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TBG partners wins three texas ASLA awards

posted
04.20.18
author
Catherine Saunders
category
press

We are so excited to be able to finally share our good news with you! At this year’s Texas ASLA Awards Luncheon, we picked up three Texas ASLA Honor Awards!

  • The Shops at Park Lane
  • Our Creative Guidebook
  • Magnolia MicroPark

About The Shops at Park Lane

Located in the heart of Dallas near NorthPark Center, The Shops at Park Lane is a modern mixed-use TOD consisting of multifamily residences, office, retail and restaurants anchored by the largest Whole Foods Market in north Texas. While the initial phase of The Shops at Park Lane was completed in 2008 and was moderately successful, it became apparent quickly that this project was soulless and lacked an activity hub. An expansion to the popular mixed-use development added new office and retail components, along with a central plaza for pedestrian activity located between a new restaurant and coffee shop.

Park Lane 8020, Dallas, TX, photographed for Beck Group

The central plaza at The Shops at Park Lane was specifically intended to be a “third place.” A third place is a place where people spend their time outside of the confines of their home (the first place) and work (the second place). A third place is a place to be social, to feel comfortable and accepted, and to exchange information and ideas that are the foundation of a community. This notion of “third place” has attracted successful tenants to The Shops at Park Lane, and in turn, more consumers, creating economic success for the developer and retailers. For example, after the second phase’s completion that added the central plaza, the adjacent office space drew 20 percent higher premiums than the existing rental rates in the Central Expressway submarket. The plaza activated the development, provided the missing soul, and helped draw new and sought-after commercial tenants.

The design incorporates great urban and architectural principles that were previously missing in the balance of the development. These design interventions include pedestrian-scaled walkways in front of storefronts, using human-scaled canopies, regimented street tree programs to create urban edges, clear visibility into the plaza and park space, and lastly, programmed events that take place in the plaza 365 days a year. Other notable design elements include a large multipurpose green, a promenade of spray jets, outdoor dining terraces and a series of black granite water walls with seating under shade trees. The new restaurant and coffee shop, which has a stylized green roof and transparent façade, are situated at opposite ends of the park and act as an extension of the space.

When designing the plaza, we were challenged with creating a flexible space that could accommodate crowds from 10 to 500 people. This was successfully achieved by implementing varying scales of social zones throughout the plaza; there are intimate zones around the water features (for smaller gatherings), a medium zone (which includes the multipurpose green), and a large zone (which consists of a curb-less street that blurs the line between the vehicular and pedestrian traffic). As a result, The Shops at Park Lane has provided an easily accessible, comfortable pedestrian space that not only supports a healthy retail center, but also fosters community.

Another challenge was to create more appealing views from the adjacent residential and office tower, which lacked a green respite. This inspired the design team to take a nontraditional approach and incorporate an extensive green roof on the coffee shop immediately adjacent to the plaza. The green roof was installed with drought-tolerant Texas native plantings and captures and dissipates storm water runoff within the social strata.

Additionally, The Shops at Park Lane was one of 13 landscape projects selected for the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 2017 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, in which LAF-funded faculty/student research teams work with design practitioners to document the benefits of exemplary landscape projects.

About The Creative Guidebook

Establishing a consistent process for how we practice landscape architecture and planning was critical to ensure our success in delivering upon our purpose as a firm – to make the earth a more memorable place. Our belief is that we cannot deliver memorable experiences in every aspect of our work – and do that across multiple offices and with multiple generations – without first committing to a consistent process.

The Creative Guidebook, released in early 2017, was created to codify our process and hold everyone within our firm accountable to delivering performative landscapes that shape the human experience.

There are multiple audiences and layers of influence internally and externally, however, the message and purpose of the Creative Guidebook remains consistent. The primary goal is to create internal alignment around our process to elevate our work and deliver truly transformative places. Secondarily, communicating the value of this process and philosophy, externally, to our clients and strategic partners creates critical buy-in and further assures the outcomes we seek.

The Guidebook frames every phase of our practice, but it is not intended to be prescriptive. It is fluid and flexible and will evolve over time based on ongoing user interface and input. This initial beta version presents a holistic design approach for all project types and scales — from large-scale master plans to detailed site design. Every staff member in the firm, no matter their responsibility, has a copy to create a consistent design lexicon across the firm.

