The Places a 117-Ft.-Tall Yellow Corkscrew Tower Could Fit In Along Buffalo Bayou

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou ParkArchitect Paul Kweton sends his idea for a multi-deck observation tower for Buffalo Bayou Park, adding to the list of unsolicited but interesting projects dreamed up for the public space. The plans and drawings show stairs spiraling continuously upward around a central elevator shaft, enclosed only by a giant net-like facade (as well as a smaller actual net preventing visitors from exploring the exterior of the structure).

Kweton has 2 potential locations in mind — the rendering above shows the tower on the lawn in Eleanor Tinsley Park, across the bayou from the now open Cistern (the long-defunct 1920s subterranean city water reservoir turned found-art piece and potential exhibit space).  The alternative spot is a little further west across Allen Pkwy., near the 1920s Gillette St. waste-incinerator site sold last year year for redevelopment into the Broadstone Tinsley Park Apartments:


Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Here’s what the tower would look like in the runner-up locale:

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

The structure would provide views of the city throughout the entire trek to the top through its exterior lattice:

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

A few elevator-accessible pop-out decks near the top and middle of the tower would offer net-free views:

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Renderings: Studio PAULBAUT

Dreamt Up Near Downtown

27 Comment

  • Thats pretty cool. I’d like that. The night lighting could be altered nightly to make it an dynamic art piece.

  • not saying that this project isnt cool, and i believe that our cities premier park is deserving of such an amenity. but when is some of the hundreds of millions of dollars going to just Buffalo Bayou, Memorial, Hermann & now Glenbrook Valley going to be at redistributed to other deprived city parks? Tidwell, Wussow (greenspoint), Tufly needs its pool reopened to the public, Independence park all highly used but with old amenities that are poorly kept. and all of these parks combined would only need 10% of those funds to get some update and guaranteed upkeep. Im not trying to be political, but when are we going to start living in a truly equal society. you cant have equality if you arent being equitable, especially a CITY DEPT.

  • doesn’t go with the park and takes away from nice building views from the ground

  • That mesh exterior should let the eventual flood waters drain easily!

  • Looks kinda like a minion.

  • The viewing area isn’t big enough. Having climbed that many stairs people will linger at the top.

  • Beautiful bird roost.

    Seriously, if we want something like this, why not taller than 11 stories? You know, more Space Needle-sized? And maybe they can acquire the Aga Khan land that has sat fallow and flood-prone for the last decade instead of all that freshly minted park land?

  • @ Adoile: Amen to that. While I love and patronize the beautifully reworked Hermann Park, we could spend a few more dollars at the other parks, too.
    @ Native Houstonian: Hilarious but oh-so-true! I can imagine the flotsam clinging to that mesh netting after a flood and left to rot/stink for weeks afterward by the City Parks department.

  • @Adoile – I completely agree with you. I’ve commented on this before. The city needs a Parks strategy to extend a useful, well-maintained park system to all residents. It’s nice to have a few boutique parks, but there are nearly 100+ other parks throughout the city that are languishing unused and ill-kempt. The sad fact is, those parks are not used because they lack amenities that would make them enjoyable, like jogging/walking paths, playground equipment, water features, shade trees, and picnic tables. Implementing minor improvements at all parks, instead of major improvements at just a few parks, would not cost nearly as much and would have a significantly greater impact on the city.

  • Weren’t the vast majority of funds being used on these “premier” parks funded by private donors?
    Not saying it makes it anymore right, but it’s the exact same issue you see with all major city funding issues. Schools and infrastructure in the wealthier parts of town benefit from those living nearby (both individuals and corporations) with the resources, time and money to both donate and raise additional funding.

  • I love grand architectural gestures as much as the next guy, but this just doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t push it far enough. It looks like a corkscrew ramp wrapped in that plastic mesh the put around wine bottles at the liquor store.

  • Mason park could use a few bucks. For that matter the 2nd ward could use a park period. There really isn’t a single major park in the 2nd ward aside from Mason, and that’s a bit too far east.

  • Looks like something I would do in SimCity – Hey, lets plop that thing down in the middle of the residential area so it looks cool!

