IMCL Honor Award, Built Project – Sundance Square, Fort Worth

It is of great significance that a major Texan city wedded to the automobile has created a main square free of traffic. Sundance Square, framed by fine early 20th century buildings, transforms two parking lots into the pedestrian heart of Fort Worth. The IMCL Awards Competition Jury selected Sundance Square to receive the IMCL Honor Award for “Excellence in creating Public Places for Community, Democratic Dialogue, Health & Equity” at the recent 54th IMCL Conference in Santa Fe, October 2-6.

The square is surrounded by museums, galleries, restaurants, and night clubs; furnished with a forest of 216 fountain jets, a wave wall fountain, a rentable pavilion and terrace, four 40’ x 40’ umbrellas, and a stage; and thoroughly programed for concerts, theater, art festivals, and movies.

The square is large (approximately 200’ x 300’  - 55,000 square feet), framed by 5 – 12 story buildings. This Texan spaciousness and wide sky view will be destroyed if more 35 story buildings are permitted within 3 blocks of the square.

The jury hopes that Sundance Square will not only provide the premier tourist attraction and special events destination for Fort Worth residents, but that it will also encourage more downtown living within walking distance, and spur development of mid-rise mixed-use residential buildings in keeping with Fort Worth’s early 20th century buildings that convey the city’s unique identity.

The 2017 IMCL Honor Award reads:

In concurrence with the judgment of its Design Awards Jury
Presents an

For Excellence in Creating 
Public Places for Community,
Democratic Dialogue, Health & Equity

Sundance Square
David M. Schwarz Architects, Inc.,
Johnny Campbell, President, Sundance Square

Project statement::

In 1988 the architects were commissioned to create a development plan for downtown Fort Worth, focusing on a 36-block pedestrian core. The downtown area’s grid was littered with pedestrian barriers, multi-block parking garages and unpleasant street edges created by office buildings set back a considerable way from the sidewalk. A central plaza was sited in that original development plan over 25 years ago.

Sundance Square, named after the surrounding neighborhood, was considered a critical element to creating a truly walkable and inviting urban center. The parcel on which the 55,000 SF plaza was constructed was formerly occupied by two surface parking lots on either side of Main Street. The portion of street that bisects the site was permanently closed to accommodate the programmatic demands of the space. The square is book-ended by Class-A office buildings, The Commerce Building and The Westbrook, with ground-level retail and restaurants both on the square and the streets the two buildings face.

The new Sundance Square Plaza is the primary public outdoor gathering space in downtown Fort Worth and one of the most significant public outdoor gathering spaces in the entire region. The design of this space addresses and expresses the shared cultural values and aspirations of the Fort Worth community and fulfills the complex tasks of accommodating large events as well as day- to-day use of the Plaza that calls for a more intimate scale. The Plaza has become an amenity, both functionally and aesthetically, for the entire surrounding Sundance Square neighborhood.