The West End is about to get its latest infusion of innovation. It will soon be home to a smart park, serve as the focal point of a case study for smart city technology and connect to Victory Park via a newly illuminated path.
The developments are all happening in what is called the Dallas Innovation District, a title that represents the civic, corporate, startup and academic initiatives in the West End. The Dallas Innovation Alliance, a nonprofit public-private partnership among Dallas, local corporations and startups founded in 2015, has been one of the driving forces behind the latest developments. The city, corporations and other entities provide resources, materials and leadership to increase efficiencies with new technologies. In 2016, the DIA established the Living Lab, the section of the Innovation District where smart cities technologies are being tested.
“The ultimate goal is around improving the quality of life,” says Jennifer Sanders, DIA executive director. “It’s really about organic, community-driven pieces enabled by technology serving as catalyst for future development.”
The latest developments will take shape over the next several months.
James Corner Field Operations architecture firm is designing the smart park, called the West End Plaza. The park will occupy one square block between North Market Street, Corbin Street, North Record Street and the Spaghetti Warehouse building. Isabel Castilla, a principal designer for James Corner Field Operations, is heading this project. She’s also the lead designer for a section of New York City’s High Line, a public park built on an elevated historic freight line in Manhattan, and The Underline, a linear park in Miami expected to stretch 10 miles. Castilla has yet to release full details on the park but gave a teaser to her current challenges on a recent Parks for Downtown Dallas blog post. (To get an idea of what a smart park is, think wired, efficient tech matched with a traditional park or check out this article from the National Recreation and Park Association.)
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