Perspectives 1 & 2
Perspectives 3 & 4
Perspectives 5 & 6
Letter to residents & businesses, 12.08.09
NEW MARKET SQUARE PARK TO BREAK GROUND –
USHERING IN NEW ERA FOR HOUSTON’S HISTORIC DISTRICT
HOUSTON – December 15, 2009 – The Houston Downtown Management District hosted a groundbreaking ceremony today launching the construction of the new Market Square Park, the geographic centerpiece of downtown Houston’s Historic District. Construction will commence by the end of the year with a targeted mid-2010 completion.
The urban green space plays a critical role in creating a sense of community for downtown residents and businesses. Recognizing the significance of the park to the area, the Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District), Downtown Redevelopment Authority and City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department are spearheading a redesign to give the green space a much-needed makeover.
“We have earmarked funds in our 2009 and 2010 operating budgets to pay for the project,” notes Jaime Mize, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Houston Redevelopment Authority. “With the renovation of Market Square Park, we will further our goal of helping create a true urban neighborhood in the north end of downtown and encourage property owners in the area to develop their properties, many of which are large tracts of parking lots.”
Lauren Griffith Associates – the local landscape architecture firm that was involved in the high profile and immensely successful Discovery Green – has been tapped to design the new incarnation of Market Square Park. Griffith is a Houston-based registered landscape architect with 30 years experience in the field. Additional projects include Sesquicentennial Park and the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo at Hermann Park. Rounding out the team is Ray + Hollington Architects (RHA) and Tribble & Stephens Constructors. Founded in 1991, RHA has worked with a diverse range of clients including universities, schools, and liturgical, municipal and technical facilities. RHA previously teamed with Lauren Griffith Associates on Sesquicentennial Park. Tribble & Stephens was founded in 1972 when former University of Texas at Austin classmates Jay Tribble and James Stephens joined forces. Since that time, Tribble & Stephens has constructed more than 2700 projects totaling over $2 billion throughout the greater southwest.
The philosophy of the new Market Square Park design is built upon three pillars: interpretation of the space’s history; creation of an active, urban green space; and conservation and exhibition of artwork. A layering approach will be used to integrate all of these program elements. Anchoring the space will be a central lawn that will be placed where the old 19th Century City Hall used to stand in order to evoke a sense of history.
A crescent-shaped dog run on the Milam Street (west) side will give pet lovers an attractive and active place to unleash their dogs while remaining aesthetically pleasing, even when not in use. Behind the dog run, a beautifully lit crescent shaped fence and walkway will arc through the park from north to south and serve as a history walk. A small restaurant (the Distirct is currently in negotiations with Niko Niko's to operate) with outdoor seating, trellis providing shade, and a dual plaza / performance area will stand on the Travis Street (east) side of the park. A double row of oak trees will line Preston on the block’s south end, extending to Sesquicentennial Park and framing the Malou Flato tiled benches.
Art will remain a major component as the park is redesigned. The work in Market Square Park – as it currently exists – is a collaboration of artists coordinated by DiverseWorks. Those same artists – Richard Turner, Paul Hester, James Surls and Malou Flato – are playing a role in the redesign, along with newcomer Ketria Scott. The older pieces will be moved or updated, while new installations will be designed to fit snuggly within the feel of the new space. Artwork in the park will be managed by the Houston Arts Alliance, the organization that manages and maintains the City of Houston’s 400+ piece art collection.
The new Market Square Park will also include Lauren’s Garden, a memorial effort from the college scholarship foundation set up to honor Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas – a passenger on United Flight 93. A water feature will provide an intimate reflective setting, and Scott is creating a sculpture piece for the site. Seasonal flowers, flowing trees, and a memorial to all victims of 9/11 will characterize the area located at the Congress (north) end of the central lawn. Her parents, Lawerence and Barbara Catuzzi, were present at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Market Square Park’s redesign is a central component of an ongoing development program focused on freshening and enhancing Houston’s Historic District. “We have been working with business owners and property owners for the past several years on repositioning the Historic District into a true urban neighborhood,” says Downtown District Executive Director Bob Eury. “Clean and safe initiatives have been implemented as have increased efforts to build and attract new retail.”