• Abstract
    The sprawling, polynucleated form of Dallas-Fort Worth presents challenges to traditional notions of civic public space. While it is anchored by two major cities, the metropolitan area is composed of over 200 incorporated cities and towns, each with its own separate local government and town hall. This fragmented pattern of growth is typical of late 20th century urban sprawl in the U.S. and it raises fundamental questions about the role of the town hall and public square in shaping civic culture.
    We seek to uncover correlations between the design of town halls and squares in the context of urban sprawl and the capacity of civic government to engage in meaningful practices of authentic public participation. The research is interdisciplinary, bringing together faculty and students from architecture and public policy to investigate evolving relationships between the physical space of a central town square and new models for civic engagement that depend on social media. As local governments continue to adopt a number of decentralized approaches to reach diverse individuals and communities, how does this affect the centralization of town hall squares as a spatial focus for civic life and activity?