Imagining a People-Friendly Allen Pkwy. Crossing

IMAGINING A PEOPLE-FRIENDLY ALLEN PKWY. CROSSING Integrated Urbanism Design Project“Texas is not a safe place to walk and bike,” writes Allyn West on OffCite this morning, taking a closer look at one of the entries released by architects at Gensler as part of a January exhibition of speculative design projects for neglected sites and structures around Houston. The Integrated Urbanism plan sets a towering mixed-use commercial and residential development on a narrow 11-acre plot of land along Buffalo Bayou; the entire complex is sewn together by a zig-zagging “park link,” which connects areas of greenspace and culminates in a bridge across Allen Pkwy. into the Buffalo Bayou trail system. West notes that projects in Houston can only do so much to make themselves pedestrian-friendly if pedestrians can’t get to those spaces: “Even our best mixed-use projects tend to be islands — walkable from within, once you arrive, but disconnected from the city. Houston, it seems, is good at fences, less so at bridges. [OffCite] Rendering of Integrated Urbanism from Buffalo Bayou Park: Gensler

18 Comment

  • Wow. There are people who will just never be satisfied. The author of this article cites going from Hotel Zaza to Herman Park as a “pedestrian unfriendly” area. She has to cross three streets (all of which have pedestrian signals) and a park road with a crosswalk to get to the park. Maybe she should have the Hotel Zaza shuttle drop her off instead.

  • Speaking of the Aga Kahn property, are we still buying the volleyball nets and trailer on an overgrown lot as sufficient evidence that they are using the property to keep from having to pay property taxes? Are they ever going to do anything with the property?

  • @Matthew Wylie: I’m no urbanist, but the crosswalks and pedestrian signals around Hermann Park are largely ignored by car drivers. I see near misses just about every week.

  • good luck getting anything to happen with that ‘religious’ piece of land. Like old school said, are we sill buying their BS that the property is being used in a manor that should be exempt from property taxes??? So sad that such a great piece of land has sat there for sooooo long as a place for people in the overpriced apartments next door with dogs to walk to so they can take a crap

  • Why would the Aga Khan Foundation property be exempt from taxes?

  • @ Walker: a “church” is exempt

  • I’ve been advocating for years removing property tax exempt status from any religious organization. If they have money for gold ornamentation, international travel to spread bovine excriment to gullible masses in the 3rd world, and attorney fees to protect child milestones, they can pay the taxes.

  • The Rosement Bridge (also know by the horrible Tolerance Bridge) across Buffalo Bayou had another component that stretched across Allen Parkway at the east side of the Aga Kahn property.

    When the TIRZ couldn’t get an agreement with the property owner, that part of the bridge was eliminated.

    Also, don’t forget that the reconstruction of Allen Parkway will incorporate many pedestrian enchancements.

    The TIRZ and other districts/neighborhoods are still working to get improved access to the Bayou from the south of Allen Parkway.

  • @Waller: religious organizations can only hold vacant propert under tax exempt status for a certain period of time before they lose tax exempt status. That is why they put up volleyball nets and a trailer on the property to make it look like there was some sort of recreational use going on. But it is clearly just a sham.

  • Why does the tower have to look like something built in Eastern Europe in the 1980s?

  • One man’s feature is another man’s bug.

  • @ Commonsense:

    I get it – you’re an atheist. But please stop with the nasty comments about religion here, this is an architecture forum.

  • Having lived in Houston for decades, I view the challenge of figuring out where to park and walk safely as just part of being a resident of a city.
    If it is too much of a challenge to others, I’d recommend an indoor track. Indoor cats should stay indoors. Just saying.

  • @Justin Timbergrove, technically it’s an all encompassing real estate forum, with the current topic involving a property held by a religious organization by seemingly unscrupulous means, hence its fair game.

    If I were to propose here that I start a BS religion to dodge property taxes, you would be all up in arms and getting torches and pitchforks. Why is their made up religion or your made up religion more qualified to avoid paying for schools and infrastructure than my Church of Common Sense and Moby Dick?

  • Although I like the Gensler mixed use idea, this site would be a great location for the natural swimming hole.

  • > Speaking of the Aga Kahn property, are we still buying the volleyball nets…

    Hey, don’t forget the AKYSB games. Coming soon. But really, that lot is and always was meant as a backdrop for rollerskating guy. If that’s not worth a prop tax break, I don’t know what is.

  • The design of the tower exterior is hideous. All of the designs in this Gensler ideas show have some good planning concepts but the exterior designs are all unfortunately very weak.

  • This is hilarious. The title is “A Mixed-Use Vision for Buffalo Bayou that Privileges Pedestrians and Cyclists,” but the article is about building a huge private development on the Aga Khan site. Which is great. Private development is great.
    But cloaking everything in flowery verbiage about sustainability urbanism and whatnot is the sort of bullsh*t I expect from the coastal cities. We’re not supposed to have to do that in Houston, where there’s no zoning, where you can build most stuff as-of-right. To my knowledge, there’s been no recent rule change regarding private development, so that must mean people are spewing this bullsh*t because they *want* to. They’re so used to greenwashing everything that they’ve grown to *enjoy* linguistic obfuscation, and they’re bringing it here.
    Please, stop.