Transformation of Buffalo Bayou Park, one of Houston’s most iconic spaces, is underway.
See the Buffalo Bayou Park – Shepherd to Sabine Master Plan.
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.
Pedestrian bridges have been constructed at the Police Memorial and at Jackson Hill to provide greater accessibility to Buffalo Bayou Park.
Shepherd Bridge Rosemont Bridge You can cross this unique pedestrian bridge at two levels. Be sure to pause and enjoy the dramatic view of the bayou and downtown skyline. The bridge provides a valuable pedestrian connection to trails and neighborhoods to the north at Studemont Drive, as well as to Spotts and Cleveland Parks to the west. Jackson Hill Bridge Soaring a dramatic 40 feet above the bayou, this 345-foot long pedestrian bridge near Jackson Hill Street connects with the existing bridge over Memorial Drive, providing access to Allen Parkway. Carruth Bridge Complete in early 2014, the Carruth Bridge allows park users to access the Houston Police Memorial from other areas of the park.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Perhaps one of the park’s most active destinations is the dog park, located near Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard.
Perhaps one of Buffalo Bayou Park’s most active destinations will be the Johnny Steele Dog Park, a two acre site located near Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard/Studemont Street. Features include large and small dog ponds, shade structures, water play features, a dog washing station, benches and drinking fountains (complete with spigots for dogs). 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.
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.
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.
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.
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). Tolerance Sculptures At the base of the Rosemont Bridge are Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s Tolerance sculptures. The seven human figures representing the world’s seven continents are composed of stainless steel alphabet letters from many world languages. Resting on large boulders, the figures glow at night, creating a constellation of beacons. Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain Affectionately known as the “Dandelion,” the fountain’s brass starburst of pipes spray joggers, cyclists and dog walkers offering a cool respite from Houston’s heat. The fountain is also a favorite meeting spot for many park users. It Wasn’t a Dream, It was a Flood Serving as a major entry point to the bayou at Crosby Outfall, this 20-foot stainless steel canoe sculpture by John Runnels is supported by two stainless steel trees. It resembles ten other canoe sculptures located at various eastward bayou access points. Spindle Sculpture Located on a prominent knoll is British sculptor Henry Moore’s Spindle piece. The cast bronze abstract sculpture was originally part of the artist’s Spindle series placed in London’s Hyde Park. Passage Inachevé—House Sculpture This 28’ x 28’ piece is constructed of galvanized steel set in a concrete slab. It takes form of a house but is completely open to the elements and viewing from all sides. The seating and visual images reflect issues of human rights, freedom of expression and historic and contemporary concerns. Open Channel Flow Open Channel Flow, a sculpture by New York-based artist Matthew Geller, features a public outdoor shower activated by a hand pump. A nearby skate park ensures that a steady flow of skaters and passersby will indulge in a refreshing spritz on Houston’s infamously humid afternoons.