The Dallas Water Gardens is a multi-objective project to improve flood control, improve water quality, create public space, and revitalize the area around the Old Trinity River channel adjacent to Downtown Dallas.
Urban ecology, resilient design, and enhanced connectivity combine to transform turn a water retention system into a hybrid city amenity.
This analysis for the Dallas Water Gardens includes the development of an ecological framework for the site that accounts for all potential ecosystem services that can be met in the site design.
Two of the Dallas Water Gardens' principles highlight the importance of resilient design: the Gardens are designed to absorb storm events, minimizing the risk of flooding to nearby homes, businesses, roads, and infrastructure. The gardens are also designed to mitigate urban environmental impacts by providing a counterbalance to their harsher urban surroundings.
The Water Gardens provide a new opportunity for connection to the river on which the Metroplex was built with wetlands that speak to and respect the native physiography.
The Dallas Water Gardens is a site immediately adjacent to downtown Dallas. The Water Gardens are a collection of nine separate ponds that are used by the City of Dallas to store floodwater. The aim of the project was to link the separate water holding areas so that newly enhanced ponds will embody both smart water engineering and natural wetland infrastructure to provide a hybrid city amenity. Five of the ponds would be converted into active wetlands.
Asakura Robinson was brought on to ensure that engineering work that will be carried out would not conflict with future site goals. The firm provided urban ecological planning and design services aimed at connecting the urban fabric of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods to the nearby but disconnected Trinity River. An initial site analysis focused on both the ecological context in addition to connectivity and mobility. Afterwards, guiding principles were developed to ensure that all aspects of the project – ecological function, aesthetic design, recreation planning, and educational programming – were not forgotten. The team then developed schematic design documents supported by site analysis and a science-based understanding of the local and regional systems impacting site processes.
The innovative design on this site aims to balance public access with goals of providing a cutting-edge urban ecological education and research site in the midst of urban Dallas. This project demonstrates how designed systems can utilize both mechanical and green techniques to treat stormwater, promote biodiversity and manage wildlife, reduce urban heat island locally, and provide an unparalleled public amenity.