State Fair News

Fair Park Dallas selects Calif design firm to turn parking lot into park

Fair Park Dallas selects CA design firm to turn parking lot into park

Fair Park
They're going to turn a parking lot into a park. Photo courtesy of Fair Park First

A renowned landscape architect firm from California has been selected to design a new community park at Fair Park, the 277-acre National Historic Landmark in Dallas that's home to the State Fair of Texas.

Studio-MLA, a Los Angeles-based firm founded by landscape guru Mia Lehrer, will design a new Community Park to replace a 1,000-space parking lot. The studio won the appointment from a field of 30 applicants, following a nationwide search launched in June 2020. Dallas loves a nationwide search.

The 11-acre park is the first project to come out of the Fair Park Master Plan Update, which recently received the Unbuilt Dream/Study Award from the Greater Dallas Planning Council.

According to a release, Studio-MLA's presentation showed an innovative approach that won over community stakeholders and Fair Park's leadership team alike. The decision was made by Fair Park First, Spectra, and Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV)—the management and operations team of Fair Park.

Completed Studio-MLA projects include Natural History Museum's Nature Gardens in Los Angeles, and the revitalization of the Los Angeles River. Lehrer is an advocate for protecting and preserving urban waterways and also a proponent of green schoolyards.

The planned Community Park design will likely include:

  • large lawn
  • children's play area with an interactive water feature
  • naturalized plantings
  • remembrance gardens
  • small pavilion for gatherings
  • movable tables and chairs

The park will also provide free programming for children, adults, and seniors. A typical calendar of events during a week might include fitness classes, small musical performances, art workshops, drum circles, a reading room, and outdoor movies.

Studio-MLA is part of a core team that also includes Dallas landscape architects Studio Outside, internationally award-winning architect Allison Grace Williams, FAIA, and Dallas-based architects and historical narrative storytellers building community WORKSHOP.

It doesn't stop there. Sub-consultants experts include Fluidity for fountain design; Essential Light; CRTKL for graphics and wayfinding; JQ Engineers for Structural, Civil, and stormwater innovation strategies; Terracon for Environmental Engineering; MEPCE for M/E/P Engineering, Hines irrigation consultants; and Project Resources Group for cost consultation.

BRV president Dan Biederman, who gained national prominence for his transformation of New York City's Bryant Park, says that "the creation of the Community Park is a step towards reawakening a sleeping giant in South Dallas."

"Parks and green spaces with community-curated, daily programs and amenities can create catalytic change," Biederman says. "Parks with daily free programming can grow the local economy, drive tourism, connect communities, create a sense of place, improve public health, provide safety, and protect the city's most important natural places. The Community Park will be just that - a park for the community."

Fair Park First's mission is to restore, revitalize, and renew Fair Park to attract attention from across the region and the country.