About the Project

OVERVIEW

Transformation of Buffalo Bayou Park, one of Houston’s most iconic spaces, is underway.

Likened to Houston’s own Central Park, the ambitious $58 million project will include:

  • restoration of natural landscapes, including trees and native grasses
  • new and upgraded trails for walkers and hikers to enjoy nature and the bayou
  • two pedestrian bridges—one near Jackson Hill Street and one at the Police Memorial
  • extension of the distinctive blue lunar cycle lighting
  • destination features including The Water Works adjacent to the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, Lost Lake near Dunlavy and Allen Parkway, a dog park near  Allen Parkway, and enhancements to a portion of Eleanor Tinsley Park
  • additional benches, picnic spots and drinking fountains

See the Buffalo Bayou Park – Shepherd to Sabine Master Plan.

TRAILS

The City of Houston and TxDOT have rebuilt the 5-mile Sandy Reed Memorial trail.

Ten-foot wide concrete trails, on both sides of the bayou are complete and allow cyclists and joggers to share these multi-use trails. To accommodate trail users who want to enjoy a leisurely walk, Buffalo Bayou Partnership is building 5-foot wide asphalt footpaths that will be located closer to the bayou banks. New drinking fountains and benches will be conveniently located along the trails, and park users will have access to other amenities, including restrooms and a bike rental facility. See the Buffalo Bayou Trail Guide.

BRIDGES

Pedestrian bridges have been constructed at the Police Memorial and at Jackson Hill to provide greater accessibility to Buffalo Bayou Park.

A 345-foot long pedestrian bridge near Jackson Hill Street was complete in late winter 2013 and soars a dramatic 40 feet above the bayou and connects with the existing bridge over Memorial Drive, providing access to Allen Parkway. A second pedestrian bridge at the Police Memorial was completed in early 2014 and allows park users, for the first time, to access the Police Memorial from other areas of the park. The Carruth Foundation donated $1 million for this naming opportunity. Both bridges will be similar in aesthetic to the Hobby Center Bridge and complement TxDOT’s Shepherd Bridge and the Rosemont Bridge. Smaller footbridges over several ravines and outfall tributaries are also located in the park.

CHANNEL RESTORATION

The Harris County Flood Control District restores the bayou’s channel conveyance capacity and banks along Buffalo Bayou Park.

Working in seven phases (between Shepherd Drive and Sabine Street), the $5 million project includes removing silt and re-grading the bayou’s slopes to reduce erosion. Gentle slopes will be created on the inside bends of the bayou and graded that can serve as launch areas for canoes and kayaks. Invasive vegetation species will be cleared to allow for the removal of sediment and promote a healthier native ecosystem. The project will enhance the bayou’s ability to maintain itself naturally while preserving existing high quality trees and reintroducing native trees and vegetation.

LANDSCAPING

Working in conjunction with the site’s topography and predicated on a strong maintenance plan, landscaping of the park’s entire 160 acres will restore diversity and balance to the terrain.

Under the leadership of SWA Group and Boston’s Reed Hilderbrand, and through a partnership with Katy Prairie Conservancy, Buffalo Bayou Buffalo Bayou Partnership will reintroduce native landscapes to restore diversity to the park’s riparian edge and in wetlands, rambles, woodlands, meadows, lawns and special perennial gardens. Approximately 50 percent of the landscape will be replaced with meadows to improve the habitat and reduce overall maintenance costs. The improvements to riparian corridors and wetland gardens will help control erosion while rambles will be restored for the more adventurous walker. The park’s topography will be emphasized by creating overlooks, as well as enhanced ravines and outfalls. At the most dramatic vista points, shelters will provide shade and seating. Improvements to riparian corridors and wetland gardens will help control erosion while rambles will be restored for the more adventurous walker. Shaded woodland areas will open up to “outdoor rooms” creating a rhythm of shade and light, cool and warm, quiet and more active spaces. Meadows will be beautified with wildflowers and native grasses, and a limited number of high-profile gardens composed of native perennials will accent key park destinations. Read about Lost Lake and the Wortham Fountain Area and learn more about our partnership with the Katy Prairie Conservancy.

Major Destinations

  • Major Destinations

    Significant enhancements will be made to Eleanor Tinsley Park, Wortham Fountain and the “unofficial” dog park. Two new destinations—The Water Works and Lost Lake—will anchor the east and west ends of the park.

  • The Water Works

    The Water Works will be the park’s major gateway.

    To be the official “gateway” to Buffalo Bayou Park once it opens in mid-2015, this 4.5-acre site is elevated above a historic City of Houston reservoir. Visitors can expect an information center, bike rental facility, food truck vendors, restrooms and parking. An elevated skylawn and pavilion will offer stunning views of Houston’s skyline. This space will be available for rent (accommodating up to 3,000 people) for weddings or private events, concerts, and performances.

  • Nature Playground

    Located along the slopes near The Water Works, an accessible children’s play environment will be designed around natural features.

    Set to open in mid-2015 near the Water Works and the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, the Nature Playground will be one of the park’s most popular destinations. Designed to  inspire a love of nature within children, features of the play area include: a boulder rock scramble, a rolling lawn, a stream and waterfall, climbing logs and stones, and 33-foot slide. The most compelling component will be a tri-level tree house/boat deck with climbing net. Parents will have easy access to parking, restrooms, park staff and the option of renting the play area’s picnic pavilion for special events and birthday parties. Thanks to the Ray C. Fish Foundation for its generous $1 million grant for this play area.

  • Eleanor Tinsley Park

    Already well-known for its skyline views and large community events, plans for this park area enhance its natural setting and reduce the clutter that detracts from its beauty.

    Named in honor of the late City Councilmember and civic activist, Eleanor Tinsley, the park is home to the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration and other large-scale festivals and events. Thanks to a $2 million donation from Houston-based Silver Eagle Distributors, a signature lawn, open-air pavilion and a trail with a direct connection to Sabine Promenade for cyclists, joggers and event attendees were added in 2014. Additionally, the park received upgraded landscaping, redesigned parking spaces and an improved garden area. Other points of interest: Nau Family Pavilion, Bud Light Amphitheater (a temporary stage in place during events) and Jane Gregory Garden.

  • Johnny Steele Dog Park

    Perhaps one of the park’s most active destinations is the dog park, located near Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard.

    Scheduled to open in January 2015 at Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard/Studemont, the two-acre open meadow Johnny Steele Dog Park will be a popular destination for pets and their owners. Features include fenced-off large and small dog ponds, dog washing areas and shade structures. Limited parking will be available along the frontage road of Allen Parkway. **NOTE: the dog park will close temporarily in April 2015 to reseed and prepare the grass for the warmer summer months. Signage will be posted and reminders sent through social media.

    Dog Park Rules & Regulations

    The park will be open daily from 9:00 am – 8:00 pm. Take note of the dog park rules:

    • Please pick up after your dog. Bag and trash receptacles are readily available.
    • Dogs must wear current license and vaccination tags.
    • Owners must remain with your dog; prevent reckless play or fighting.
    • Limit visits to one hour for each dog, particularly at high-traffic times.
    • The small dog pond is for dogs smaller than 15 inches and the large dog pond is for dogs larger than 15 inches.
    • Spiked collars are not allowed.
    • Dogs in heat are not allowed.
    • Puppies under four months are not allowed.

    Also, note that the City of Houston leash law is in effect outside of the dog park.

  • Wortham Fountain Area

    The area between Waugh Bridge and Studemont Bridge is defined by the Wortham “Dandelion Fountain.”

    While the fountain itself will not be touched, its setting will be greatly enhanced. The garden area will extend toward the bayou from the fountain’s new seating area, which will feature a triple row of Mexican sycamore arranged in a semi-circle. The garden will offer a path of mowed grass, seat walls and shade structures set in a woodland garden of shade trees, native flowering trees and hardy native perennials. Inspired by the project, the Wortham Foundation and River Oaks Garden Club gifted Buffalo Bayou Partnership with generous gifts of $5 million and $100,000, respectively.

  • Lost Lake

    At the western end of the park will be Lost Lake, a site where a pond that was lost in the 1970s will be restored.

    Scheduled to open in Spring 2015 near Allen Parkway and Dunlavy, Lost Lake will feature wetland gardens surrounding a restored pond situated near a small visitor center and a canoe and kayak facility operated by Buffalo Bayou Partnership. Restrooms and a paddlecraft launch will also be available. Inspired by the project and the vision for Lost Lake, The Garden Club of Houston awarded Buffalo Bayou Partnership a record-setting gift of $250,000 for this garden area. This is also the location of The Dunlavy, the multi-purpose private event space under the development of Clark Cooper Concepts. Grab and Go @ The Dunlavy will provide counter service breakfast and lunch seven days a week. Patio chairs and complimentary Wi-Fi will be available. Approximately 81 new parking spaces will be available at Lost Lake.

LIGHTING

With the downtown skyline as a backdrop, the lunar lighting cycle environmental art concept, already in place at Sabine Promenade, will become a major focal point extending to Shepherd Drive.

To make the bridges and architecture iconic features at night, the lighting along the major Sandy Reed Memorial Trail, will transition from white, to blue, to white as the moon waxes, wanes, and waxes again. Some footpaths and areas closer to the bayou will remain dark at night while certain special destinations will be lit for nighttime use.

ART

Buffalo Bayou Partnership has commissioned new pieces of art to become focal points for Buffalo Bayou Park.

The artists and pieces were selected by a committee led by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA). These artworks will be installed toward the end of the park’s renovation. Stay tuned for more information as we unveil the names of the artists and their design concepts in the coming months.

Consultants

  • Guy Hagstette Project Management