. In addition it provides jogging trails, a dog park, a children’s playground, and an area for games. (Wikipedia)

The idea of building a park over the recessed highway had been discussed since the highway was built in the 1960s. As an architecture student in the late 80s I visited I.M. Pei’s then-new Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in 1989, thinking the location, next to this wide ditch, was awful. Though I’d been to Dallas since then, I hadn’t seen the Meyerson again until last month.

26 years after seeing the new building, I passed by Dallas' symphony hall on their free D-Link bus.
26 years after seeing the new building, I passed by Dallas’ symphony hall on their free D-Link bus. Click image for map link.

The new trees are now mature, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough juice in my wheelchair to get closer. Besides, I was about to cross over the highway and in a block be at my destination.

Looking right I saw the highway that had long been a divider, the other direction was the new Klyde Warren Park
Looking right I saw the highway that had long been a divider, the other direction was the new Klyde Warren Park. View from Pearl St
Normally the D-Lkink bus would've crossed through the park on Olive but they close it during busiest times -- otherwise it's open.
Normally the D-Lkink bus would’ve crossed through the park on Olive but they close it during busiest times — otherwise it’s open.
Vehicles & the D-Link bus are rerouted when Olive is closed, but their vintage trolley line gets to cut through.
Vehicles & the D-Link bus are rerouted when Olive is closed, but their M-Line vintage trolley gets to cut through for obvious reasons. Click image for more information on this line.
This is like he 'hallway' our Gateway Mall is supposed to have, right now we only have 2 blocks in Citygarden
This is like he ‘hallway’ our Gateway Mall is supposed to have, right now we only have 2 blocks in Citygarden
Like Citygarden, this park has a botanical side. It's also city-owned but managed by a foundation.
Like Citygarden, this park has a botanical side. It’s also city-owned but managed by a foundation.
It's nearly 80% bigger the Citygarden, has more diverse areas as a result.
It’s nearly 80% bigger the Citygarden, has more diverse areas as a result.
The upscale restaurant was packed the Saturday night I was there,
The upscale restaurant was packed the Saturday night I was there,
Here you see people at the upscale restaurant (left) and regular park patrons sitting at movable tables & chairs located throughout the park (right).
Here you see people at the upscale restaurant (left) and regular park patrons sitting at movable tables & chairs located throughout the park (right).
The Congress for the New Urbanism/CNU23 closing party was at the self-serve end of the building
The Congress for the New Urbanism/CNU23 closing party was at the self-serve end of the building
'Retrofitting Suburbia' author Ellen Dunham Jones invited me to join her to chat, we finally met the day before. We'd communicated via email for years.
‘Retrofitting Suburbia’ author Ellen Dunham Jones invited me to join her to chat, we finally met the day before. We’d communicated via email for years. Selfie without a selfie stick… Click image to view her 2010 TED Talk.
The restaurant building has restrooms accessed from the outside, but the capacity isn't enough &/or isn't visible enough. -- so porta-potties are added in a few parking spots.
The restaurant building has restrooms accessed from the outside, but the capacity isn’t enough &/or isn’t visible enough. — so porta-potties are added in a few parking spots.
Like St. Louis, they didn't think about how wheelchair users would reach the disabled john.
Like St. Louis, they didn’t think about how wheelchair users would reach the disabled john. #curb
The South block has a big open area where people can kick balls around, etc
The South block has a big open area where people can kick balls around, etc
The big open field
The big open play field
An area on the edge for parking, left, is used by many food trucks during events.
An area on the edge for parking, left, is used by many food trucks during events.
By planning ahead, the food tricks lined up here for hours can all plug into outlets rather than run noisy polluting generators. I was able to plug in  my chair, grab a bite, and people watch.
By planning ahead, the food tricks lined up here for hours can all plug into outlets rather than run noisy polluting generators. I was able to plug in my chair, grab a bite, and people watch.

Of course, a 5.2 acre park built over a highway didn’t come cheap:

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.

I’d say it’s worth every penny! Over the coming 25 years it’ll help mend areas long-separated because of the highway. I love that the foundation must also program the space, wish the Gateway Foundation had to do the same at Citygarden, and that 9th Street would remain open except for during events/weekends.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Second Downtown Dog Park: Land Between Federal Courthouse & Stadium West Parking Garage

June 9, 2015 Downtown, Featured, Parks, Planning & Design Comments Off on Second Downtown Dog Park: Land Between Federal Courthouse & Stadium West Parking Garage

Today’s post continues a series on a 2nd dog park for downtown:

Today’s site is close to residents in the Cupples district and is also a good site for new construction. Unlike the others, this site is privately owned.

The NW corner of 9th & Clark is owned by Digital Realty as part of their 900 Walnut data center (right) The background park with patterned walkways is owned by the federal government, related to the federal courthouse across the street.
The NW corner of 9th & Clark is owned by Digital Realty as part of their 900 Walnut data center (right) The background park with patterned walkways is owned by the federal government, related to the federal courthouse across the street.
Another view showing the close proximity to the Cupples Station warehouses
Another view showing the close proximity to the Cupples Station warehouses

Fencing this square would better define the federally-owned public park and provide much-needed activity.  The owner might get a tax credit if it leased the land to a non-profit dog park. As you can see there are numerous locations downtown for a 2nd dog park.

— Steve Patterson

 

75th Anniversary of Aloe Plaza, Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’

May 11, 2015 Parks 17 Comments

I’d hoped there would be a big celebration over the weekend, continuing into today, to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Aloe Plaza and ‘Meeting of the Waters’ by Swedish sculpture Carl Milles. A year ago I contacted 6th-ward Ald Christine Ingrassia, IKEA, and others about collaborating on an event. Nothing.

