Gardening 101: Shade Project Dallas


Gardening 101: Shade Project Dallas 03:13

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The Southwest Medical District in Dallas is a crowded place.

The former industrial district is now home to several major hospitals and a medical school. With over 40,000 workers and three million visitors, this is the second highest employment area in Dallas County.

It is also one of the hottest locations in the summertime. There are several geographical reasons for this. Just downwind (to the south) from the area are 16 lanes of I-35 and frontage roads. Also, just to the south? The gravel and metal bed of the TRE commuter rail.

The summer's prevailing wind (south) constantly pushes this warm air into the district. This is a slightly elevated region that currently only has a 7% tree canopy to offer surface cooling.

The Texas Tree Foundation transformation of the Southwest Medical District works with government and stakeholders in the district to change the look and feel of this busy area.

The plan is ambitious and is just getting started. It includes several stages, but it centers on the transformation of Harry Hines Boulevard, which runs through the center of the area.

This will become a "green spine" to the district, a well-shaded, walkable boulevard that includes bike trails. The northwest end of this area will sit a park that replaces the 50s-era cloverleaf intersection.

The project will take years and the continued cooperation of many levels of government along with several competing hospitals.

The Texas Tree Foundation is currently doing a careful and extensive study of the Heat Island effect that exists in the district. This information will inform the final design of the area to maximize the ability to cool the area. And not just provide shade; the trees help mitigate air and sound pollution as well.

This endeavor is a landmark case for careful urban planning. This is a new, well-informed movement to fight back the worst effects of urbanization and to turn a district for healing into a more healing place.

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