Not long after Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Park was named a finalist in a major design award, the buzzing downtown Discovery Green has been designated a Great Public Space by the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA).
The Great Places in Texas program, which named Discovery Green to the honor on Monday, April 1, showcases areas that “exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value,” according to a statement. Discovery Green joins five other outstanding public spaces in Texas.
“Discovery Green has redefined the landscape of Downtown Houston — and serves as a global example of how to activate an urban downtown,” said Doug McDonald, AICP, APA-Texas chapter president, in a statement. “The before-and-after transformation of Discovery Green is inspirational, and the active programming, integration of arts, and unique design of the 12-acre park has helped established itself as the heartbeat of Houston.”
What makes a public space stand out? The Great Places in Texas program recognizes three essential components: streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces. These places “offer better choices for where and how people work and live every day, places that are enjoyable, safe, and desirable,” per a statement. They are also defined by characteristics including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement.
This is the third year of the statewide program, which is modeled from the American Planning Association’s ongoing Great Places in America program.
Representatives from the Discovery Green Conservancy and City of Houston will be in Austin on April 1 to accept the award as part of the American Planning Association — Texas Chapter’s Planners’ Day at the State Capitol. The park will be recognized in both the House and Senate Chambers, and representatives will be meeting with Senator Borris Miles and Representative Garnet Coleman, who represent Houston’s Discovery Green.
The five other Great Places in Texas designees for 2019 are:
- Downtown Bastrop — Bastrop
- Downtown Nacogdoches — Nacogdoches
- Levitt Pavilion — Arlington
- San Jacinto Plaza — El Paso
- Hill Country Mile — Boerne