Carl Milles' 'Meeting of the Waters' is the focal point of Aloe Plaza
Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’ is the focal point of Aloe Plaza, dedicated 75 years ago today
Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away "undesirable"  buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall
Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away “undesirable” buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall

The Carl Milles wanted the title to be “Wedding of the Waters” but prudish attitudes didn’t think nude figures should be associated with weddings, so he agreed to change the name to “Meeting of the Waters.” Through Aloe Plaza has suffered from decades of neglect, the sculpture is still magnificent. Others agree, it was the top vote getter in yesterday’s poll:

Q: What are your two favorite public fountain/water features in the City of St. Louis? Pick two — one can be added

  1. Meeting of the Waters — Aloe Plaza 13 [25.01%]
  2. Grand Basin — Forest Park 11 [21.16%]
  3. Splash fountain — Citygarden 8 [15.38%]
  4. Lily pond — Tower Grove Park 7 [13.46%]
  5. World’s Fair Pavilion Fountain — Government Hill in Forest Park 4 [7.69%]
  6. TIE 3 [5.77%]
    1. Kiener Memorial/Runner Statue — Kiener Plaza
    2. Waterfall — Citygarden
  7. TIE  1 [1.92%]
    1. May Amphitheater Waterfall — Kiener Plaza
    2. Fountain Park fountain — Fountain Park
    3. Unsure/no answer
  8. TIE 0 [0%]
    1. Clock Tower fountain — Saint Louis University
    2. Grand & Lindell — Saint Louis University
    3. Waterfall — Old Post Office Plaza
    4. Wading pool — Tower Grove Park
    5. Circular Fountain — Benton Park
    6. Wading pool & spray — St. Louis Place Park

Two answers were added for fountains listed in the poll (Aloe Plaza & Grand Basin), they were added to the totals above. The Grand Basin nearly beat out “Meeting of the Waters”, which is understandable.

The Grand Basin, Forest Park
The Grand Basin, Forest Park

The size & proportions of the basin are very pleasing. From various angles, close up or far away it is captivating.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Second Downtown Dog Park: Serra’s ‘Twain’

April 16, 2015 Downtown, Featured, Parks 9 Comments

Between the Arch grounds and the Gateway Mall downtown has an excess of public park land — land unlikely to ever see new buildings again. Still, some want to make more park lmd nearby — a dog park where the Cupples 7 warehouse once stood. See Temporary Dog Park On Former Cupples 7 Site Would Be Too Costly.

Meanwhile most blocks of the Gateway Mall go unloved. For a few years now I’ve been trying to build support for updating the block West of Citygarden — the block containing Richard Serra’s ‘Twain’.

ABOVE: Once you pass through one of the narrow openings the inside is spacious.
Once you pass through one of the narrow openings the inside is spacious.

Why turn a developable site into a dog & sculpture park when you can just fence in an existing sculpture? It’s already parkland, it needs more activity, it has a great location next to Citygarden. As a dog park a fence would be installed just inside new perimeter sidewalks, with at least two vestibule entry/exit points. Access would be limited to dog park members.

I still want to see a public restroom on one corner at 10th so the porta-potties at Citygarden can be retired. The restroom structure could be accessed from outside the dog park, with water for dogs on the inside.

— Steve Patterson

 

Eleanor Roosevelt Visited St. Louis 75 Years Ago

Seventy-five years ago today First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about her visit to St. Louis the day before.  She arrived at St. Louis’ Union Station, having been in Kansas City.  Later that Sunday she visited Fort Belle Fontaine:

I visited a training school for boys between the ages of 12 and 18, yesterday afternoon. It is about 16 miles out of St. Louis and is run on the cottage system with much land around it. The boys work three hours of the day on academic school courses and four hours on actual labor jobs.

Yesterday being Sunday, the WPA orchestra and the choral leader were putting on a concert in which the boys themselves participated. The commentator told the story of the music which the orchestra was about to play and the boys joined in the singing. Sometimes it was a quartette of boys trained under the WPA recreational project by the choral director, sometimes it was a song by the entire glee club.

The boys never had any time to weary of too much orchestral music, nor did they have to sit still too long, because periodically they rose and sang as loudly as they wanted. (My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt Monday November 6, 1939)

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), started in 1935, had numerous projects on the historic site, including terraces down to the Missouri River.

The WPA built the stone terraces & steps down to the Missouri River
The WPA built the stone terraces & steps down to the Missouri River, that’s my husband on the left

Why is it historic? Glad you asked:

Fort Belle Fontaine Park has been a St. Louis County Park since 1986. Few are aware that this was the first United States military installation west of the Mississippi River, established in 1805. Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery expedition (1804-1806) spent the first night of their expedition on an island opposite Cold Water Creek and their last night two years later at the fort, which had been established in their absence. Other major expeditions left from this site betweem 1805 and 1819 to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. Until it was replaced by Jefferson Barracks in 1826, Fort Belle Fontaine was an important gathering place in the wilderness for officers and enlisted men, Native American, French, Spanish and American settlers, trappers and traders, and the local businessmen and farmers who supplied the fort with necessities. (St. Louis County)

A year after, to the day, that Mrs. Roosevelt visited St. Louis her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt won an unprecedented 3rd term in office.

The recent PBS special The Roosevelts was fascinating, highly recommenced!! If you haven’t been, I also revommend visiting Fort Belle Fontaine

— Steve Patterson

 

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