Houston First Is Ready To Redo the Last Jones Plaza Redo

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:


The plaza is perched above the multi-block underground Theater District parking garage, with driveway entrances on its north and south sides.

Included in the master plan of Downtown’s Theater District engineering and design firm Arup completed for Houston First in 2015 was this image of a vision for a Jones Plaza redo:

Photos: Culturemap (top); Rowyn Adriano (Louisiana St. entrance) [license]


13 Comment

  • The Theater District needs an park like the pictured renovation!

  • The plan shown looks like they’re trying to go more Discovery Green with this version….attract more people. That side of downtown has a sort of abandoned feel at times and it might be some minor competition between the east and west sides of downtown during this phase of residential growth. It would be nice to have polar park areas that connect easily and beautifully.

  • I dunno. Given this location, it needs to have a purpose that attracts its use by office workers before 5pm as well as allowing for use by theater goers and outdoor performances after 5pm (and minimizing use by the homeless). I don’t know how you do that — perhaps space for food trucks? Hipsters love those right. But even the rendering above doesn’t include enough trees to make me want to sit in there and have lunch.

  • @middleground not enough trees? Sounds like you may need to see an eye Doctor. Also, god forbid a “homeless person” steps foot in a park

  • The plaza should be restored to its original 1968 appearance.

  • Food trucks here would be great!

  • Middle Ground is spot on… Needs more trees! Build it out to bring back something similar to party on the plaza. However, i think it got rowdy at times due to the type of performers. So upscale it with performances that attract those that frequent the theaters that surround the plaza. Kind of like a mini Hatch Shell in Boston that hosts the Boston Pops and other performances.

  • i know ive regularly seen this thing getting used for small festival type events on the weekends, and i thought i saw something about them bringing back party on the plaza. i really don’t see why they think its inadequate how it is since it seems to be getting good use. market square park is only a few blocks away if you want another little park. would be better to spend the money on another park space that needs the rehab more.

  • Seems like the old Jones Plaza had mature live oak trees and a simple, somewhat classic design, with the four large stairways leading to a stage area in sort of a ziggurat shape. I guess the problems were wasted space in the green areas between the stairways and handicapped access. Will be a long time until we see trees that large there, although I guess transplanting can work.

  • Wow, someone spending money like a bored housewife. The park needs nothing other than events. Sure they host a few smaller festivals and food truck events but nothing like Party on the Plaza days. Events attract people! Never have I gone to a park and said, “you know this could use a water element” and left. I agree with unnecessary – renovate a park that actually needs it.

  • More bureaucrats creating wasteful make work projects. I wonder how much nepotism is involved in this waste of tax payer dollars? First Houston’s PR mouthpiece will come out and say it’s not taxpayer dollars. Then who is repaying all of the bonds that’ll be used to finance this wasteful project? The TAXPAYERS.

  • cmoney: There is a website (or maybe facebook page) that categorizes odd uses of quotes. Like “‘Fresh’ hamburgers”. Causes one to think “Wait a second, why did they put ‘fresh’ in quotes? Are they not really fresh?”
    That’s what I thought when I saw your comment saying ‘god forbid a ‘homeless person’ goes to the park’. Was the quote due to the fact you don’t see them as “homeless’ but rather ‘residence challenged’ or whatever the PC term is today?

  • The Theatre District should have a “classic” formal downtown park. Perhaps a band shell for the smaller symphony groups where they could give free concerts in the off season, a restful retreat during the day for downtown workers. Im thinking Boston Common, Dallas Warren Park, London’s St. James…..and a pedestrian walk that connects all of Downtown Houston’s “unique” and different Park spaces.
    Let Market SQ, and Discovery Green have the festivals, food trucks and noise. Can’t we just have a quiet park without the dog runs and kiddie areas? All the parks don’t have to be the same old same old.