A renowned landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA as a part of the Fair Park Master Plan was chosen to design the new Community Park of Dallas, Texas. With more than 25 years of experience, Studio-MLA is a design studio that integrates landscape architecture, urban design, and planning. They also specialize in creating spaces that restore environmental balance, unite communities and inspire human connection. 

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Fair Park ©Fair Park First

The transformation of the Fair park will replace over 1000 parking spaces and convert them into community spaces. It will also feature free programming for children, adults, and seniors in the 11-acre park. 

The project received the Unbuilt Dream/Study Award from the Greater Dallas Planning Council, and it is also the first project of the Fair Park Master Plan. The management and operations team, which chose Studio-MLA for designing the new transformation of the park, consists of the non-profit Fair Park First, Spectra, and Biederman Redevelopment Ventures.

Fair Park, a State and National Historic Landmark, declared in 1986 has 277 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. It is the most visited attraction located near downtown Dallas, Texas. It has cultural, historical and entertainment venues that host over 5.3 million visitors annually attending over 1200 special events. With five museums and ten performance and sporting venues, Fair Park has evolved into one of the premier destinations engulfed with timeless history and landscape. 

The president of the Fair Park First board Darren L. James says that the board is looking forward to the design of Studio-MLA to lead this transformational project for Fair Park by which millions of people will profit yearly from the funding. The Fair Park First board can not wait to see the transformation and its impact.

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Fair Park ©Fair Park First
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Fair Park ©Fair Park First

There was a nationwide search, in June 2020, for the design of the 11-acre park in the Master Plan Update. Amongst thirty landscape architects, the proposal by Studio-MLA showed an innovative approach and gained the support of both community stakeholders and Fair Park’s leadership teams. Initially, the area was a part of the surrounding neighbourhood before expropriating from home and business owners to create more parking. The idea of Studio-MLA is to transform the parking lot into an inspiring greenspace.

The aim of transforming the community park is to redefine the relationship of the city with Fair Park. The new park will create a tremendous amount of green space, and it will orient towards the community, which has been shut out of Fair Park historically.

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Site Plan of transformation of parking lot into green space ©dmagazine.com

The Fair Park transformation project has a core team along with Studio-MLA. It consists of the internationally award-winning architect Allison Grace Williams, FAIA,  Dallas-based architects and historical narrative storytellers building community WORKSHOP, and Dallas landscape architects Studio Outside. 

Some sub-consultant experts are also a part of the team including Essential Light; CRTKL for graphics and wayfinding; Fluidity for fountain design; JQ Engineers for Structural, Civil, and stormwater innovation strategies; Project Resources Group for cost consultation; Terracon for Environmental Engineering; MEPCE for M/E/P Engineering, and Hines irrigation consultants.

The founder of the Studio-MLA, Mia Lehrer explains:

‘We are honoured to have been selected, for what will become a valuable new resource in Fair Park, for the neighbourhood and the wider Dallas region. Our highly collaborative special design team strives to reflect the needs and aspirations of the community. Past efforts have set the stage for this opportunity, and we are excited to continue the momentum and inclusive approach to co-create a beloved new park that honours the past and looks to the future.’

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Conceptual Rendering ©Fair Park First

The Community Park design of Dallas, Texas will include a large lawn, play area for children with an interactive water feature, naturalized plantings, remembrance gardens, movable furniture, and a small pavilion for gatherings. The design of the park by Studio-MLA will also cater to numerous events during a week like art workshops, reading rooms, drum circles, fitness classes, outdoor movies, and small musical performances.

Community-curated, daily programs and amenities in a park can create catalytic change. The new transformation into a Community Park is a step towards attracting attention from across the country while restoring, revitalizing, and renewing the Fair Park. It is a way to reawaken a sleeping giant in the city of Dallas. Community parks are not only to connect communities, grow the local economy, and drive tourism, but they also improve public health, create a sense of place, and also provide safety. 

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Conceptual Rendering ©Studio MLA

Studio-MLA has worked on parks of varied scales. Their designs are responsive to the actual needs and desires of the community. To make it a community-driven design, Studio-MLA will seek input from residents of the city, local partners, numerous grassroots groups, and neighbourhood leaders on its vision for the new Community Park and finalize the design of the park.

The new transformation of the Fair Park will see the park as an asset and use it to its full potential. The master plan will make the park a year-round destination and is also a crucial step towards making it a gathering place for the South Dallas community.

Fair Park ©Fair Park First

Yachika Sharma is an architect who recently graduated from Chandigarh College of Architecture. She has a profound passion for architecture, poetry, art and travelling. She believes that it is crucial to go on to an adventure to fathom a city and unravel the little subtleties of city life.