Location: Houston, Texas, United States
Developer: Buffalo Bayou Partnership
Designer: SWA Group, Page
Site Size: 160 Acres
The renewed 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park is a critical urban green space, extending upstream of downtown Houston along Buffalo Bayou, the principal drainage system for much of the city. Stretching over 2.3 miles, the park offers Houstonians access to one of the region’s last un-channelized urban waterways. Over 15 miles of pedestrian and bike paths, including 4 pedestrian bridges, offer opportunities to explore the restored ecology of the bayou while promoting healthy activities for Houston’s growing population. Large event lawns, protected gardens, nature play areas and flexible plazas provide the infrastructure to support year-round events, bringing together Houston’s diverse population to the historic birthplace of the city. The park overcame many obstacles to create the right balance between hydraulic, ecological, and park-user needs. Located within one of city’s primary drainage ways, Houston’s floodwaters frequently submerge much of the park. Creative design techniques were employed to create a resilient park environment, able to withstand the destructive forces of the bayou while protecting the investment of these valuable public amenities. The $58-million project was funded through a public-private partnership model, kicked off by a catalyst gift of $30 million with additional funds raised through a capital campaign supported by over 850 local entities. Critical to the long-term success of the park, annual maintenance of $2 million is funded through a local Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone for 30 years. Vicinity to the park has become one of Houston’s most sought-after urban amenities, serving as a catalyst for real estate development and helping to re-brand the city as one that celebrates its diversity and supports a high quality of life. As our increasingly crowded cities search for more parkland, Buffalo Bayou Park acts as a global benchmark for applying creative design and funding to unlock critical green space in the heart of our communities.