Houston Transformation Conference – Panel 2: Douglas Reed & Steven Spears



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

Panelists, Chapter Two: Looking Forward

Douglas Reed, FASLA, RAAR, Partner, Reed Hilderbrand LLC
Steven Spears, FASLA, PLA, AICP, Partner, Design Workshop
Devastation to Resilience: The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

The succession of extreme droughts and floods affecting Houston over the past decade are evidence of the region’s changing climate. The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a 155-acre refuge for native plants and animals and a hub for environmental education, has suffered brutally during this period: 48 percent mortality of the tree canopy, rampant exotic plant growth, and erosion have all drastically altered the character and health of the land.

This session summarizes the story of renewal, adaptation, and program expansion as core ingredients of a master plan and site design by the team of Design Workshop and Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture, with Lake Flato Architects for expanded building facilities.

The project reconciles a community’s desire to restore what they’ve lost with the reality of ecological systems in flux. The plan is predicated on exhaustive research: the site’s natural and cultural heritage; diagnosis of the impacts of climate change; and stakeholder engagement to identify the institution’s values and vision. The resultant strategy embodies the community’s endorsement of a new trajectory for this landscape—resilient ecologies endemic to this area of Texas, changing over time through careful management. The plan also provides expanded interpretive programs about the resetting and renewal of a damaged landscape. The first two phases are underway and focus on the northern third of the property, which incorporates a new visitor center and pavilions, trails, drives and parking, establishment of prairie, savanna, woodland and riparian ecologies, children’s discovery gardens and a ravine garden. Construction will commence in the summer of 2016.

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