A highly anticipated addition to Houston’s park system has taken a big first step. Hermann Park Conservancy and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department have officially broken ground on the Commons, the new, 26-acre Hermann Park multi-use space.
The Commons is bordered by the Texas Medical Center, Houston Zoo, Rice University, and the Museum District and sits in the park’s southwest — on the corner of Fannin and Cambridge Streets — and will serve as a much-needed connector for those bustling destinations.
This game-changing hub will include multiple play areas for children, a central lawn, new grilling and picnic areas, and more, per a release. Plans call for several new pavilions and a carousel, designed by American Institute of Architecture award winner Marlon Blackwell.
Construction on the Commons is expected to launch this month and be completed in January 2024, a press release notes.
Families — especially those visiting the zoo — will no doubt delight in the Play Gardens, an almost three-acre playground that will reimagine the Buddy Carruth Playground for All Children.
Key features of the multi-sensory Play Gardens experience include a 45-foot rocket ship slide and space capsule in the “Space Adventure” area; a classic carousel with a modern twist; and “The Bayou,” which will offer an interactive look at Houston’s natural water features.
More greenspace comes via the Welcome Garden, located across the street from Memorial Hermann Hospital. The six-acre garden will blossom with native plantings and 100-year-old live oaks at the decked Live Oak Terrace.
Meanwhile, the historic Fannin Pavilion will get a facelift with more natural light, food stations, and custom wooden tables and benches.
A larger Central Lawn will offer a spot to relax or play sports; two new shade pavilions offer respite from the Houston sun. Visitors can camp out at picnic tables, barbeque at the grills, or stroll along McGovern Lake and rest in one of the new boulder coves and watch the ducks.
This grand plan also includes a push for large-scale habitat restoration, which means the addition of thousands of new trees and plants that are expected to create habitats for the more than 600 species of birds that voyage through Houston each year. Eco-friendly planting includes regenerative agriculture, where seven acres of crops will be instilled in rotations to restore the park’s soil — a move away from artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
Funding for this new project started in 2019 via the $51 million Play Your Park campaign; currently 73 percent of funding has been secured, a release adds.
“Hermann Park is already a special place,” said Kenneth Allen, director, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, in a statement, “but the addition of amenities for all age groups, natural water features, and a 45-foot rocket ship will take this park to a new level. I applaud the talented team effort working to make this project a reality. There’s no question in my mind that this project is going to be a hit with every visitor to Hermann Park.”
More information on the Commons can be found here.