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Creating Connections: Design Contest Seeks to Alleviate Loneliness in Thanksgiving Square


Thanksgiving Square, a prominent public space in downtown Dallas, is embarking on a collaborative initiative to address the pervasive issue of loneliness within the community. The "Creating Connections Through Design" contest invites architects, designers, and artists to submit innovative proposals for reimagining the square as a space that promotes human interaction and fosters a sense of belonging.

With the understanding that public spaces play a crucial role in fostering social connections, the contest seeks designs that prioritize inclusivity, accessibility, and comfort. The proposed designs should encourage physical and digital interactions, facilitate community events and gatherings, and provide opportunities for spontaneous encounters. Through these enhancements, Thanksgiving Square aims to become a vibrant hub where individuals feel connected and engaged.

Recognizing the inherent challenges of combating loneliness, the contest organizers emphasize the importance of comprehensive solutions that address both the physical and emotional dimensions of this issue. They encourage designers to consider the following key principles:

  • Placemaking: Creating inviting and comfortable spaces where people want to gather and socialize.
  • Social Infrastructure: Incorporating elements that facilitate interactions, such as seating arrangements, interactive installations, and community gardens.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that the square is welcoming and accessible to people of all abilities and backgrounds.
  • Digital Integration: Exploring ways to leverage technology to enhance the user experience and foster virtual connections.
  • Sustainability: Designing with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and long-term functionality.

The contest is open to designers and artists from all over the United States. Submissions will be evaluated by a jury comprised of architects, urban planners, community leaders, and representatives from the City of Dallas. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2023.

The winning design will be announced in April 2023, and construction is expected to begin in late 2023. The transformed Thanksgiving Square will serve as a testament to the power of design in creating spaces that foster human connection and reduce the impact of loneliness.

The Pervasive Impact of Loneliness

Loneliness has become a prevalent issue in modern society, affecting individuals of all ages and backgrounds. It is associated with numerous negative health consequences, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, and dementia. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem, leading to increased isolation and a decline in social interactions.

Thanksgiving Square, a beloved gathering place in the heart of downtown Dallas, recognizes the urgent need to address the growing epidemic of loneliness. The "Creating Connections Through Design" contest is a bold initiative that seeks to transform the square into a space that actively promotes human connection and fosters a sense of community.

Community Engagement and Collaborations

To ensure that the new Thanksgiving Square reflects the needs and desires of the community, the design process will involve extensive public engagement initiatives. Residents, community organizations, and local businesses will be invited to share their ideas and provide feedback on the proposed designs.

The contest organizers are also collaborating with several organizations that specialize in addressing loneliness and social isolation, including the AARP Foundation and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. These partnerships will provide valuable insights and expertise as the project moves forward.

Expected Impact of the Transformed Thanksgiving Square

Upon its completion, the transformed Thanksgiving Square is anticipated to have a profound impact on the community:

  • Reduced Loneliness: The square will provide a welcoming and inclusive environment where individuals feel connected and supported.
  • Increased Social Interactions: The design will encourage spontaneous encounters, fostering new friendships and strengthening existing ones.
  • Community Building: The square will become a focal point for community events and gatherings, uniting people from all walks of life.
  • Improved Mental and Physical Health: By fostering a sense of belonging and reducing loneliness, the square will contribute to the overall well-being of the community.
  • Economic Revitalization: The transformed square is expected to attract visitors and businesses, revitalizing the surrounding area.

Thanksgiving Square has a long history of serving as a gathering place for people from all walks of life. Through the "Creating Connections Through Design" contest, the square will be reborn as a vibrant and welcoming space that actively promotes human connection and reduces the impact of loneliness.

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