DALLAS — After a long, sweltering summer of Oklahoma heat, burned lawns and baked petunias, taking a walk through lush green grass and rich foliage is the ticket to enjoying autumn. Dallas has two major attractions that fit the bill — and both have Oklahoma City connections.
Perhaps taking a cue from our restored Myriad Gardens, a new downtown park opens in Dallas in late October with entertainment, art and food.
If that wasn't enough of a relationship to OKC, the Dallas Arboretum has a unique installation of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures outdoors in the gardens. Evening light shows featuring the sculptures, called Chihuly Nights, have music and dining options.
So, first tour the Myriad and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's Chihuly exhibit, take notes, and then drive south down Interstate 35 to experience another version of Green and Glass.
Klyde Warren Park
It's a family park. It's a cultural front lawn. It's a dog park. The plan calls for all this and more when the Klyde Warren Park opens Saturday. And, it's been a long time coming.
City leaders have long lamented a disconnect between Dallas' downtown and its near north neighborhoods called Uptown. The 5.2-acre downtown park is one answer. Park organizers explain the goal on the park website. “Connectivity is central to the park's purpose. The park will promote increased pedestrian, trolley and bicycle use between Uptown, Downtown and the Arts District, contributing to a more walkable city center.”
And it's the roof of a freeway. Really.
The Woodall Rodgers Freeway is Dallas' major downtown thoroughfare, which runs below ground, and until now was visible from above with a few sidewalk and crosswalks thrown in to help people get from one side of downtown to the other. The park deck fills in that view with tons of soil, hundreds of trees, thousands of plants and a lush carpet of grass from Pearl Street to St. Paul.
Journalists toured the deck in June and saw digital and animated renderings. Taking it all in, it's hard to imagine it used to be a hole in the ground, with cars whizzing by underneath. The cars are still there, you just can't see them. And while you'd think the freeway noise would be distracting, organizers say with all the trees, foliage and concrete, you won't be able to hear the cars.
That's good, but because city leaders want the park to become a sanctuary in the heart of the city.
“We are opening a new landmark for Dallas. Whether you call the park the city's heart, the front lawn or the town square, it's clear that Dallas is ready to turn an old freeway into a truly special destination,” said Jody Grant, chairman of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation Board. “During our grand opening, Klyde Warren Park will be buzzing with energy as people celebrate a major addition to our city's identity.”
The park officially will open to the public with a ribbon-cutting on Saturday. Free and public events will continue throughout the weekend. The nearby Arts District (museums, music hall and restaurants) will take part in the grand opening with the annual Art in October festival.
In an effort to bring culture to the park, several nearby groups will be partners, including the Dallas Center for Performing Arts, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and the future Museum of Nature and Science. These arts organizations will bring treasures to see, hear and exhibit in the park.
So, how big is it? At 5.2 acres, it certainly would fit inside the 17-acre Myriad Gardens here in OKC. But the idea of a green haven over an existing freeway screams urban downtown in a big way. Skyscrapers literally surround the park. Plans include a performance stage, restaurant, shaded walking paths, a dog park, a children's garden, great lawn, water features, an area for games and much more.
By the numberss
The Great Lawn can comfortably hold approximately 2,000 to 2,500 people seated.
The capacity of the children's park is approximately 100 children.
Maximum capacity of Klyde Warren Park is 10,000.
And it's green, too. More than 300 new trees will act as a natural bio-filter and reduce stormwater runoff and mitigate urban heat. The park's irrigation system will be mostly below surface to control water irrigation use and save an average of over 300,000 gallons per year (as compared to a conventional overhead spray system). Klyde Warren Park will have solar panels on the light poles and a high-efficiency lighting management system.
For the latest information, visit www.KlydeWarrenPark.com.
Chihuly days and nights
Placing priceless Chihuly glass outside in the garden? It's a chilling thought, especially after Dallas' hailstorm in June. But the Dallas Arboretum is doing just that now through Nov. 5. The intriguing garden sculptures of legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly bring bold colors and imagination to more than 15 locations throughout the arboretum's 66-acres.
Colorful round balls sit on grass, curly, corkscrew glass tendrils extend into the air, glass lily pads float on water.
Chihuly's work is seen in more than 200 museums and other venues around the world, including in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. His designs are inspired by nature, so the garden exhibition is a perfect installation. It is being shown for the first time in the five-state region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico).
The exhibit is on view day and night, but the effect changes significantly. During the day, visitors can tour the arboretum and see the sculptures and installations. But Wednesday and Thursday nights, the gardens and the glass are lit with colorful lights, turning the exhibit into a fantasyland with extended garden hours until 10 p.m. On Thursdays, the arboretum adds music to the mix, with bands and classical combos playing under the stars.
Fans can have dinner there as well, with several dining options.
Because Dallas and Oklahoma City residents know too well what happens to glass in a storm, the question has to be asked: What will happen in the event of inclement weather?
From the arboretum's website: Chihuly exhibitions have been up during all sorts of weather conditions throughout the years in various parts of the country. Over the years, the exhibits have faced everything from heavy rains to wind, hail, snow and even a hurricane. While the artwork is well secured during installation and quite sturdy, it is glass and can break with a good amount of force. Should any damage from inclement weather occur, the Studio will immediately work with the arboretum to replace any damaged artwork.
Accommodations were provided by Dallas Marriott City Center.