Slowly (Very Slowly, Occasionally) But Surely, City's Custom Park Pavilions Take Shape

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What you see above are the new pavilions at Brownwood Park on Walnut Hill Lane, between Webb Chapel Road and Marsh Lane. When I spotted them Friday morning, contractors were putting the finishing touches on the three structures, which have been very slow to take shape. "We had difficulty with the contractor," says Willis Winters, assistant director of Park and Recreation. "But we're back on track." Says Winters, "they were not being fabricated and installed according to our specifications." So the city made the workers redo them.

Designed by Joe McCall, a principal at Oglesby Green, they're part of the city's decade-old custom pavilion program, funded with 2003 and '06 bond package money. Some 25 parks citywide are supposed to have their own one-of-a-kind signature shelters, each designed by a different architect -- some from as far away as New York, most of them locals.

Says Winters, they've been rolling out across the city in recent years, though District 13, among others, has been slow to get its pavilions. The Brownwood trio are the first in Northwest Dallas, with more forthcoming at Webb Chapel Park on Cromwell (designed by Quimby McCoy Preservation Architects) and Royal Park (courtesy of HOK).

The program officially commenced with the 2003 bond program after a trial run in the late 1990s proved successful -- at least, as far as Winters, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, was concerned. "It got me thinking that rather than selecting pavilions out to the catalog, which is standard practice for park systems across America, we started thinking about doing custom pavilions that would place great architecture in neighborhoods throughout Dallas."

There are, at present, about 20 spread across the city, with more about to begin construction in coming months. Several others are in being put out to bid; even more are being designed.

"Some are pretty cool," says Winters. "Some are more successful than others, but it gets great architecture into the neighborhoods. Some have been moved around or were canceled before they got to design, but overall the program's moved forward." Tomorrow afternoon, Winters is giving Unfair Park a peek at all of the pavilion models, which he keeps in his city hall office. Slide show? Yes, please.

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