Posts

A Language of Movement

The environment exists for the purpose of movement. —Lawrence Halprin, in Progressive Architecture 46 (July 1965) On a bluff overlooking the Trinity River, just on the north edge of downtown Fort Worth, Lawrence Halprin’s Heritage Park Plaza sits vacant. Closed to the public since 2007 due to structural and safety concerns, Halprin’s urban park and water garden — the only one of the public spaces he designed for Texas that remains intact — is gradually sliding into ruin after years of neglect. (Aside: Halprin also designed the original landscaping of NorthPark Center in Dallas; however, after several expansions of the…

A Gateway and a Hill

Houston’s 445-acre Hermann Park, inaugurated in 1914 — tied together with Rice University and the Museum of Fine Arts by a majestic live oak-studded section of Main Street — forms the nucleus of the city’s most impressively planned sequence of public spaces. After a period of shocking neglect by the city during the postwar years, in the early 1990s Hermann Park Conservancy was formed by a group of concerned citizens. Shortly thereafter, they commissioned an imaginative master plan by the Philadelphia landscape architect Laurie Olin that they have been methodically implementing since it was officially approved by the city council…

A New Sculpture Garden for Austin’s Laguna Gloria

Boston-based landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand is expanding its Texas portfolio and leading the re-imagination of The Contemporary Austin’s historic Laguna Gloria site. Situated along Lake Austin in the Tarrytown neighborhood, Laguna Gloria is home to the 1916 Driscoll Villa and its surrounding gardens. The Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park redesign will provide a much-needed space for the display of contemporary art and an overdue facelift for the gardens.  Reed Hilderbrand, working in collaboration with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Urban Design Group, has been charged with re-imagining the 12-acre site along the water’s edge. Principal-in-charge Chris…

Snøhetta’s College Park Pavilion

The College Park Pavilion by Snøhetta is the most recent addition to the Park Pavilions of Dallas program. The initiative brings design talent into outlying or underprivileged areas to construct or renovate park shelters. The program is managed by the Director of Parks and Recreation Willis Winters, FAIA. (See his profile in the January/February 2014 issue of Texas Architect). Prior pavilions have been featured in this magazine, and most were designed by Texas architects with some notable out-of-state participation. To date, Snøhetta is the only international office involved. The park structure was initially the firm's second American commission after the National…

Oklahoma’s 21st Century Park: Myriad Botanical Gardens

The impressive overhaul of Oklahoma City’s Myriad Botanical Gardens represents the latest effort by today’s landscape architects to conceptualize urban parks, not as pastoral retreats, but as highly programmed spaces that attract the greatest number of visitors. First, however, some backstory. In the United States, the era of modern park-building began with Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s winning “Greensward” scheme for New York’s Central Park design competition in 1857. The concept behind the picturesque landscaping they proposed was that it serve as a foil to the dense blocks of buildings surrounding it. Activities were permitted, based on their visual…

Desert Decadent

Sunnylands was the Southern California winter home of the late Walter and Leonore Annenberg — wealthy Philadelphia socialites who, during the latter half of the 20th century, became legendary for their philanthropy, patronage of the arts, and commitment to politics. The couple donated vast quantities of their media fortune to education, including $50 million to the United Negro College Fund, and gifted a $1 billion collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They also held civil service posts (Walter was ambassador to Great Britain under Richard Nixon, and Leonore was the State Department’s chief of…

Waller Creek’s Creek Show

On the heels of the Waller Creek Pop-up Adventure Picnic, when the typically deserted Palm Park hosted five hundred Austinites with an evening of food and live music, there may soon be several other reasons to visit Waller Creek before its upcoming metamorphosis from derelict and forgotten waterway into a vibrant downtown destination. If funding prevails, Creek Show, a series of temporary installations, will appear along the 1.5-mile Waller Creek site in an attempt to surprise and delight the community while also creating awareness about the importance of Waller Creek’s transformation for Austin’s connectivity. “Illumination is the theme,” says Ingrid…

VIDEO: Society’s Craig Reynolds Talks Contemporary Dallas Architecture

The interview with Craig Reynolds, FAIA, featured three of the 13 projects selected by the Society as the must-see examples of contemporary Texas architecture. To see all the buildings selected, view the gallery above, or visit the Architizer website. 

Coy Talley on the Landscape Architecture of the Perot Museum

Can you talk a little bit about Talley’s collaboration with Morphosis? Talley Associates was one of twelve firms across the country invited to submit their qualifications. After a short list and interview process, we were selected by the design team and museum. In the early months of the project, we travelled to Santa Monica about 10 or 12 times to establish a dialogue with Thom and the rest of the Morphosis team. Initial visits included introductions and general conversations about Texas: its people, climate, and cities, as well as the character of the state and its landscape quality. We would…