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Woodall Rodgers Park Getting Decked


by Jerome Weeks 27 May 2009

Back in February, after construction had begun on Woodall Rogers Deck Park, I pointed out that the many hopes and claims for the park as the salvation of the Arts District seemed seriously inflated. This is especially true when you consider that those five acres, just five acres, will feature “ a dog park, a […]

CTA TBD

smaller-woodall-rodgersBack in February, after construction had begun on Woodall Rogers Deck Park, I pointed out that the many hopes and claims for the park as the salvation of the Arts District seemed seriously inflated. This is especially true when you consider that those five acres, just five acres, will feature “ a dog park, a children’s playground, dining options, a performance pavillion, water sculpture, an area for games and much more.” (In the photo, all those attractions, plus the connection between the McKinney Avenue Trolley and the Katy Trail, will fit between those three bridges in the middle.)

What looks like a vast, green expanse in the official renderings will be a space one-fifth the size of Chicago’s Millennium Park (which offers many of the same attractions). Whatever benefits we’ll enjoy from the  ‘Woodall Woods,’ as I’ve taken to calling this forest — and surely, there will be some benefits — they won’t really rectify the Arts District’s serious lack of retail attractions. Or downtown’s lack of greenery. Which is what the boosters have been claiming.

Now Joan Arbery at Renegade Bus discusses these drawbacks (and many more) in a wide-ranging Q&A with architect Hans Roegele, while  Unfair Park has posted a 1967 photo of a model for the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, which, in the middle, seems to show just what a smidgen of a park the Woods always were.

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  • johnl

    I dont think you are really seeing the big picture. Have you been to Millenium Park? it is fabulous but in that they did their performing arts center etc. It seems to me that our park will aggregate our performing arts, myerson, nasher, DMA and Science Musuem and help us form as one vs individual silo’s. THinking about this park as much larger than just the 5 acres is the real jewel. we need to get behind this!!

  • Bill Marvel

    So the argument here is, since we can’t have the Perfect, we shouldn’t have the good?

    • No, the argument is, don’t set your hopes too high that this will solve all that’s wrong with the Arts District or downtown. Which is what is being claimed for the Deck Park. Don’t get me wrong: Downtown and the District can use all the greenery and the extra added public appeal they can get. And covering up any part of the Woodall has to be a good idea.

      But this park is about three blocks long, two blocks wide. And this is supposed to unite the District, give it a focus, become a great public congregating center? For all its pleasures, Millennium Park can feel crammed and it’s five times the size of the Woodall Woods. The Arts District buildings were all designed as solo events, they’re all aimed away from the deck park. Flora Street was supposed to be the ‘spine’ of the Arts District; it has more or less failed at that: Ross Avenue and Pearl remain the major factors in pedestrian and auto traffic. So how does the park re-orient things? The park itself, as far as I can tell from the renderings and plans, will still be separated from everything by freeway service drives. In other words, there’s still going to be a long hike across hot concrete to get from anything in the deck to any of the arts institutions.

      So I look forward to the deck park as what it appears to be: a small blessing.