A decade ago, the City of Dallas embarked on what would turn out to be—in the recessionary era of government cutbacks that followed—an ambitious program to replace aging, dilapidated pavilions in the city’s parks. The idea was to build shelters that would hold up to the elements and be easy to maintain, while also being welcoming and visually striking.
The latest of these pavilions—the 25th to be completed since the program kicked off in 2003—recently opened among the pecan, oak and mesquite trees in College Park, well west of the city center. The asymmetrical structure, fashioned from anodized aluminum, sits in a small clearing, its arresting lime-green interior at once complementing and popping out from the lushness of its surroundings.
The pavilion is the product of a collaboration between Snohetta—an Oslo- and New York-based firm best known for grander statements, including the Opera House in Busan, South Korea, and the forthcoming 9/11 museum at Ground Zero—and Architexas, a Dallas firm known locally for its preservation work. Snohetta has likened the design, which incorporates the structural framing system into the outer surface, to being "reminiscent of a billboard sign turned in on itself," noting that roadside billboards are common in this part of town. A leafy pattern, carved by a water-jet cutter, allows views through the sides—an aesthetic touch that doubles as a nod to security in a park where crime has been an issue.
The pavilion was built to be a portal between two distinct areas of the park—one, closer to the surrounding neighborhood streets, where playing fields and playgrounds contribute to a more active feel; and the eastern portion, characterized by its natural topography and vegetation. It is intended to entice visitors who gravitate to one part of the park to explore the other.
The cost, according to the Dallas Morning News, was $305,000. The pavilions are being built with the proceeds of bond issues that voters approved in 2003 and 2006.
In November, the College Park pavilion was recognized with an award from the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It was the second pavilion constructed under the auspices of the program to be singled out by the AIA; Cooper Joseph Studio of New York received a national AIA award earlier this year for the concrete canopy it designed for Webb Chapel Park.