July 23, 2012

Sundance Plaza will feature fountain, pavilion and large shaded area

The downtown plaza will be flanked by buildings including The Cassidy with penthouse condos.

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FORT WORTH -- The new Sundance Plaza will feature an interactive fountain, multipurpose stage, a pavilion and four giant umbrellas that will provide shade when the project is completed in fall 2013.

Johnny Campbell, Sundance Square's CEO and president, and Michael Vergason, the Alexandria, Va.-based landscape architect hired by Sundance, revealed plans for the 1-acre plaza, which will be between Third and Fourth streets and Houston and Commerce streets, during a meeting of the Downtown Design Review Board on Monday.

Campbell said the plaza is a "feature-rich addition to the center of downtown Fort Worth. The plaza has to do a lot of different things. It has to be a great urban place."

The plaza, which is being built on former parking lots, will be flanked by two new office buildings that are under construction, The Westbrook, on the west, and The Commerce, to the east. Both will have ground-level space for shops and restaurants. A third new building, The Cassidy, will have six penthouse condos.

A two-tiered stage will anchor the plaza on the west side. The top tier measures 18 feet by 20 feet with a lower tier that will allow larger musical ensembles to perform, Sundance said. The plaza will have permanent stage lighting and audiovisual equipment.

In front of the stage, and at the base of the Chisholm Trail mural, will be an interactive fountain, measuring 50 by 60 feet, with 216 jets that will shoot water anywhere from 6 inches to 6 feet high. The fountain can be drained so people can sit there during events.

During the day, it will be a playground and, in the evening, the water feature will become a glowing, illuminated water sculpture, Sundance said. Vergason said the fountain "invites participation."

On the east side of the plaza, four large umbrellas will cover more than 6,400 square feet to provide shade, weather protection and create an outdoor "room" with a lofty canopy during the day. At night, the umbrellas will be lit with LED lighting. Each umbrella will measure 40 feet by 40 feet, and will be 32 feet tall. Made in Germany by Rasch, the umbrellas can open fully in less than a minute, can open partially or can stay closed. The materialwill be off-white, Vergason said.

A 2,000-square-foot pavilion, mostly made of glass, will be at Main and Third streets, next to the historic Jett Building, designed in an English garden style. The pavilion will have public restrooms, and possibly retail and small special events, Sundance said. Movable glass doors will open to tables and chairs that will overlook a cascading water feature.

The plaza will be defined on the south by two rows of trees.

"The plaza has been an active item on the master plan for more than two decades," Ed Bass, project developer, said in a statement. "We always envisioned a beautiful plaza that would be the fabric of our wonderful city and is now set to become a vibrant social centerpiece reflecting the best of a lively downtown."

The curbs on Main Street will be removed and the two blocks will be at the same grade. Main Street will be open for traffic on nonevent days and shut off to traffic by bollards during events. The plaza will have a brick-paved surface of different color bricks and stone banding.

"We've been watching the space for a long time and it exceeds my expectations," said board member Jim Richards, following the presentation. "It has a timeless elegance. That's a really hard thing to do."

A plaza has been a part of the 25-year-old master plan for Sundance Square, a 35-block office, residential, entertainment and shopping district.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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