COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BUFFALO BAYOU PARK PINCH “When I see the improvements come on line at Buffalo Bayou, I keep thinking to myself ‘what’s the catch? Are these on loan from another city? Will Culberson make us take them down so he can build a new highway?’ But it is really happening. Buffalo Bayou is really turning into Houston’s Central Park (NY’s version does have a private restaurant right in the middle of it–Tavern on the Green). The nature playground on the east end is getting finishing touches as well as the performance space and snack bar over the old waterworks. The only problem I have encountered is the mud that slides down the banks and accumulates on the trails after a heavy rain. But it is much better than it used to be. Who knows. Maybe this is for real. And maybe people will actually start moving to Houston because it is a nice place to live.” [Old School, commenting on Finding Buffalo Bayou’s Lost Lake and Its ‘Morning Glory’ Hole, Almost Ready for Business] Illustration: Lulu
A reader sends pics of 3 notable new features near the western end of Buffalo Bayou Park that appear to be just about complete: The multi-purpose private event space known as The Dunlavy, overlooking a restored and upgraded pond now called Lost Lake — and its signature central feature, a bell-mouth spillway to suck up the overflow, referred to more commonly as a morning glory. That’s the hole in the middle of the water feature; if you look closely at the photos of it below you can see the odd sight of the tip of a construction ladder peeking out at the top:
Here’s the just-completed 250-sq.-ft. Memorial guard post recently completed in Buffalo Bayou Park. It’s right by that spot just south of Buffalo Bayou from Glenwood Cemetery where you’ll always find a cop car or 2, standing guard by the Houston Police Officers Memorial. The sculptor of that 1991 memorial, Jesús Moroles, was killed in an auto accident earlier this month. The new building, designed by Brave Architecture, is meant to allow the off-duty officers posted there to have more of a public presence as they keep an eye on the memorial through the large windows. It will also function as a small visitors center for the memorial.
Last week in gay Paris, authorities removed panels from the Pont des Arts that had been weighted down by hundreds of thousands of attached padlocks — installed there since late 2008 by visiting couples (and sure, probably an obsessed stalker or 7) who sought to commemorate their passions with a lockup and a ritual toss of the key into the River Seine below. Meanwhile, hereabouts in North Montrose, the “Love Lock” scene on the Rosemont Bridge over Buffalo Bayou just west of Downtown appears to be just getting started — the Buffalo Bayou Park version appears to be well behind copycat venues in other cities. While crossing the longer section of the bridge yesterday, Twitter user marathonjohn found 20 to 30 locks attached to the pedestrian crossing’s supports. Here are pics of a few of the ritual lockups he spotted:
A couple of simulatedfly-overs of a portion of a revamped Allen Pkwy., put together by consulting engineering firm Walter P Moore, show how the signature River Oaks-to-Downtown sorta-highway will look after a park-centered makeover is completed next summer. The projected $10 million redo partially answers the question popping up in many people’s minds after seeing all the new trails and structures and amenities and dogs going in along the bayou it lines: How are car-bound Houstonians supposed to get to the new Buffalo Bayou Park?
Part of the answer, of course, is by using 175 new angled parking spaces, most of them lining a new separate parking access lane lining the north side of Allen Pkwy. between Rochow St. and Eleanor Tinsley Park. As the video above (showing the journey eastbound from Montrose Blvd. to Park Vista Dr.) indicates, if you’re headed into Downtown, you’ll need to turn around and head in the opposite direction somewhere to park in one of them. Here’s a video view of the journey westward from Park Vista (across from Eleanor Tinsley Park) back to Montrose Blvd., along which the spots are angled for easy entry:
Here’s a photo from earlier this month showing construction progress on the new Wortham Insurance Visitors Center on Sabine St., fronting the “Waterworks” area of the ever-expanding Buffalo Bayou Park complex. When it’s complete — sometime this summer — the 2,736-sq.-ft. building will house an info desk, a bike-rental facility, and — yes — restrooms. A terrace on top will be available for special events. A gaggle of insurance companies led by Wortham Insurance donated $750K toward the building’s more-than-$1-million construction cost.
