Downtown Houston Reimagines a “Girdle” of Highways.
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"8000","speed":"1000","arrows":"true","dots":"false","loop":"true","nav_slide_column":5,"rtl":"false"}
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"8000","speed":"1000","arrows":"true","dots":"false","loop":"true","nav_slide_column":5,"rtl":"false"}

DETAILS

LocationHouston, Texas United States
ClientHouston Downtown Management District
SERVICE:
Size3443 acres

As Houston’s Downtown has developed and expanded over many decades, public green space has been increasingly constrained by several interstate routes: primarily I-59, -45, and -69. These thoroughfares, while essential for commuters, have left little room for workers and nearby residents to enjoy unimpeded access to their locale’s adjacent trailways and bayous, and the benefits of a temperate, if flood-prone, climate.

Working in concert with Houston Downtown Management District, traffic engineers at Walter P. Moore, and major stakeholder groups, SWA brought a fresh perspective to TxDOT’s desire to improve the highway system, envisioning new ways to realign existing routes and in some cases, to move them underground – freeing up the city surface for cap parks and additional connections to the firm’s ongoing work on local bayou trail systems. SWA proposed consolidating the pathways of I-45 with I-69, an approach which removes existing elevated infrastructure, partially relocates it underground, and replaces it with an at-grade parkway that reconnects adjacent districts along the roadway and bayous. This parkway feeds directly into the grid of the downtown streets.

Being located square in the middle of North America’s “sun belt,” Houston, TX is ripe for adaptive, climate-friendly, and civic-minded interventions in this vein. The Houston Green Loop, an outcome of the firm’s earlier planning work, builds on these ongoing efforts to establish a Downtown “girdled” not by freeways, but by open space systems – serving both commuters and bordering communities who had been previously cut off from vital local connections and vibrant ecology. Proposed amenities along the Green Loop incorporate unique, pedestrian-scale experiences that offer meaningful exchanges among neighborhoods and urban districts. The vision reimagines the “civic commons” with trails, running paths, restoration of a historic bridge, and detention ponds to further the project’s resiliency goals.

Exemplifying the vision that landscape architects can bring to urban environments, the careful repositioning, demolition, and consolidation of Downtown Houston’s major rights-of-way paves the way to a more resilient future for cities worldwide.

Related Projects

Mason Park Bridge

Prior to construction of this Brays Bayou feature, road and rail infrastructure had conspired with the waterway to sever connectivity between parks and surrounding neighborhoods. The Mason Park Pedestrian Bridge, part of a larger effort including trails, seating plazas, lighting, and planting, connects the north and south parts of the City of Houston’s Mason P...

Houston Green Loop

With the coming expansion and realignment of the highways around Downtown Houston, SWA identified the opportunity to enact a bold vision: a multi-use branded connectivity system that will leverage the immense reconstruction investment. SWA’s concept creates a continuous pedestrian loop over, under, and around the downtown highway system, thus redirecting the u...

Houston’s Gateway Art Bridges : I-59/69 Beautification

As a city dominated by freeway infrastructure, Houston will be reconstructing portions of its iconic freeways in the near future. This created an opportunity for SWA to reclaim the Houston Interstate experience with a temporary art installation that provides a bold pop of color celebrating Houston’s diversity at eight key threshold bridges along the I-59/69 co...

Buji River Urban Redevelopment Plan

The Buji River urban review master plan integrates strategies of recreation, reconnection, culture, and ecology to bring the river back to the people of Shenzhen. Based on a restored Buji River ecosystem, the urban review master plan for this flourishing environment aims to reconnect the river with the city.

The program is to be implemented at three sca...

Southern Gateway Public Green

The Southern Gateway Public Green will cap Highway 35 in South Dallas directly adjacent to the Dallas Zoo and the Oak Cliff neighborhood.  The park’s design effectively reconnects the neighborhood, which was cleaved by the highway’s construction many decades ago.

Recognizing the reunification’s significance, the cap park design introduces the 12th Stree...

Houston Green Loop

With the coming expansion and realignment of the highways around Downtown Houston, SWA identified the opportunity to enact a bold vision: a multi-use branded connectivity system that will leverage the immense reconstruction investment. SWA’s concept creates a continuous pedestrian loop over, under, and around the downtown highway system, thus redirecting the u...

Ningbo East New Town Eco-Corridor

SWA provided planning and design services for the 3.3km long, 250-acre metropolitan Ningbo Eco-Corridor, which transforms a former agricultural plain that had been taken over by industrial use into urban green infrastructure. Located in the heart of the Yangtze River Delta on China’s coastline, Ningbo is one of China’s oldest cities, with an area of 3,616 squa...

Milton Street Park

Milton Street Park is a  1.2-acre linear urban park alongside the Ballona Creek Bike Trail in Los Angeles, California. The plan incorporates numerous green-design elements, including the use of recycled materials, native planting, flow-through planters and treatment alongside the 1,000-foot-long, 45-foot-wide stretch of land. A variety of special elements such...