Pacific Plaza Field Trip

written by Gavin Newman

Sometimes research can be fun. After several days of unseasonably cold weather, GFF’s Planning and Landscape studios took a field trip to downtown Dallas’ newest spot of green, Pacific Plaza.

New parks don’t just appear out of thin air – this park combines an existing park, an adjacent parking lot, and an abandoned portion of Live Oak Street to create the 3.7 acre space.

The park wedges in at the change in Downtown’s grid, marking the edge of the older downtown grid running perpendicular to the river, and the north grid downtown shares with Uptown. Astounding views to the heart of downtown.

A lot happens within that 3.7 acres. At the corner of Harwood and Pacific, the trees of the former park hug the corner; at St Paul and Harwood, a mound topped with an elliptical pergola bounds the site. Centered in the park is a large, amorphous public green, captured at its edge by a sinuous stone bench.

There’s a play space with seesaws and swings – pictured are our attempts to test the limits of each. (They passed our tests.)

Given the amount of activity in and around the park at lunch on a Thursday, Pacific Plaza is already shaping up to be a successful public space. It’s not hard to imagine it acting as a strong catalyst for street-level change in the surrounding neighborhood. Its spaces, and the views of downtown it opens to, should make this a durable place in Dallas’ fabric.