sundance square plaza opening_Jim Richards Sketch

Old West Brings New Technology to Historic Downtown Silva Cell Case Study

Downtown Fort Worth, Texas was a popular hangout for outlaws, cattleman, gamblers, cowboys, and many legendary names from the glory days of the Old West. The site’s historic architecture and rich heritage has been preserved through the development of Sundance Square, a 35-block collection of restored and replicated turn-of-the-century storefronts, outfitted with colorful landscaping and brick-paved streets, including some of Fort Worth’s oldest and architecturally unique structures alongside new businesses and stores. Named after the Sundance Kid of Butch Cassidy fame, both of whom were regulars to the area in their day, Sundance Square is part of a revitalization project 30 years in the making that aims to preserve the area’s rich and colorful history as an entertainment, commercial, and recreational hotbed for tourists, workers, and residents alike.



Converted from two old surface parking lots, the Sundance Square Plaza boasts many attractions including a permanent, multi-purpose stage, decorative water fountains featuring ever-changing waterfalls and cascades, and two rows of Cedar Elms along the plaza’s perimeter. The completion of Sundance Square Plaza in fall 2013 marked the cornerstone of the redevelopment effort, unveiling a new centerpiece of downtown Fort Worth that offers an engaging, dynamic space that can host a variety of events and facilitate an array of encounters.




Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd. designed the Plaza to ensure that its trees be planted in a sustainable manner that would foster growth and support a large canopy to provide shade for many years to come. In light of the often arid Texas climate, they also wanted to engage innovative and efficient irrigation techniques to guarantee that the trees have access to all the resources they need year-round.



Silva Cells were selected in order to provide and maintain the necessary soil volume to reach these goals and prevent the soil compaction that could otherwise occur in this highly-trafficked area. Additionally, the flexibility of the Silva Cell system was conducive to the design team’s goals of innovative water irrigation. Kameron Aroom, leader of the design team for this project at Michael Vargason, described their goals for the site as follows:

“Our biggest goals were to provide a volume of soil that would encourage the trees shading the plaza to grow and form a solid canopy while preventing compaction of the amended soil panel below due to large crowds during events. Grading in the plaza was designed to slowly sheet water into the allée, and decomposed granite was used to prevent runoff. Water efficient irrigation techniques were used in the allée to help sustain the trees during the hot Texas Summer months.”



Credit: James Richards FASLA

Credit: James Richards, FASLA.

See more photos of this installation here.

Installation Summary
Average soil volume per tree: 800 ft3
Number of trees: 18
Total Silva Cells: 960 Frames, 480 Decks
Installation date: October 2013
Installation type: Trees
Project site: Plaza
Project designer: Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd.
Contractors: Greenleaf Professional Tree Service

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