A chrome and glass jewel-box structure by architect Thomas Phifer sat vacant at the side of a vibrant downtown Dallas park. A former high-end restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glazing around the entire perimeter, offered awesome views to the park and surrounding Arts District. These also offered an opportunity to view in, to a lively restaurant, now catering to the diverse crowd aligned with the typical park visitor.

“It’s about the park – feeling the trees, sky, and stars above. It’s about inviting park-goers in for an experience. And it’s about getting back to our Mexican roots,” said the President & CEO. “We’re known for Tex-Mex, let’s take a step to underscore the Mex.”

To save on cost, and to preserve some of the previous architecture, there was to be no removal of (or large punctures to) the perforated ceiling tiles with the leaf motif. Using existing electrical locations above the ceiling was encouraged.

The cladding of the inner core, (kitchen, restrooms, storage), previously all chrome, now uses black, textured, Mexican lava stone, relief-patterned with the golden ratio to become the inner temple wall. Bar patrons on one side, and dining patrons wrapping two more, gather around the soft glow of this internal lantern created by a grazing valence.

Above the leaf-motif ceiling panels, new wirelessly-controlled RGBW PAR lamps located at selected locations of the previous restaurant’s downlights produce a warm sunset quality ambiance. This is balanced with uplight from the suspended, abstracted, black tree branches to accentuate the leaf canopy, and give this glass box a glowing ceiling that floats gently beyond its glass walls, connecting inside and out. These two main lighting strokes provide the ambiance that shifts as the day transitions to evening and late-night.

The abstracted branches are not only uplights, the bottom is a magnetic track, allowing this restauranteur the ability to move the tilt-able accents around as needed, to individually spot the dining tables as has been their custom.

The mural in the main dining area ties together themes of Texas-Mexico connections including the migration of the Monarch butterflies, Dalia flowers and roses. The lighting combines a well-shielded wallwash and banquette accents in a structure that visually connects with the tree branches.

Catenary-mounted perforated copper tubes twinkle high above the patio, with enveloping heat lamps (heat and light separately controlled) at the personal level.

At La Parada, the to-go area, linear lighting enlivens the festively coloured perforated panels, and spills upward to continue the lighting of the leaf-and-branch motif ceiling panels. Puk-lights illuminate the countertops, and linear lighting draws attention to the menu board, offering tacos and bebidas to be consumed in the wider park and beyond.

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