The building, designed by Page — the same firm responsible for the buildings on Discovery Green — is meant to serve as the “primary gateway” to Buffalo Bayou Park, including these surrounding features:
How long has it been since you’ve run along, rowed along, or flown over Buffalo Bayou? Guy-out-with-his-Phantom-quadcopter Marco Luzuriaga filmed this scene earlier this month above a short section of the city’s most prominent drainage canal beginning near the Rosemont Bridge, then turning around and heading a ways toward Downtown. He gives up on the waterway and substitutes a bit of downtown-tangling freeway spaghetti near the end, but if you look into the distance around the 1:30 mark, you can catch a quick progress report on reconstruction of Buffalo Bayou Park.
Here’s a rendering that shows how that informal dog bowl along Buffalo Bayou near Montrose Blvd. will be formalized and capitalized into a Dog Park. Construction, says a PR rep for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, will begin the first of the year; the park should be open next winter.
Why, you might wonder, would it take that long to build a place for dogs to romp and run and bark and stuff? Part of it will be creating the pond you can see in the rendering. The pond, which will be treated with a “bio-filter” and native vegetation, is meant to keep said dogs 1) safe and 2) away from the bayou, so they don’t muddy up the banks scrambling in and out of the water and contribute to erosion. Other additions? A purty fence that will separate the pups from the joggers and 2 pavilions, at the top of the hill, that will provide a bit more shade.
Now have at it: SmartGeometrics has made available for free on a website launched yesterday the data from 3D scans of the allegedly leaky, 87,500-sq.-ft. 1927 underground water reservoir near Sabine St. along Buffalo Bayou. Though the Buffalo Bayou Partnership would like to do something cool with the “accidental cathedral,” as Houston Chronicle columnist and cistern sympathizer Lisa Gray has called it, there’s no more funding available. Thus, the partnership is hoping some smart cookie who knows her way around AutoCAD (and programs like it) will use this free data to come up with an idea that woos someone or something else — like, say, Bud Light — to pay to make it happen.
The dirty work continues: Here are some photos of the progress, as of last night, of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s big plan to soup up the soupy waterway.
Above, you can see the new view from Eleanor Tinsley Park, where site work is underway for the Bud Light Amphitheater. Picnic tables, a volleyball court, playground equipment, and a few pine trees are all long gone.
After the jump, you can see more photos of dirt. And photos of the newest pedestrian bridge, inserted between the Houston Police Memorial and the rear of Glenwood Cemetery.
These signs, in versions specially designed for both taller and shorter readers, are now posted on the north side of the recently revamped Buffalo Bayou trail just before it ducks under Memorial Dr., a reader informs Swamplot. Just in case the message isn’t clear: This trail is a bike route. Two sets of double signs are posted, for trailgoers in each direction.
Feel like taking a quick 16-ounce shower after your turn sweating or just watching the action at the Jamail Skatepark? It looks like Matthew Geller’s pipe sculpture at the Sabine Water Pump Station in Buffalo Bayou Park — counterintuitively named Open Channel Flow — is now will soon be open for pumping.
Here’s architect Joe Meppelink of Metalab and family taking a ceremonial first spritz over the weekend:
Reader Jeromy Murphy sends in this photo he took this morning along the banks of Buffalo Bayou, from the jogging path in Buffalo Bayou Park under I-45. What’s going on over there across the water?
While walking back to my office from a downtown meeting, I noticed workers installing new sod along the Bayou. I wonder how long this will last considering the weather report? Anyone along the ship channel need some new sod? It’s probably headed their way.
The foundation for Open Channel Flow — a 60-ft.-tall public artwork built from steel water pipe and featuring a pump-it-yourself outdoor shower — is now in the ground at the Sabine Water Pump Station. Over the fence to the south is the new Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark. When the structure is complete, sweaty skaters — or really, anyone on the north side of Buffalo Bayou Park who’s looking for a quick wet thrill — will be able to stand over the 6-ft.-diameter stainless steel drain cover, yank the rubber handle on the adjacent pump, and get doused by “the equivalent of a few cups” of water, released from the showerhead hanging 30 feet overhead.
But dude: Don’t forget about the blinking light! A strobe at the very top of the structure will flash with each pump. Which will cue bored office workers viewing from Downtown to mark another notch in their cubicles.