Artistic Writing | Panorama Structure Journal


An structure critic jump-starts actual change in Dallas’s memorial panorama.

By Timothy A. Schuler

The Stoss plan would connect Dealey Plaza to Martyr’s Park and the Trinity River while creating new spaces for gathering and reflection
The Stoss plan would join Dealey Plaza to Martyr’s Park and the Trinity River whereas creating new areas for gathering and reflection. Picture © Stoss Panorama Urbanism.

For the previous 20 years, the locations the place President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed have been marked on Dallas’s Elm Road on the north facet of Dealey Plaza by two white Xs—not as a part of an official commemoration, however by the hands of what Mark Lamster, the structure critic for the Dallas Morning Information, describes as “assassination vacationer guides.” “[They] come and spray-paint these actually tawdry Xs on the bottom, and each time town tries to erase them, they only get spray-painted again there,” says Lamster, who started eager about Dealey Plaza and its shortcomings in 2013, through the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination.

Formed like one-half of an hourglass, Dealey Plaza options a number of small artwork deco colonnades and fountains however is dominated by three large roadways, which converge on the west finish of the plaza earlier than diving beneath a raised railroad bridge. Guests usually dart into site visitors on Elm Road to pay their respects or take photographs. Lamster argues that the association is hardly befitting an occasion of such tragic significance, neither is it tenable: Simply on the opposite facet of the railroad bridge is the just lately established Martyr’s Park, which memorializes the lives of three Black males who had been lynched in 1860. Past that’s the $250 million Trinity River Park by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, presently beneath development. None of those areas are presently accessible to pedestrians or cyclists or, in some circumstances, even by automobile. “We have to have a approach to get to Martyr’s Park, and there must be a biking route [to Trinity River Park],” Lamster says. “There isn’t actually a selection to only depart issues alone.”


In 2021, Lamster approached Chris Reed, FASLA, the founding director of Stoss Panorama Urbanism, about placing collectively a imaginative and prescient for Dealey Plaza, imagining a type of new memorial district that may tie collectively Dealey Plaza, Martyr’s Park, and the close by Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

A proposed vision for Dealey Plaza works at the edges of the National Historic Landmark to improve the visitor experience. © Stoss Landscape Urbanism
A proposed imaginative and prescient for Dealey Plaza works on the edges of the Nationwide Historic Landmark to enhance the customer expertise. Picture © Stoss Panorama Urbanism.

The ensuing proposal, developed with MPdL Studio with early contributions from the Dallas-based panorama agency DELINEATOR, focuses on the periphery of the plaza as a chance to enhance the expertise for guests and create new connections between a number of websites of civic significance. The 2 most transformative parts are the proposed closure of Elm Road and the insertion of a cantilevered timber viewing platform, which might spiral up over the railroad tracks, creating pedestrian entry to Martyr’s Park and new visible connections to Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Ground Museum, one of many solely native establishments that educates guests concerning the assassination.


Collectively, the road closure and platform create new, protected locations to assemble whereas respecting the historic nature of the positioning and the design of a forthcoming memorial in Martyr’s Park. “Our angle has been to search for alternatives on the perimeters, the place we may intervene and remodel the entire with out taking out these facets of [the existing] areas which are already working properly,” says Mónica Ponce de León, the founding principal of MPdL Studio and the dean of the structure faculty at Princeton College.

The proposal for Dealey Plaza was unveiled to the general public in October 2022 in an version of the Dallas Morning Information and instantly garnered curiosity from the general public. “After we printed it, we organized to have a big group assembly,” Lamster says. “We had been going to have it on the Sixth Ground Museum, however inside an hour we bought out their largest house, and we needed to transfer it to a big auditorium we now have on the Dallas Morning Information.” Moreover, Lamster says the proposal has reached members of town council, a few of whom have championed the challenge and have since dedicated to funding a plan for this space of downtown Dallas.

In the meantime, the design group continues to refine its concepts, knowledgeable by ongoing group engagement, and an exhibition of the work just lately on view on the Princeton College Faculty of Structure is poised to journey to Dallas to coincide with future public boards. “Mark’s piece began a very daring dialog,” Reed says. “It began to get individuals concerned in determining how we transfer ahead.”

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