• The former Jesse R. Dawson State Jail sits at a critical juncture in Dallas, awaiting its transformation into a hub for Harold Simmons Park and the surrounding community. - photo courtesy Trinity Park Conservancy

Since 2013, the Jesse R. Dawson State Jail has laid vacant at an important juncture in downtown Dallas: Commerce Street and Harold Simmons Park (HSP). The 200-acre park is the first of a series of projects led by the Trinity Park Conservancy to facilitate public access to the vast recreational opportunities provided by 10,000 acres of the Trinity River, Dallas’ largest public green space. Situated atop the river’s east levee and HSP’s central axis, the former jail serves as a strong visual anchor for the park development and the areas it connects: West Dallas, Oak Cliff, and Downtown. The Conservancy is seeking a visionary architect to help transform the vacant structure into a hub for the park and its surrounding communities.

The future of 106 W Commerce will be informed by multiple factors, including its relationship to HSP, community aspirations, and technical and financial feasibility. In addition to park-supportive (both operational and public-facing) and civic spaces, the building may include commercial and/or residential uses. The selected firm will work closely with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architect of the park.

“The Conservancy purchased the former Jesse R. Dawson State Jail in 2019 as part of the vision for a great park that contributes to a greater city,” says Walter Elcock, interim president and CEO of the Conservancy. “The transformation of 106 W Commerce is a significant undertaking that will require multiple partners and disciplines, and we look forward to going through this robust selection process.”

This RFQ process is open to any qualified firm, and the Conservancy encourages firms from around the country and locally to respond. The full RFQ with context, scope of services, selection criteria, timeline and submission criteria/process can be found here. Submittals of the RFQ are due by Thursday, July 23. Any and all questions regarding this RFQ should be submitted by email to: procurement@trinityparkconservancy.org no later than July 15 at 12:00 PM CST.

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