Real Estate

Jason Roberts and the Better Block'ers Dare You to Build a Better Ross Avenue in Three Days

One week after turning the front of Dallas City Hall into the Living Plaza, Jason Roberts -- who'll sleep when he's dead -- sends word of yet another project: the 72-Hour Challenge to turn a stretch of Ross Avenue downtown into a complete street.

There are some details on the Better Block website, with more to come, but long story short: The city, Downtown Dallas Inc., the Arts District and others are partnering with the Better Block'ers to allow teams 72 hours (beginning June 2, oy) to transform Ross into a "great livable space that embraces the road," he tells Unfair Park today. The idea is based in part on Bat-Yam 72 Hour Urban Landscape Competition in Israel.

Ross will be broken down into "five segments," Roberts says, from Pearl to Washington. And the expectation is that "the general form of boulevard makeover includes a market, gallery, music venue, food court and transit plaza," says the Better Block website.

"We're gonna grade people on the ability to make people linger in the space and, since it's in June, how would you create shade or add water features?" he says. "We want to see adaptive reuse. We'll publish more details as we get closer, but the nice thing about doing this in a compressed time line and getting a lot of folks involved is you'll see a lot creativity and find inexpensive ways to make change."

I asked who he expects will participate.

"We've got interest from universities who've asked to be involved in projects in the past," he says. "And then there are traditional architects, landscape architects and artists. It's open to anyone who can form a team and who is place-making-minded, which would even include theater groups who can do staging. We're trying to dispel the notion this can only be done by architects. Anyone can make a great place, and when you bring this mix of folks beyond just one discipline we'll get great ideas we might not have thought of otherwise."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky