a day for the park

Upper Kirby park blooms as finalist in coveted global design competition

Upper Kirby park blooms as finalist in global design competition

Levy Park Houston oak tree park child
The popular Upper Kirby park sees nearly 7,000 visitors per week.  Photo by Midway Companies

Once known as a hyper-local, secret refuge in the bustling Upper Kirby corridor, Levy Park has evolved into a popular Inner Loop destination thanks to its lively dog park, community events, farmers market, and public gardens. Now, with a recent honor, the green space getaway may see its profile bloom — even to a national level.

The Urban Land Institute has announced that Levy Park is one of five finalists for the prestigious 2018 ULI Urban Open Space Award, a worldwide competition. The annual award recognizes “outstanding examples of successful large-and small-scale public spaces that have socially enriched and revitalized the economy of their surrounding communities,” according to a statement. The winner will be announced at the 2018 ULI Fall Meeting, to be held October 8–11 in Boston.

That Levy Park has been recognized for its excellence in urban planning would be hardly surprising to any of its estimated 7,000 weekly visitors. The center has become a favorite for families who flock to the children’s park, which offers interactive sculptures, fountains, and a 150-foot-long tree house nestled among massive live oaks. The park has been lauded for fostering a sense of community through performances, workshops, movie nights, and exercise programs. Praise also flows for its gardens, which harness harvest and reuse stormwater.

Levy Park’s redesign was led by OJB Landscape Architecture — which bodes well for the upcoming competition. Levy Park marks the third OJB-designed park to be recognized by the ULI; OJB has previously won design awards for spaces in Dallas and Oklahoma City.

“We are honored to have Levy Park considered as a finalist for this prestigious award along with the other exceptional finalists,” said OJB’s managing principal, Chip Trageser, in a statement. “Levy Park has become a well-loved destination for Houstonians and a must-see open space for visitors. The park offers a series of unique play and entertainment spaces featuring mature 40-foot live oaks within the beautiful 6-acre urban site, truly offering something for everyone.”