Heritage Park Plaza - Landslide Update
By Melissa Erikson
Designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, Heritage Park Plaza was built as part of the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial Celebration to commemorate the City of Fort Worth’s founding as the Camp Worth military post in 1849. Located on a bluff overlooking the Trinity River, the Modernist half-acre park is comprised of interconnected, terraced concrete pathways, geometric rooms, and flowing water channels. After suffering from years of deferred maintenance, Heritage Park was closed to the public in September 2007. The following year, TCLF enrolled it as a Landslide site and included it in Marvels of Modernism, a thematic report and exhibition.
An initiative to revitalize the plaza in 2010 jump started an effort to list the landscape in the National Register of Historic Places. It was designated on May 10 of that year – the first Halprin-designed landscape to be designated solely as a work of landscape architecture (Park Central Square in Springfield, MO, was designated earlier that year – on February 16 – as part of a larger existing historic district).
Then, five years of discussions—in which TCLF was a constant participant—about how best to approach rehabilitating the landmark followed the designation process. In 2015 Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, Inc. (DFWI), collaborating with the City of Fort Worth, began work on a formal rehabilitation plan. In 2016 TCLF highlighted the park once again, including it in the Landslide report and exhibition The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin.
Construction documents for the plaza restoration, completed by Bennett Partners and Studio Outside, were put on hold after 95% when DFWI and the City decided to address larger environmental and circulation challenges that had previously limited the Plaza’s success. In 2021, a team lead by MIG was selected to make streetscape improvements, circulation changes, and park improvements to the surrounding streets, Heritage Park, and adjacent Paddock Park. Coordination and design efforts are ongoing. The reopening of the Plaza along with circulation and other park improvements will bring completion to Halprin’s vision to connect downtown Fort Worth to the Trinity River.