  • The City got a big bond (@$160 mil, I think) for parks a few years ago. That money has gone to use at neighborhood parks. And then there have been other projects like the renovation at Emancipation Park and Levy Park that happened without the bond money. But I agree that where we stand right now, Buffalo Bayou is in good shape and does not need a big dollar project like this. There are still lots of parks in Houston with dated playground equipment, cruddy pools, and beat up multipurpose areas that need the money. And the tower thing just looks like a giant parking garage ramp.

  • Look! It’s the Tokyo Skytree with the upper 1800′ chopped off!

  • The big money is coming from private donations (Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Herman Park Conservancy, Memorial Park Conservancy), most likely with “strings attached” that requires that they must be used in a specific park. I’m sure the Parks and Rec people would love to do more special projects in the neighborhood parks but it’s also going to require someone with deep pockets to step up for them.

  • It will be very difficult to keep clean with all the little nookies and crannies. Quickly will succumb to that black sooty crap you see on buildings all over the region.

  • Why? It’s frelling hot in Houston. Why not build a freeway overpass? That would provide more shade than this monstrosity.

  • After spending millions to restore the natural beauty of the bayou system, this neon yellow nike advertisement is misplaced. Put it at the Galleria and leave the bayou for people and nature.

  • No, not at the Galleria, it should go in that trash. Terrible design and ugly as hell. Total fail.

  • Agree with the last two comments. The spiraling hill at the Centennial Gardens is also difficult to navigate with the narrow paths. In part to blame by larger and careless residents, then you have groups at the top taking their sweet time getting the selfies just right. Should build it on top of the cistern and not in a flood prone stage lawn.

  • @Adoile – I also agree.

    Charlton Park is in District I, is heavily used, and it too needs many upgrades. (and, ironically, is a voting location)

    Charlton Park is the park the Houston Botanical Gardens plans to place its entrance through to Glenbrook which means the driveway would be across the street (and miles up in the air per the HBG renderings) from the regional library, elementary school and on the side of the street before several churches that many nearby Hispanic and Vietnamese residents walk to along Park Place Blvd. (The HBG did not label these places specifically on a map that was published.)

    Attached is part of a correspondence shared from District I constituent services and the parks department. It was, of course, initiated by some concerned residents.

    “From: Correa, Luci – PRD
    Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2016 10:08 AM
    To: Martinez, Joaquin – CNL”

    “Subject: RE: Charlton Park playground

    RE: 311 # 2056711 Charlton Playground Equipment


    The playground safety team completed their inspection of the playground on February 4. Sorry for my delay in getting this response to you.

    This playground was installed in 1997 making it past its lifespan and replacement parts obsolete, hence the missing clatter bridge and slide blocked with wood panels. Unfortunately there are no low cost options to sprucing it up.

    The cost forecast to replace the playground is $485,000 to $535,000, including design at ~$85k and construction to include equipment, drainage, detention, benches, fall surface, and ADA compliance elements at $400k-450k.


    The impetus there is on the HBG and kibosh on playground equipment because, ya’ know, money. And, if you can imagine an in-kind sized replacement this cost estimate projects, prepare for your joggers to be knocked off.

  • Needs to look less like a dildo.

  • Agree w/wine bottle mesh comparison. Back to the drawing board.

  • Luckily, unless I’m reading it wrong, this is just an ‘architects vision’. Much like the steel frame park of the astrodome that was tossed out a few years ago.
    The city doesn’t need to spend more multimillions on upgrading a park it just completed and had an official opening for last year. Nope, we don’t need that.
    We do need the park/bayou to be cleaned up and added to on the east end of town.
    We do need some love for MacGreggor park.
    That’s just two small projects that I can think of that NEED to be done before the city considers adding more amenities to the BBP.

  • Good grief, it’s an eyesore. Really can’t imagine anyone liking it.

  • PSA

    to clarify my June 13, 2016 9:45 pm comment

    Joggers as in kickers, tennies, zapatillas, sneakers. Not the people wearing them. As in “Knock yer socks off” as in the cost of a smallish piece of playground equipment is the same amount of money as a half down deposit on a million dollar mortgage.
    OK. Back to the tower visions.