A five-stage framework is established early in the Creative Guidebook: Inception, Discovery, Development, Delivery and Evaluation. This framework is both linear and cyclical, meaning critical aspects of each apply at all phases. Each of the five design stages are broken down further to provide a step-by-step overview of the typical tasks and deliverables associated with each.

Each design stage is underscored by a series of performance factors which ensures every project achieves optimal social, economic and environmental impact. This includes assessment considerations for post occupancy, allowing lessons learned to be applied to our future projects. The emphasis on performance is complemented by a focus on the art and beauty of our work, with design review and critique processes woven throughout.

In the year since its initial release, the Creative Guidebook has made our work better and produced quantifiable value through measured performance metrics. It has also helped us in attracting and retaining top talent as well as top strategic partners. Finally, this book has become our most effective tool in delivering memorable experiences to those that experience the environments that we plan and design.

About Magnolia MicroPark

In Fort Worth’s vibrant Magnolia neighborhood, TBG worked with a diverse group of community members to create a lively urban park for a temporary period of time on a privately owned vacant site.

The Magnolia Micro Park offers a public space with art and seating to those on the corner of Henderson and Magnolia in Fort Worth.

Three sites in the neighborhood were evaluated and considered before settling on the current site at Magnolia and Henderson, which afforded the opportunity and permission necessary to host the park installation. An agreement was then formed with the landowner to not only allow for the placement of the park, but to also provide public access to the park. This step was required prior to kicking off a design workshop to shape the park’s identity.

During the workshop, a wish list for the park was created based on neighborhood members’ feedback. We then created several plan options for stakeholder input. After obtaining feedback, the overall project vision was refined and vignettes were created. A list of available resources was then identified; equally important was planning how the resources would be used and where they would be placed.

Community engagement and participation were of paramount importance and the team strove to ensure that park elements were designed to engage the neighborhood yet simple enough to not require skilled craftsmanship for successful construction. Using primarily donated materials and volunteer labor, the vacant property was then transformed into a multipurpose outdoor space that is flexible and mobile – allowing the neighborhood to build and add on to it as the park’s purpose evolves.

More than just simply a park, this “movement” had several restrictions: it needed to be mobile and entirely temporary, but durable enough to last for two years. Further adding to the design complications, access to water and utilities was not allowed.

The park features a large shipping container to host monthly rotating art work, highlighting local artists in the community, as well as donated lacebark elms and holly trees in wooden planter boxes that were salvaged from the neighborhood. These trees would have been lost to demolition on another construction site. Other donated items consisted of custom picnic tables and the creative use of ordinary items like milk crates, zip ties and car hoods. All items were either sourced, constructed or created by local companies, artists and craftsmen.

Despite its small size (around 3,000 sf) and minimal budget (about $20,000) the Magnolia MicroPark is a showcase of grassroots urban renewal that has helped change attitudes about the importance of inviting parks and other public realm destinations. The current MicroPark site is destined to become a hotel; but the excitement for this temporary park space in the neighborhood has caused the owner and developer to reevaluate and expand the amount of public realm they incorporate within their hotel development plans.

The MicroPark has also changed the perspective of property owners in nearby adjacencies – attracting tenants that will interact with the public (like a co-working space, for example), instead of an inwardly oriented business (like a medical office). The area dynamic has changed and increased the value of properties around the park, even though it’s temporary due to the activation of the space as a public outdoor amenity.

Additionally, realization of a long-term influence of the MicroPark in local park development policy is beginning to take shape. The City of Fort Worth recently revised their parks master plan and due to the success of this MicroPark added an Urban Parks category. Prior to the addition of this category, the smallest-sized park was between 1 and 5 acres, which is next to impossible to find in the City’s densest areas. This policy change reflects the need for the development of smaller, urban parks (which could range from parks to plaza space) to allow the community to gather and connect in a space that better reflects the context of place.

We are currently working to design two new Urban Parks which will be the first parks developed in this new category. These parks are being designed without the typical city park “mold” and will be reflective of the unique neighborhood they serve. Once complete these parks will be dedicated to the city.

Though temporary, the original MicroPark will live on. MicroPark 2.0 is being planned currently in another area of the neighborhood where the purpose of the MicroPark Initiative, which is to provide a spark of open space in a neighborhood that is currently lacking a park or other public open space amenity, will be realized. The future holds many new locations and creative concepts for the MicroPark. The initiative will be a continued presence in the neighborhood, creating community engagement and public green space wherever in need.