Deep Ellum Mixed-Use District


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The site, Deep Ellum, adjacent to Downtown Dallas presents a set of very particular conditions. Rooted in the history of Dallas, it has been the silent witness to the intense development of the downtown area and although it is in continuity with the downtown grid it has remained almost untouched by the changes that ocured in downtown, partly due to the physical barrier of the highway. This set of conditions plus the new zoning regulations establish the general background for the particular approach developed in our masterplan for this area. We propose in thsi masterplan to create an urban environment with a strong identity and to establish a high contrast with the character of downtown Dallas, both in terms of physical spatial configuration and in terms of the type of activities and uses of the area. For many years the approach to urban development and urban design has been one where the focus was on the buildings as enclosed isolated entities, rather than in the urban fabric. The result of such an approach has been one of destruction of life in pubilc spaces and cities where one can no longer walk or enjoy because there is nothing to do or look at. In cases where there had not been a preexistent city life that same approach made the development of an active urban life and of the places where it could be developed virtually impossible. A certain alienation and absence of delight is the effect of such a situation. Our plan proposes to reverse such an approach in order to create a district that will be exemplary of the city life that we should have in the modern American city and while we look at the European cities as a reference, one should not need to go to Europe to enjoy the amenities of life in the city. The creation of public spaces, of streets and squares, of a market place, is essential to the exchange that makes the culture of a city. The creation of a physical spatial configuration that has a scale sympathetic to such public spaces is of major importance in order to make them successful. cial and residential.

The masterplan proposes the development of this district as a mixed use area including retail, offices, residential and small manufacturers. The creation of a dense residential area is essential for the type of urban life we want to see developed in Deep Ellum. The creation of a residential neighborhood in the city is a rather unusual situation for Dallas. The project proposes an alternative to the two prevailing solutions: the isolated highrise tower and the suburban type single family house of cluster housing. Two aspects are of major importance in the implementation of the masterplan concept, one is the type of urban structure, the other is the massing - these two are intimitely related. The masterplan places a strong emphasis in the creation of public spaces. These are essential to the character and nature of the area since they will provide the kind of possibility for urban exchange that is lacking in other parts of Dallas. Concerning the structure, the project is conceived as a network of streets, vehicular and pedestrian, and covered passages, creating blocks of a much smaller size than the present ones in order to make the whole area more active by increasing the number of streets and the possible patterns of movement. At certain points relating to the streets and very particular buildings such as the market or a tower are squares of different sizes with trees and fountains creating the oportunity for a variety of functions, cultural or recreational amidst the commercial and residential.

Year: 1985
Client:
The City of Dallas
Location:
Dallas, Texas

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