08/24/17 1:00pm

The City of Houston website may still describe Jones Plaza as a “fully renovated” public square that forms the centerpiece of the city’s Theater District downtown, but Houston First appears ready to fully renovate it again. The quasi-public agency says it will select 5 teams from among any “experienced urban design firms, landscape architects or architects capable of creating an inspired, iconic, accessible and welcoming design” that apply before September 5 to create preliminary designs for a redo. Among the possibly familiar items listed for inclusion on the redesign menu: a water element, a “green oasis with seasonal plantings,” a performance space, an art installation, and a 4,000-sq.-ft. fast-casual restaurant.

Jones Plaza’s current design, which features similar items, dates from a 2001 rebuild led by Bricker+Cannady Architects; that renovation lowered and canted the previously raised plaza surface so that all steps could be removed from the Louisiana St. side facing Jones Hall:

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Do-Overs
03/10/17 11:15am

Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston, 77017

Demolition of Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, HoustonThe arched pavilion in Meadowcreek Park that was knocked down in 2015 has officially been replaced, after a few years of neighborhood-city back-and-forth to push for the new structure’s design to look a lot more like the old one. The court, pictured up top complete except for the addition of the hoops and backboards to the posts at the opposing ends, got a ceremonial fabric snipping yesterday evening, Lauren Meyers tells Swamplot. This version of the structure appears to lack the thin vertical bars that closed off one side of the original, as visible both in the mid-act demolition portrait above and in this shot from the 1970s: 

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What’s Old is New Again
11/18/16 11:30am

EaDo Development Map

Some bidding has been going on this fall for more work in the southernmost section of the abandoned stretch of Bastrop St.’s right-of-way south of the Dynamo stadium (highlighted in green above and these days going by the name Houston International Promenade, after the plans for a more elaborate Sisters Cities Promenade fell through).  The linear greenspace has had some landscaping installed over the course of the past few years, along with a walking path; the next addition to the southern end of the strip looks to be exactly-what-it-sounds-like EaDog Park.

Calls for contractors for the dog park’s construction were floated around in September; as the placement of the words on the map above suggests, EaDog would stretch along the would-be Bastrop St. right-of-way between the trace of would-be Clay St. and already-is Polk St., on the next block south from 8th Wonder Brewery. The map above is part of what looks to be a recent-ish what’s-where showpiece from the EaDo Management District (tucked in with the current LoopNet listing for Start Houston’s on-the-market building). The larger version of the map purports to show development since 1995 in and around the neighborhood, which is outlined in black below:

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Giving Bastrop St. To the Dogs
11/10/16 5:15pm

Meadowcreek Village Park, Houston, TX 77017
Meadowcreek Village Park old pavilion structure

Members of the area civic club send some shots of the now-demolished basketball pavilion and its under-construction replacement at Meadowcreek Village Park, off Forest Oaks Dr. south of Patterson Elementary. The arched structure shown above, designed in 1961 by partial River Oaks Shopping Center architect R.H Brogniez, was originally constructed from wood (which got some repairs and lamination in 1997, but was in pretty bad shape by the court’s closure in 2014).

The city initially planned to replace the structure with something else, but received a string of requests from neighborhood residents to keep and repair the original design. Instead, the replacement pavilion (designed by M2l Architects) will look a lot like the original, but done in steel:

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Mod Sports Court Redo
11/08/16 11:15am

HOW THE GREEN THAT’S GREENING UP HOUSTON IS GROWING Renderings of Houston Botanic Garden at Glenbrook Park Golf Course, Glenbrook Valley, Houston, 77017Houston, which as Allyn West writes in the latest edition of Rice Business was “once defined primarily by its freeways and parking lots”, has been catching some attention outside the Outer Outer Loop for its surge in spending on parks and public spaces in the last decade or so, with more in the pipeline: in-progress and still-on-the-drawing-board plans include redos of Levy Park, Emancipation Park, Memorial Park, the Houston Arboretum, and turninge the Sims Bayou-straddling site of Glenbrook Park Golf Course into a Seuss-ical Houston Botanic Garden (shown above). Also on the radar of folks watching Houston’s slow greenification, West notes: the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars for the new or boosted green spaces have come from private fundraising and donations, and that most of the projects are being developed through public-private partnerships, which “allow certain parks to be chosen, so to speak, so as to be better stewarded by private philanthropy.”[Rice Business] Image of proposed Houston Botanic Garden: West 8

03/24/16 4:00pm

Rendering of Buffalo Bayou Cistern Converted to Bathhouse
Rendering of Buffalo Bayou Cistern Converted to BathhouseAs Buffalo Bayou Partnership continues to seek out tour guides for the cavernous 1927 city water reservoir and maybe-future-art-space buried in Buffalo Bayou Park, University of Houston architecture grad Sheridan Staats sends over her design for turning the structure into a split-level public bath house, complete with pools, saunas, gardens, a bike trail connection, and a cafe. Renderings and schematics are showcased in Staats’s undergraduate thesis, which also dives into global bath house and infrastructure history and the case for reusing the site in a way that nods to its utilitarian aquatic past.

The kelley green box on the map above shows the cistern’s buried footprint on the north shore of Buffalo Bayou (in blue), just west of Sabine St. and south of Memorial Dr.; the darker green line passing through the southwest edge of the cistern shows a plan to run the bayou’s bike trail into the cistern and onto a suspended causeway:

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Underwater Underground
03/10/16 10:45am

The Cistern, Buffalo Bayou Park near Sabine St. at Memorial Dr., Houston, 77007

Update, 3/24: BBP has updated the link to and language of the job posting; this story has been updated.

Wanted: Buffalo Bayou Partnership is seeking some college types folks to show people around the long-empty city drinking water reservoir near the intersection of Sabine St. and Memorial Dr., which the group also hopes to turn into a temporary art space some day. The “accidental cathedral” was only accessible by a set of hatches and 14-foot ladders back when BBP first examined it; a $1.2-million grant is being used to bring the 87,200-sq.-ft. underground space up to code for visitors.

The cistern, nicknamed after the 6th-century reservoir beneath Istanbul, lies just north of the Lee and Joe Jamail Skate Park beneath what will become a raised outdoor lawn intended for concerts and events at Buffalo Bayou Park. The 1927 reservoir was drained and decommissioned decades ago after it started leaking uncontrollably; the structure was planned for demolition and fill-in by the city around the time the park’s planners took an interest in the space, initially imagining uses like parking and mulch storage.

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Work in the Underground
03/08/16 2:30pm

Renovation of Sunset Coffee Building at Allen's Landing, Downtown, Houston, 77002

A shiny new cistern is now in place at the former Sunset Coffee building at Allen’s Landing, which Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston First have been redeveloping into an office-topped boat-and-bike-rental spot.  The 1910 coffee roasting facility has once again donned walls after moving past a Summer 2014 minimalist phase, and is currently decked out in a muted Café du Monde orange.

The no-longer-see-through structure is back to limiting the view from the Harris County Jail across the bayou (visible on the far right, above). A set of stairs are in place alongside the new cistern, along with railings around what appears to be the planned rooftop terrace.

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Nearing Launch at Allen’s Landing