Bringing the Streets Downtown Right Into the Lobbies

BRINGING THE STREETS DOWNTOWN RIGHT INTO THE LOBBIES Why isn’t there more street life Downtown? A recent architectural exhibition suggests that one cause might be the sealed world of a tunnel system that’s accessed mainly through closed-off corporate lobbies: “[Rice University’s Bryony Roberts] argues that these [sites] provide opportunities for a new type of public space that would more effectively integrate street activity and subterranean circulation,” explains OffCite’s Helen B. Bechtel. Using studies of One Allen Center, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Reliant Energy Plaza, and Wells Fargo Plaza — imagined here to include ramp-like pedestrian feeders — Roberts shows how “otherwise segregated interior and exterior public spaces” might be linked. The exhibition’s on view — where else? — in the One Allen Center lobby at 1200 Smith. [OffCite; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Bryony Roberts via OffCite

17 Comment

  • Maybe because the streets smell like pee?

  • We want to keep the bums out of tunnels. Building lobbies have security guards. So we put the tunnel entrances in building lobbies.

    Unfortunate to have to keep out the regular folks, but that’s the way it is.

  • “sealed world of a tunnel system that’s accessed mainly through closed-off corporate lobbies”

    Which entrances to the tunnel system aren’t accessable to the public? I think its more of an awareness issue than an access issue.

  • The tunnel entry points at street level are rarely behind controlled access lobbies, but you do have to go in to a building to get in to them.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this is much of an impediment to anyone except perhaps first time visitors that have not done any research about DT prior their visit.

    I had it figured before I started working DT full time.

  • If the streets smell like pee it is because of the horse cops. Seriously, walking down Main Street is like walking through a barn, and it isn’t the fault of the homeless — it is the dang horses. Why do we need horse cops anyways? Can’t cops get around on bike, or scooter, or something that doesn’t leave piles of poop in the middle of the street?

  • No the pee smell is the homeless too. I rarely see horses peeing in the streets, I see the homeless doing it often.

  • The problem is most people who work downtown grew up somewhere in Texas, and so they don’t know what they’re missing out on as far as a walkable downtown. They hear downtown streets and they think, “Ewww, bums,” because that’s all Houston has been for decades, and thus all they know. They have a basic suburban mentality in which urban environment can only mean dirtiness and danger.

  • Evan – I’m pretty sure that the horses are on regular patrol as some kind of city marketing kitsch. They are very effective in contolling large crowds, but day to day, apart from the good view that they offer the officers, I’m not sure how necessary they are.

    Bum toilets are usually fairly localized in my experience, but they do pop up in odd places on occasion.

  • They won’t stop you if you walk into Two Shell Plaza and take the escalators down. Nobody will even pay attention.

  • Mike (comment #7) comment of the day. I think the problem is also a failure to market the tunnels as something that exists. Not sure how long it would have taken me to discover them if not for working in a building with escalators my first time here—I’ll bet most people down here for the first time just wonder where all the people are and move on…

  • Street life is weak because all the daylife is in the tunnels.

    Hey I know, we can increase the street life by making it even easier for everyone to get to the tunnels????????????

    I have never been challenged when entering or exiting the tunnels, and I often look kind of like a bum.

  • one of the example buildings (wells fargo) already has exterior access to the tunnels from the street via steps down into their patio area where you don’t need to go through the building lobby.

  • I work in the the Allen Center and there is nothing to stop folks from using surface street options except a lack of quality and too much redundancy in the nearby lunch options. The idea that we need to entice people from the street (rather than to the street) into the already crowded and over-used western tunnels is strange if not confounding. Tomorrow go see how many people leave their offices to eat lunch at the farmer’s market, a welcome respite to the everyday lunch options. Ideally I’d prefer to work closer to Main St. to have more lunch options and better sidewalks (i.e. no crazy drivers).

  • Signeage.

  • I love the horses and the police are very contentious and cleanly. Street people/drug addicts/maybe homeless do use downtown as a restroom. Buildings should be forced to pressure hose the sidewalks every night for health safety. All of the bus stops are bad. There isn’t enough room for people to sit or stand.Please add more public art and green spaces.Over all there is very little clean , safe public space. I am a huge fan of the tunnels and I think people just don’t know where the access point are.

  • Several reasons: homeless people pee in the streets /some horse pee & poop;it is hotter than hell on the streets in the summer/there is NO street life downtown (as most of downtown is populated by daytime workers who commute back to their Stepford Lives in soul crushing suburbia). No developer has ANY incentive/reason to build in Downtown.Give it another 20 years. And the City unofficially DOES NOT want anyone there. Look at the recent food truck debacle: our own City Council members are OWNED by the restaurant industry and want to keep ALL competition aka food trucks out of the 77002 ZIP code. I could go on but y’all get the jist.

  • Where r some access points? And where can I park? Ill love to take my gf there….anyone?