Images courtesy of Design Workshop.
Midtown, historically known as Houston's second neighborhood, flourished in the 1930s and 1940s, but experienced urban decline as suburban alternatives grew in the following decades. As part of a larger renaissance in the city of Houston to reclaim and enliven vacant and public spaces, a public-private partnership was formed to create a premier park destination in the Midtown district.
Midtown Park offers residents a blend of urban living and functional nature. The park is largely built over a 400-space parking facility that serves the surrounding community. Special care was taken to ensure adequate soil volume and depth for the diverse tree canopy. In addition to the site conditions, tree root systems and structure were taken into consideration to bolster resilience in hurricane events.
Bayou-inspired water features bring nature to the city to provide respite and sustainable water management. Rainwater is stored in a 70,000-gallon irrigation vault that supports landscape features and offsets potable water use. Overflow from the vault drains into the bayou water feature, which also serves as a detention pond.
A performance pavilion hosts concerts and other types of shows, as well as exercise opportunities and various social events. Tent anchors and plug-ins are provided for food trucks, farmers markets and fairs. A playground encourages exploration as well as activity, with climbing spheres, sound tubes, adult-size swings and interactive pipe sections. The social games area, where patrons can play bocce, washer pitching and other games, is surrounded by lush gardens. Visitors can also enjoy an interactive water feature, dog park, art mural of native plants and pollinators, and multipurpose lawn.
Since the start of construction at Midtown Park, there have been six new private development projects announced within three blocks of the park. These redevelopment projects include mixed-use residential/retail, multifamily and office projects, which taken together are expected to generate an estimated $338 million in new taxable value in the Midtown District.
“First and foremost, our client maintained a 20-year vision for Midtown Park to become a premier park destination for the Midtown District," says Alex Ramirez, principal with Design Workshop, based in Houston, who led the project. "Considering the important role this park would play in the district and on the heels of the success and accolades of our Bagby Street project, which was the highest scoring Greenroads project in the country for six years after construction was completed, our client pushed us to dream bigger and apply similar thinking to this park project. Coincidentally, Design Workshop was afforded an opportunity to participate in the pilot project program of the Sustainable SITES Initiative a few years prior with another project. That experience, coupled with an enthusiastic client willing to pursue this certification, pushed us to pursue SITES certification for Midtown Park," he says.
"The Midtown Redevelopment Authority recognized the value that green space has in an urban context like Midtown,” adds Ramirez. “When we pair enthusiasm for sustainable and resilient thinking with a motivated client who wants to provide their constituents with access to the best amenities in the region, we are given opportunities to build legacy projects that will serve these neighborhoods and districts for many years to come."