Surrounded by a pedestrian-centric, urban landscape and thoughtfully articulated buildings, Sundance Square, by David M. Schwarz Architects, Bennett Benner Partners, and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, brings community space back to downtown Fort Worth.
Project Sundance Square, Fort Worth
Client Sundance Square
Design Architects David M Schwarz Architects
Architect of Record Bennett Benner Partners
Landscape Architects Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
Photographer Steve Hall
The completion of Sundance Square and two adjoining buildings in November 2013 marked a milestone achievement in the downtown Fort Worth renaissance, bringing new residents, new services, and a spectacular civic gathering space to the neighborhood and the city.
Sundance Square is the primary outdoor public-gathering space in downtown Fort Worth, and one of the most significant outdoor gathering spaces in the entire region. The importance of such a citizen-minded plaza was identified when its development plan was first drafted in 1988. Since then, downtown Fort Worth has seen the development of dozens of new buildings, and the cultivation of a walkable, pedestrian-oriented urban environment.
The 55,000-sf Sundance Square was envisioned as a significant civic amenity for the citizens of Fort Worth. With this in mind, the design team studied many of the world’s greatest public squares — from St. Mark's Square in Venice to Union Square in San Francisco — to understand their programming and features. It was determined that the square was to be defined by two office buildings, the Commerce Building and The Westbrook. This design decision would activate the streets that the buildings faced while offering ground-level retail and shade for users of the square.
On the east side of Sundance Square, the five-story, 84,000-sf Commerce Building thoughtfully steps down to the south, where it meets the historic Land Title Building. Similarly, it steps down to the north in deference to the existing Knights of Pythias building.
On the west side of the square, a symmetrical and monumental massing was more appropriate. The Westbrook, a six-story, 84,000-sf mixed-use office building incorporates a permanent stage and a clock tower, further signaling the square’s civic purpose. Like the Commerce Building, The Westbrook’s corner steps down to acknowledge the lower-scaled buildings that define the Sundance Square neighborhood.
The City of Fort Worth, the landscape architects, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, and the design team programmed Sundance Square to close Main Street, which bisects the site, in order to fully realize the value of a cohesive public square. The design was crafted in such a way as to allow Main Street to continue to visually connect the Court House, which anchors it on the north, and the Fort Worth Convention Center, which anchors it to the south. While Main Street is now raised to the level of the square, each end of the street is sloped down at the precise angle so that the livestock in the annual Fort Worth Stock Show parade can still walk the entirety of Main Street.
Complementing the historic Jett Building to the west, a glass and metal pavilion, which houses a multi-use, indoor/outdoor space with large overhead garage-style doors and restrooms, sits to the east in front of the Commerce Building.
With the Texas sun being a constant presence, three components of the square were designed with shading and cooling in mind. A cascading wave wall over granite provides a calming effect, while a 216-nozzle jetted fountain provides a refreshing play area for children. Finally, four 40-sf invertible umbrellas provide shade during the day, and illuminate the site at night, displaying vibrant colors and images for all to see.
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