Dallas Architecture Forum Presents Free Panel on Connective Parks April 23

Klyde Warren Park

Dallas’ landscape is crisscrossed with interstate highways that cut through and divide our city’s neighborhoods. The lasting effects of these high-speed thoroughfares on our city have been felt for years, but until recently, the only option was to grin and bear it. With an acute lack of will to remove them, urban planners had to come up with a solution for restoring the connection between neighborhoods. The answer: deck parks and connective parks.

Our first in North Texas was Klyde Warren Park, and our city can’t imagine what life would be like without the deck park that connects Uptown to downtown Dallas. And the city is planning a second deck park over Interstate 35 near Highway 67  to connect North Oak Cliff to the Dallas Zoo, though that project wasn’t without contention. Even Plano is getting on board with deck parks, with plans in the works for a park over the Dallas North Tollway that would connect the Shops at Legacy with Legacy West.

To further explore this growing trend, the Dallas Architecture Forum is hosting a panel discussion called “Deck Parks and Connective Parks in Dallas” moderated by Elissa Izmailyan, senior director for community and economic development for the Trinity Park Conservancy. The panel will feature Tara Green, past president of Klyde Warren Park and principal of OJB Landscape Architecture; Diane Jones Allen, director of Landscape Architecture at UTA, CAPPA; and Molly Plummer, Parks for People Program Manager for the Trust for Public Land in North Texas.

OJB has designed the Southern Gateway Deck Park that will span Interstate 35 connecting North Oak Cliff to the Dallas Zoo.

“Parks serve as connectors and community gathering spaces between and within sections of cities. From Klyde Warren Park to the Deck Park over I-35, to plans for park expansion, this panel will look at how Dallas is making progress in accomplishing this goal while ensuring access to all residents of the city,” said Nate Eudaly, Executive Director of The Dallas Architecture Forum. “Our Panelists and Moderator are park experts who will provide greater understanding of these important issues. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions.”

The April 23 event is part of the Dallas Architecture Forum’s Spring 2019 Panel Discussion series and is free and open to the public. The discussion begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Dallas Black Dance Theater building directly behind One Arts Plaza, with complimentary beverages available beginning at 6:15 p.m. One CEU AIA credit is available for attendees

Green, Past President of Klyde Warren Park, will share insights with audience members about the successes and challenges faced by the park, and panelists will also discuss the planned expansion of Klyde Warren, and how that expansion may impact Dallas. Attendees will learn about the plans and potential issues involved with the Deck Park being constructed over I-35 adjacent to the Dallas Zoo. Jones Allen and Plummer will inform attendees on how parks in Dallas and other major urban centers can serve as connectors and community gathering spaces between and within sections of cites. Panelists, led by Izmailyan, will look at how Dallas is making progress and facing hurdles in accomplishing these goals while ensuring accessible and equitable access to these parks by all residents of the city. 


Elissa Hoagland Izmailyan serves as the Sr. Director for Community and Economic Development for the Trinity Park Conservancy, where she is currently leading the development of an Equitable Development Plan for Harold Simmons Park. Elissa joined the Conservancy from the Children & Nature Network, where she supported citywide initiatives for children’s equitable access to nature in 18 cities. Previously, Elissa founded and managed the Texas office of HR&A Advisors, where she served as an economic and implementation advisor to major urban park, infrastructure, and cultural projects throughout the American southwest, with particular focus on balancing value creation and inclusive community development.  Elissa began her career at the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, where she analyzed the economic value of urban park systems and best practices to enhance the health and community benefits of parks. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Brown University and lives in East Dallas.


As Principal of Program Development, Tara Green leads OJB Landscape Architecture’s Activation division. Tara focuses on developing the firm’s park planning and programming initiatives. Prior to joining OJB in 2018, she was President of Klyde Warren Park turning it into a world-class model for successful public-private partnerships. Tara was responsible for keeping Dallas’ most active green space pristine and safe. She guided the strategic direction of the park and worked to generate operating capital for the non-profit, overseeing staff and operations, including 1,300 free activities for the over 1 million park guests annually. Past experience also includes 20+ years of experience in the sports industry. She was the Chief Revenue Officer at the American Airlines Center, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee for Super Bowl XLV (45) and the Vice President of Sports Marketing for Visit Dallas, now the Dallas Sports Commission.


Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., ASLA, PLA, is Landscape Architecture Program Director, College of Architecture Planning and Public Affairs, University of Texas Arlington, and Principal Landscape Architect for DesignJones, LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana.  DesignJones LLC received the 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Community Service Award.  Diane’s research explores environmental justice and sustainability in cultural landscapes, including impacts on places with unmet transportation demand, as discussed in her book Lost in the Transit: Race Transit Access and Suburban Form, Routledge Publishers. Diane also co-edited Design as Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity, Island Press which won an EDRA Great Places Award, Book Category 2018.


Molly Plummer is the Parks for People Program Manager for the Trust for Public Land’s North Texas office.  She holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington and has a background in studio art.  Her research is focused on how social resiliency and the urban built environment are impacted by historic landscape architecture and planning mechanisms.  At the Trust for Public Land, Molly manages a number of projects including GIS-based city-wide planning initiative, a crowdsourced park quality assessment project, a watershed level master plan for parks and trails in Southern Dallas, the design and development of several parks projects in Dallas, in addition to organizing the community engagement and participatory design that accompanies these projects.