DeepRoot Silva Cells were installed to ensure the trees have access to quality, uncompacted soil volume for robust growth
The campus of the AT&T headquarters in downtown Dallas is a sprawling five-block area comprised of five different buildings, each with its own distinctive style and architecture. In an effort to bridge these various structures into a single, cohesive corporate community, AT&T envisioned a connective plaza — known today as the Discovery District, officially opened in June 2021. The award-winning plaza features a number of modern amenities, from the media wall to the illuminated “globe” art feature; the pedestrian-friendly courtyard also includes 39 newly planted trees, each one installed in the DeepRoot Silva Cell system where their roots can expand in a healthy, uncompacted soil environment.
Number of Silva Cells: 772
Number of Trees: 39
Type of Project: Plaza
Project Designer: Studio Outside
Project Contractor: Brightview Landscape Construction
Installation Date of Silva Cells: Summer/Fall 2018
Project Timeline: 2018-2020
A $100 million project initiated in 2015, the AT&T Discovery District in downtown Dallas — officially unveiled in the summer of 2021 — is an award-winning renovation and a favorite gathering spot among residents, visitors, and employees alike. The purpose of the venture was to connect the five-building AT&T campus together with a cohesive pedestrian plaza.
Making the area walkable and bikeable was important, and a traffic study was conducted in 2017 to determine what steps needed to be taken to complete this safely and efficiently. One-way and two-way street conversions as well as sidewalk expansions were identified. Project planners also wanted to include eye-catching modern amenities, and thus installed both a 104-foot media wall (one of the largest in the country) as well as an LED-lit “globe”: a tribute to AT&T’s logo that illuminates the plaza with its 30,000 lights. Sixteen restaurants also provide visitors with food and drink, as well as regular entertainment and musical events.
Likewise, energy efficiency and sustainability were important elements of the design plan initiated by Studio Outside. The Discovery District is powered entirely by wind energy — and the wider sidewalks feature “smart” irrigation for the adjacent greenery, which includes 39 new plaza trees installed in the DeepRoot Silva Cell system.
Over 750 Silva Cells were installed in the summer and fall of 2018. The purpose of the Silva Cell system was simple: support the plaza pavement while housing the quality, uncompacted soil that is suitable for trees to expand their roots to healthy maturity. This gives the new plantings the best opportunity not only to survive, but to thrive — offering visitors a large, shady respite from the Texas heat.
The Silva Cells were chosen both for their ability to grow large trees and for their field versatility. Working around utilities in the heart of downtown Dallas is no easy feat, and the flexible void space within the cells allowed the system to nimbly integrate with the preexisting pipes, with soil filled in around them. Technical Director Pat Greeley was also on-site to oversee the installation — and he helped solve an unforeseen issue with the in-ground lights that arose during construction, when their depth impeded the space being used by Silva Cells. The system’s adaptability — and DeepRoot’s industry-leading client services — led to a simple solution: remove 1x of the 3x system in the adjacent two Silva Cells, allowing space for the lights while also leaving room for the uncompacted soil fill beneath the tree.
The AT&T Discovery District is now an award-winning Dallas attraction, earning numerous design awards in addition to its SITES Silver Certification for sustainability. DeepRoot is excited to continue monitoring the progress of these plaza trees throughout the years.
-2021 Urban Design Award (GDPC)
-2020 Best Rehab or Reuse Award (Dallas Business Journal)