Southwestern Medical District

Urban Streetscape Master Plan Overview

The genesis of this project was identified through findings from the Foundation’s 2015 State of the Dallas Urban Forest Report.  The study found that the Southwestern Medical District had less than 7% tree canopy and was a major urban heat island.

Once the need was researched and defined, the solution became a collaborative effort with many partners and organizations. In partnership with the Southwestern Medical District, Texas Trees Foundation with support from: City of Dallas, Dallas County, North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), and numerous stakeholders talked to the people who live, work and play here, including doctors, researchers, employees, patients, business owners, residents, visitors and neighbors in communities adjacent to the District.

Once this essential input from the community was collected, the Foundation and collaborators began developing a solid foundation for this plan. Today, the designs and logistics for this streetscape are being fleshed out, while also securing financial support for the various phases of this project.

The Southwestern Medical District Urban Streetscape Master Plan will create a “sense of place” and a design that is magical yet functional, sensitive to ecological requirements, and will provide a safer vehicular and pedestrian environment – one that reduces stress and supports a community for healing a body, mind, and spirit.

The city must unite to transform this magnificent public asset into an unprecedented and notable medical district for the benefit of our entire community, region, and country. This public/ private partnership is one of the most dramatic transformations taking place in Dallas today. The impact on the District and the surrounding communities will change lives for generations and shine as an example of the best of what’s possible.

Current Challenges of the SWMD


  • Sidewalk gaps, narrow broken sidewalks and areas with no sidewalks in the SWMD make navigation for pedestrians challenging and nearly impossible – currently, there are 12 miles of existing sidewalks and 8 miles of missing sidewalks
  • The Harry Hines Blvd bridge crossing over Inwood Road has no sidewalk making pedestrian crossing impossible
  • Existing sidewalks are mostly narrow, immediately back of curb with no buffer between busy highspeed streets
  • Current intersections are excessively wide making crossing extremely dangerous
  • User survey responses overwhelmingly identified concern for safety from vehicles and crime-related  incidents


  • Disconnect from nature in our urban environments is a contributing factor to mental health and depression
  • SWMD is in need of more greenspace and naturalistic settings


  • SWMD street infrastructure and public rights-of-way were originally designed 50+ years ago for industrial use making street infrastructure and public rights-of-way a public safety hazard for the present day and future user
  • SWMD is plagued with excessive stormwater runoff and flooding during periods of extreme rainfall


  • Dallas ranks second to Phoenix as U.S. city heating up the fastest and the SWMD is one of the hottest urban heat islands in Dallas
  • DFW ranks13th for high ozone days out of 228 metropolitan areas
  • SWMD has only a 7% tree canopy cover compared to the minimum 30% needed to effectively reduce ambient air temperature
  • Continued environmental effects of urban heat island effect are detrimental to health and wellbeing of the SWMD and its users

Solution-oriented design goals


Mitigate heat island effect: energy-saving materials, green infrastructure and increased
tree canopy
Increase tree diversity: increased tree canopy
Improve air quality: reduce carbon footprint through the increased tree canopy
Filter and treat stormwater: through green infrastructure applications
Enhance urban wildlife habitat: through tree diversity and increased tree canopy


Economic development: opportunities for the private and public sectors
Improve pedestrian safety: improved sidewalks, buffers, crossings, and lighting
Utilize smart technologies: enhance user experience and reduce the carbon footprint
Improve access & connectivity: multi-use paths, designated bus lanes, and future mobility strategies
Maximize overall energy usage: streets with energy-saving lights and amenities


Increase human comfort: enhanced landscaping, amenities, and pedestrian/bicycle-friendly circulation
Improve user-health: reconnecting with nature through green spaces and trails connectivity
Define District: a destination by providing amenities and nodes
Express SWMD history: interactive amenities and public art
Enhance temporal qualities: enhanced landscaping, amenities and increased tree canopy

Design Framework


Harry Hines Boulevard will become a unique green corridor that supports vehicular, transit and pedestrian circulation through the center of the SWMD and activates the public realm through pedestrian-scaled improvements


Will increase tree canopy and nature along revitalized streets while providing localized stormwater management strategies


Will create an iconic destination
at the intersection of Harry Hines & Inwood, the
center of the SWMD’s ecological, pedestrian
and transit network

160804_SWMD Project Book080216_Page_052


Will provide recreation and circulation options throughout the SWMD with multi-use paths and bicycle facilities with connections to the future Trinity Strand Trail


Cultivates the unique
haracter of each street to better support its
adjacent land use and contribute to the vitality
and user experience


Refine the SWMD’s identity by
highlighting key intersections and way-finding
portals while creating enjoyable spaces for
visitors and residents