The Dallas Pedestrian Network — also known locally as "the tunnels"— is a network of pedestrian tunnels and skywalks running through downtown Dallas, Texas. In 1969 Vincent Ponte (planner of Montreal's underground) conceived a system to transform Dallas into a modern city, suggesting that "Dallas needs to shift to a new model of circulation in the Core, one in which pedestrians receive their own environment, sheltered and away from traffic". Underground and overground passageways provided an alternate connection to hotels, parks, parking structures and office buildings throughout the business district. As each segment opened, it organically expanded the "underground city" of shops, restaurants and services. While destination retail in the downtown area has come and gone over the years, spaces in the pedestrian network cater specifically to office workers and day visitors with quick cafes, fast food restaurants and small business convenience stores.
As the downtown of the 21st Century becomes a mixed-use district there is growing pressure to address the current state of the Dallas Pedestrian Network. Some officials want the passageways and retail closed completely, while others want to see them modernized or repurposed. While there's a lot of controversy surrounding their purpose, everyone can agree on one thing: today it's not easy to navigate. Because the network was built over several years by private developers, there's no governing authority to ensure a consistent experience under/above ground and wayfinding is sub-par. Security concerns have closed many of the public access points from the street, and municipally-owned sections suffer from neglect. Due to changing economic conditions and building closures some of the sections have been completely abandoned. Few official maps of the pedestrian system have ever been published and the only maps currently available are out of date.
Despite this, the pedestrian network is used by thousands of people each day. It provides an efficient, climate-controlled route between offices and garages, and still remains an asset to the business district. However, most people do not explore the network to discover nearby retail for fear of getting lost.
There is no unified wayfinding system at street level (the network is ignored by city officials). Until such a system is installed a map must clearly label access points AND connections. How do I access the tunnels? How can I get to a park from my favorite restaurant? On which floor is the connection located?
In 2009 I designed a basic map (pictured above) to illustrate the network for downtown residents and visitors. This map included an important detail never appearing on previous maps: access points and accessibility. Without showing where and how to access the pedestrian network, a map of "connections" does little to guide patrons. If the goal of the city is to cross-promote street life and transit usage this is essential.
With your help I will be updating and expanding my initial map to reveal more details of the Dallas Pedestrian Network. After conducting a thorough survey of the network, the new map will list retail establishments and access points while clearly indicating which segments are closed or inoperable. The map will show on which level the passageways are located and label major points of interest in the area. The design and initial printing of this map will be completely funded by you (no corporate sponsors). If we reach the goal of $1,200 we will be able to print 20,000 maps for distribution to downtown businesses, hotels and visitors bureaus. Money raised past the initial goal will fund map holders and poster-sized maps for wall mounting. Future printings (for any updates that may occur to the system) may be funded by governing organizations or corporate sponsors. The map will be made available for electronic download and personal printing under a Creative Commons license.
It is hoped that this map will encourage patronage of all businesses downtown and provide a clear guide to anyone visiting the Dallas Pedestrian Network. With your help, we can build those connections!
To view images of the Dallas Pedestrian Network, view my album here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dfwcre8tive/sets/72157622055346282/
- (30 days)