|Type||Municipal (Houston, Texas)|
|Area||11.78 acres (47,700 m2)|
|Operated by||Discovery Green Conservancy|
|Parking||630-space underground parking garage|
Discovery Green is a public urban park in Downtown Houston, Texas, United States. Opened in 2008, Discovery Green 11.78-acre (47,700 m2) is located on Avenida de las Americas across from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel, adjacent to Toyota Center. The park includes a lake, bandstands and venues for public performances, two dog runs, a children's area and multiple recreational areas. The park was principally designed by the landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates.
The first event held at the park was Houston Mayor Bill White's 2008 inauguration. The park officially opened to the public on April 13, 2008. It is estimated that almost a quarter-million people visited the park between opening day and June 30, 2008. The estimates were made by comparing the size of crowds with the Houston Police Department's estimate of 30,000 people who went to the park on opening day.
The City of Houston acquired a portion of the land in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center in 2002. When the rest of the property went up for sale, a group of philanthropists led by Maconda Brown O’Connor of the Brown Foundation, and Nancy G. Kinder of the Kinder Foundation approached then-Mayor Bill White with their idea of turning the space into an urban park. The Mayor agreed and became a strong advocate of a public-private partnership was developed for the $125 million project. Several other philanthropic foundations joined the effort, including the Wortham Foundation and the Houston Endowment, Inc.
The City of Houston purchased the remainder of the land in 2004 and created the framework for the park’s construction and operations, including the role of the new organization, Discovery Green Conservancy, incorporated in 2004.
When the Houston City Council approved the contracts to provide partial funding and support to the park, it also mandated that the “public at large” be engaged in the design and development of the park. With the guidance of Project for Public Spaces, the Conservancy mounted the large public meetings and smaller focus groups to solicit public feedback. This feedback became the basis for the park’s programming.
Hargreaves Associates, an internationally renowned landscape architecture firm based in San Francisco, oversaw the design effort. Page [formerly PageSoutherlandPage] designed the park's architecture and Larry Speck was their lead architect. Lauren Griffith Associates. provided landscape and horticultural design services. Artists Margo Sawyer and Doug Hollis were integral members of the design team and produced three works of art for the park. A large team of local and international engineers and specialists supported the core design team. Elmore Public Relations was contracted for marketing and public relations.
The Kinder Foundation provided $10 million to help fund the $125 million project.
- Anheuser-Busch Stage - a performance stage
- Jones Lawn - a 2-acre (8,100 m2) grass lawn for lounging, offering views of the skyline
- The Brown Foundation Promenade - a shaded walkway, lined with 100-year-old live oak trees
- Wortham Foundation Gardens - 1-acre (4,000 m2) of flowering trees, plants, fountains and works of art
- Kinder Lake - a 1-acre (4,000 m2) lake lined with native wetland plants
- Gateway Fountain - The fountain offers a view of water activity atop a sloping granite surface to the park
- The Natural Gardens - wetland and upland gardens extending the length of the park
- The Landforms - several sculpted grassy knolls with views of downtown Houston
- McNair Foundation Jogging Trail - tree-shaded promenades on which to stroll to the lake and children’s area
- Maconda's Grove - where persons can play bocce on the Carruth Foundation Bocce Courts
- The John P. McGovern Playground
- Hagstette Putting Green
- Two dog runs - one for large dogs and another for smaller dogs with seating areas for their owners
- Approximately 630-car underground parking garage.
The Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, best known as the creators of Cafe Annie, operates two restaurants on site. The Grove serves lunch and dinner in a "signature restaurant" setting, while The Lake House offers casual fare.
On occasions Discovery Green has an ice skating rink.
- Monument au Fantóme - A piece of artwork by Jean Dubuffet donated by Dan Duncan was moved from 1100 Louisiana in downtown Houston in October 2007 after some restoration. The estimated value of this sculpture is $1 million, including restoration. It was created between 1969 and 1971 as part of the Hourloupe series.
- Synchronicity of Color - Nationally acclaimed artist Margo Sawyer's installation graces both exits of the underground garage, with accents at The Grove and The Lake House. The 151 panels hold 1,500 aluminum boxes in 65 colors. The paint on these boxes is also used in under water applications for oil rigs and was gifted by International Paint LLC. Some elements are kamelion car paint color and also Dicroic film, a new technology and application.
- Listening Vessels - Sculptor Doug Hollis’ Listening Vessels, a gift from Maconda Brown O’Connor, sits in the midst of the Urban Gardens, an ideal setting for these serene and graceful pieces. The two parabolas, cut from solid limestone and spaced 60 feet (18 m) apart, epitomize Hollis’ desire to call attention to events that are taken for granted, such as conversation. Visitors are intended to come across the vessels and gain an understanding of their function as they realize they can hear the words of another person speaking at a normal volume, a great distance away.
- Mist Tree - Hollis also created the Mist Tree, a gift from Fayez Sarofirm, located next to the playground. The Mist Tree is a 15-foot (4.6 m)-high-by-22-foot-wide stainless steel structure that is sited to attract people to the park. Visible from beyond the park’s boundaries, the rain curtain and mist streams generated by the tree will entice children and adults to refresh themselves in its delightful shower.
Planned events and uses
Discovery Green offers a variety of programming throughout the year. All events at the park are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Discovery Green presents Houston's performing, literary and visual art in its Art Series. Discovery Green's Entertainment Series offers movies, Extreme Wii competitions, and concerts by musicians that present a variety of Gulf Coast and Central Texas sounds. The Healthy Living in the Park series offers a weekly urban market and exercise classes such as Pilates, Yoga, Parkour and Zumba as well as a Hip2BFit exercise class just for kids. The Families & Children Series offers hands-on workshops and activities suitable for children and their parents.
On weekends, families can visit the park, put their pets in one of two dog runs and watch their kids play on the playground while they discard their newspapers and cans into recycling bins.
- Discovery Green Park Features - Discovery Green Conservancy
- "Hargreaves Associates - Hargreaves Associates Discovery Green - Houston Downtown Park". Retrieved 2009-02-05.
- Mike Snyder (2008-08-17). "Discovery Green exceeds hopes by leaps and bounds". chron.com, The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
- "Discovery Green earns LEED Gold certification." Houston Business Journal. Tuesday October 13, 2009. Retrieved on October 19, 2009.
- Restaurants - Discovery Green Conservancy
- Morgan, Kim. "CREATING COLD FUN Business icy, not dicey Local ice rink company known worldwide." Houston Chronicle. Thursday January 21, 2010. ThisWeek 1. Retrieved on July 16, 2010.
- Downtown art landmark donated to new city park
- Houston's new park combines green space, amenities
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