The Architecture Student’s Guide to Places in DFW

Architecture students at UTA share their perspectives on the designed world around us in North Texas. This is a pilot project done by seniors and graduate students in the class “Nature and American Architecture” in Spring 2013.

DFW student guide

Fort Worth Water Gardens

Heritage Park Plaza
Welcomed by a warning sign and a cyclone fence, you might not even recognize Heritage Park, a place that once celebrated nature. It seems like an entrance to a mysterious world that can be dangerous and yet curiosity takes you inside the gate. Once inside, the spaces seem haunted by the memories of a once thriving park. The stains on the concrete give a hint of the flow of life that existed years ago.
—Mojdeh Kasraie, BSArch ’13

First United Methodist Church courtyard
Light comes pouring in through the almost-square-shaped courtyard and gets dappled by the many tree branches that drape over its open top. The light in this courtyard is what makes it such a serene and spiritual experience. The intracacies of the huge old trees are reflected on the ground in the form of branchy shadows. The occasional sound of the clapping of heels can be heard, as a couple passes through the west door. Children run up the ramp and stairs, playing with their parents. They giggle as one parent chases them up and back down the ramp.
—Cassandra Doss, UTA MArch ’13

Bedford Trails Linear Park
There is no official start or end to the trail and therefore no official entrance. But to approach the trail with an eye toward formal layout would be a mistake. It is infill, a utilization of leftover space. The trail itself is simple: two plain concrete paths intertwine, following the gentle rise and fall of the existing landscape. To bike along the trail while looking upwards is a disorienting event, the power lines constantly dipping and swooping, reaching up toward the impossibly tall towers before racing down and away to the ground.
—UTA MArch ’13

River Legacy
Arlington is an in-between city: located in between major metropolitan areas Fort Worth and Dallas, and populated by many pollution-ridden busy roadways as well as tree-lined sleepy neighborhoods. River Legacy Park mimics this hybrid and provides a respite from urban life. The trails are surrounded by many trees which were planted during the park’s development, but the cohesion between the wild and the domestic is still present—it is indiscernible which plants and trees were original to the area before the land was donated.
—UTA art history ’13

Katy Trail
In a city like Dallas, which has become a never-ending network of highway overpasses and tollways, it can be difficult to feel a sense of community. From Dallas or Addison all the way over to Fort Worth and Mansfield, we all lose centering or sense of place by constantly traversing the metroplex without ever interacting. Katy Trail has given me and other residents a love of the city. The trail serves as a city-dweller’s connection to nature: the parks are the green open space we all need in our lives and the activity is socializing and using our bodies. It is the human experience of walking, riding a bike, or running along the path, waving at the passers-by, and people-watching from the benches that connect each individual to the community.
—UTA MArch ’13

Klyde Warren park

Knights of Pythias Temple
The Pythian Temple was built in 1917, funded by African-Americans and designed by William Sidney Pittman, a prominent African-American architect. In its current condition, the building can easily be overlooked. There has been an ongoing debate about the building’s restoration because the prime location and high land value seem to be of more interest than preservation. But to restore the structure will only add to the overall context of ongoing urban revitalization efforts in Deep Ellum. The Pythian building tells a story of its past users and although the original design has been altered, removed, or masked, the building is still significant to Deep Ellum and the African-American community.
—Lisa Richardson ’14

Deep Ellum
Deep Ellum has a great sense of unknowns. An industrial machine becomes, especially at night, a place of wilderness. Hearing the industrial humming, like grasshoppers ready for the last calling of females, the young ambitious boy trots long the dark valley wondering if the dark can penetrate his soul and reawaken the golden silence inside. A dark valley, an empty desert heat radiates from the concrete walkways and industrial brick buildings. Just like the young man, the building can only stare off to the distance, to the city lights, and wonder why the night-life eludes such forgotten space.
—Vinh Ho, BSArch ’13

Northpark Center
In the center of Northpark is a void, the Center Park Garden, a place for a breath of fresh air while shopping, viewing sculpture, or dining on the lawn. Nature is present everywhere within the mall — it is not presented as wild and free, but as carefully nurtured, manipulated, and maintained for our visual enjoyment.
—Tania Caudill, MArch ’14

Perot Museum
Imagine a painting with Dallas’ cityscape as the backdrop. The main dominating feature of the painting is a magnificent cube with an armature coming out of its base. In the mid ground is the would-be green, or “the brown” as we will call it. Children from several schools are running and jumping, enjoying the would-be perches of exhausted school teachers as perfect launch pads for those desirous of being airborne. Trees, though dead and bare are still in their infancy, holding promise for shelter.
—UTA BSArch ’13

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