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Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Office of James Burnett, Jim Burnett, urban parks, Dallas park

At just over 5 acres, Klyde Warren Park isn’t a big park — it spans just two city blocks. It’s big enough to make an impression, and to help Dallas transition away from car culture (yeah, right) and to promote walkability. But when it comes to urban parks, size isn’t the only thing that matters; it’s what you do with the space that’s important. And that’s what impresses the most about landscape architect James Burnett’s work: the park makes great use of its meager acreage, layering a wide variety of spaces and amenities into the dynamic park.

Above all, Klyde Warren Park is a space that’s meant to be used. A low-volume street bisects the park, and a stage sits on the larger half (on the western side) of the park. After Saturday’s ribbon-cutting, a rock concert was held on the stage, showing the park’s value as an open-air concert venue. Just north of the stage a restaurant is currently under construction, which is expected to open in summer 2013. The northwest corner of the park contains a soft-surface children’s play area with a couple of water features and climbing apparatuses. The park’s other side features a games courtyard with ping pong tables, a putting green, and a lawn for croquet. The north and south sides of the park are lined with trees — mostly oak and elm — and slender white archways that look like miniature versions of St Louis’ Gateway Arch (or a McDonald’s arch, if you prefer).

Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Office of James Burnett, Jim Burnett, urban parks, Dallas parkPhoto by Mark Andrew Boyer for Inhabitat

The Office of James Burnett had to take Texas heat and drought conditions into account, as well as weight restrictions (because, after all, the park is basically just a big green roof). Most of the plants found in the new park are native, and they range from sage shrubs and native grasses to orange coneflower and mistflower (which is currently in bloom). To keep the plants fed and to reduce water waste, a high-efficiency drip irrigation system has been installed that has sensors to detect rain and frost.

With a price tag of $110 million, the park wasn’t cheap, and to reach that goal Dallas leaders had to get creative. Finding was ultimately provided through a public-private partnership, which included more than $50 million in private donations. The partnership doesn’t stop there, though; under a 50-year deal, a private foundation will run day-to-day operations, while the city will maintain the infrastructure (i.e. the concrete deck).

One of Klyde Warren Park’s biggest assets is something that isn’t even within the park’s boundaries. The park is adjacent to the Dallas Arts District, a three-block stretch of world-class performance venues and museums that were designed by architectural heavyweights like Norman Foster, OMA, Renzo Piano, and I.M. Pei. With time, the new park will serve as a gateway to those institutions, making them more accessible to downtown Dallas. The park’s impact won’t end at the boundaries of the park, either; locals are hopeful that it will encourage more pedestrian-friendly development in downtown Dallas. Other cities around the country should be taking notes.

+ Office of James Burnett

+ Klyde Warren Park

All photos by Mark Andrew Boyer for Inhabitat. To see more photos of Klyde Warren Park, please visit Inhabitat’s Flickr set