The Leading with Landscape II: The Houston Transformation conference explored how ambitious, large-scale landscape-architectural projects are taking the lead in shaping the nation’s 4th largest city. Held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Brown Auditorium on March 11, 2016, the conference brought together some of the leading thinkers and landscape architects who presented nationally significant projects. To learn more about the conference: http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/microsites/houston2016/index.html
Panelist, Chapter One: The Foundations
Mary Margaret Jones, FASLA, FAAR, Senior Principal & President, Hargreaves Associates
Discovery Green, Houston, Texas
Discovery Green transformed twelve acres in downtown Houston from empty parking lots to a vibrant park, which is both a green oasis and a dynamic destination that attracts a million visitors each year to a once moribund part of the city. The design of the park creates a series of outdoor rooms that provide scale and complexity within a strong, simple framework. Responding to the urban context and environmental conditions the two axes of the park provide contrasting spines – one as an armature for activities and structures, including a café and restaurant, and the other a shady green corridor that creates connections and spawns the striated patterns that are reflected in the park’s gardens, walks and piers. The desired programming for the park was accommodated within this design strategy so that the overall effect is the “green” desired by the client and appropriate for Houston’s climate. Partly on structure – a 600-car parking garage lies beneath the Great Lawn and pond – the tectonics of the park respond to that of the entrance ramp, which forms a sloped performance lawn. The interactive water feature is a prominent beacon at night and a destination that draws children of all ages. The park is LEED Silver, with innovative storm water management systems and green building technologies, and supports active programming year round. It has been a catalyst for economic and social change for downtown, with a billion dollars of new mixed use development now forming its edges, and has become a beloved icon for the city.