Project ArchiTX: North Bayfront Park

With North Bayfront Park, Gignac & Associates and Sasaki Associates have transformed Corpus Christi's automobile-populated, seafront landscape into a public green space featuring sustainable technologies and fostering coastal community.

Project North Bayfront Park, Corpus Christi
Client City of Corpus Christi
Architects Gignac & Associates and Sasaki Associates
Photographer Eddie Seal

Following a devastating Category Four hurricane in 1919 that destroyed downtown, Corpus Christi filled a block into the Corpus Christi Bay to construct a new sea wall that would protect the community from future disasters. Since that time, the bayfront has been defined by Shoreline Drive, a wide boulevard designed preliminarily for automobiles, and has provided limited spaces for pedestrians in the hot South Texas sun.

Our design team created a master plan for the Corpus Christi bayfront, spanning from McGee Beach in the South to the ship channel in the North. The approved master plan called for the relocation of Shoreline Boulevard in order to accommodate new green spaces along the water's edge, thus creating the vision for a new North Bayfront Park. The relocation, reduction of two travel lanes, and removal of the 80-foot wide median of Shoreline Boulevard recaptured the bayfront land and allowed for the creation of North Bayfront Park. Traffic tables, intersection neckdowns, and reduced lanes curtail traffic and improve the public realm for pedestrians. North Bayfront Park is also designed to accommodate festivals and other activities, such as Buccaneer Days. Shoreline Boulevard is closed to traffic for these events to make space for performances, vendors, and pedestrians.

A key feature of the park is an interactive fountain that attracts children and families. Parents can sit at the adjacent cafe in the park, protected from the wind with glass windscreens while watching their children play in the fountain. The cafe is shaded by fabric stretched between posts, while groves of palms and mesquite trees will grow over time to provide shady spots in the park. An arbor is designed to support colorful Bougainvillea planting that shades a walkway leading to the fountain. The arbor fronts an area identified for a future restaurant, which was included in the design to activate and program the park.

North Bayfront Park is sited atop the filled material behind the sea wall constructed after the hurricane. Rainwater from the site is directed to a linear rain garden planted with native costal meadow plants that filter storm water contaminants and allow water to infiltrates into the ground. The costal meadow serves as a reminder to visitors of the costal ecological landscape prior to the sea wall construction and offers environmental education of the native ecological landscape of the bay. The park included 35-foot-tall wind turbines along the waterfront designed to produce energy that goes back into the grid. The wind turbines are also a form of kinetic art, with sculptural qualities derived from the shape and colors of conch shells that expresses the city's distinctive setting on the bay. The turbines will serve as iconic landmarks on the waterfront while providing renewable energy to the park. The introduction of wind power production also makes a cultural and historical connection by harnessing potential harmful winds.

This once auto-centric corridor has been tranformed into a pedestrian haven; ocean breezes and the shady vegetation of the rain garden provide desirable inhabitable spaces for the public. 

The landscape transforms from pedestrian walkway to play area with the intervention of an interactive water fountain. On summer days, children can be found splashing in the water, which provides a cool refuge from the sweltering Texas heat.

Information kiosks illuminate the sidewalks at night, creating vibrant and safe areas for Corpus Christi residents and visitors to enjoy.

Plan view of North Bayfront Park

"Project ArchiTX" is a column on the Texas Society of Architects blog that highlights outstanding architectural projects in Texas, as well as projects designed by Texas architects. The series combines an architectural narrative written by the architect with a photographic essay illustrating the features and techniques demonstrated in the design process. Is there a project you'd like to see featured in "Project ArchiTX"? Email communications@texasarchitects.org to let us know.