Located in downtown Dallas, this plaza is the vision of developer Peter Stewart who envisioned a public place for ecumenical worship to reflect on the world’s blessings and commemorate the nation’s long observance of Thanksgiving. Stewart felt that a symbolic structure was essential to the program of the park, and after interviewing many architects chose Philip Johnson, who he felt possessed a keen symbolic and historic sensibility. Johnson’s design for a ninety-foot tall white concrete chapel spiraling toward a higher plane serves as the symbol and centerpiece for the three-acre park that opened to the public in 1976.
The triangular site features the spiraling chapel at its highest point and a concrete carillon at its lowest, in the acute corner of the park. Angular walks from all sides, forming retained areas of grasses and trees, tie the two vertical structures together and lead to a central plaza surrounded by pools, channels, and a large triangular granite water washboard that slopes up to the chapel area. The roseate concrete with exposed aggregate of Texas pink granite, the material used for all of the walks and walls, plays off the white concrete of the chapel and carillon. The angularity of the design, combined with the use of water pools, is reminiscent of Johnson’s Water Garden in Fort Worth, completed a few years earlier in 1974.