This research project examined the flood resilience of a park along the principal river system in Houston.  The study focused on understanding how elements of the design and construction of a 160 acre section of Buffalo Bayou Park contributed to a high level of resilience during and after catastrophic flood events like Hurricane Harvey, which brought heavy rains, increased water velocity, and extended submergence.  Findings included construction details that allowed $2.75million in damages and maintenance to be avoided, the importance of submergible custom fixtures and furnishings, the best slope stabilization type, and the prevention of 84,000 gallons of runoff annually.  Researchers utilized high water elevations, geospatial datasets, an on-site survey, and ecosystem services models.  The investigation was conducted with researchers from University of Texas at Arlington and funded by the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Landscape Performance Series through a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Works grant.  The study follows up on an earlier LAF study on Buffalo Bayou Promenade and continues SWA’s work on post-occupancy assessment for the sixth year.


Anya Domlesky and Andrew Gressett, XL research and innovation Lab at SWA
Michael Robinson and Scott McCready, SWA
Amanda Aman and Yalcin Yildirim, University of Texas, Arlington


Megan Barnes, the Landscape Architecture Foundation
Buffalo Bayou Partnership
Harris County Flood Control District
Katy Prairie Conservancy
Henry Morris, BCycle Houston
Neil Brewer, BikeBarn
Nathan Marquez, EaDo
ETM Associates
Jonnu Singleton and Maribel Amador, SWA


Texas ASLA Merit Award for Landscape Architectural Research

Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA)
Great Places Award-Place Research. “Double Duty Parks: Two Studies on the Performance of Social Spaces as Resilient Flood Infrastructure”

Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) Conference
“Evaluating the Success of Public Space as Flood Infrastructure: An Analysis of Resilience in Two Parks Post-Hurricane.”

International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) Conference
“Learning from Disaster: What Two Hurricanes Reveal About Designing Public Space as Flood Infrastructure”

Designing Landscape Architectural Education
“Adapting Practice for the Future of Landscape-driven Urban Design”

Utah State University
“Practice-Based Research for a Changing World”

ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture
“Landscapes in Flux: Lessons from Three Exemplary Waterfronts”

Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Landscape Research Record
“A ‘Texas Three-Step’ Landscape Performance Research”

Birkhäuser Publishers
River.Space.Design: Planning Strategies, Methods and Projects for Urban Rivers

Yildrim, Y., Keshavarzi, G., & Aman, A. R. (2021). Can urban parks help with disaster risk reduction through educational awareness? A case study of Hurricane Harvey. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 61, 102377.