Discovery Green Park

Rendering of Discovery Green Park.

Location: 1500 McKinney St Houston, TX 77010
Website: discoverygreen.com
Description: Discovery Green is a 12-acre park created in 2004 by a public-private partnership between the City of Houston and the non-profit Discovery Green Conservancy. According to its website, the Discovery Green “was conceived not only as a public park, but as a landmark to attract convention revenue to the City, and as an anchor for downtown development.” The onsite facilities have been certified LEED Gold by the USGBC.
Notes:
Two large parking lots, divided by a narrow green space known as the Houston Center Gardens, were originally situated on the property.
Philanthropists led by The Brown Foundation and the Kinder Foundation led the initial appeal for an urban park to be created on the land.
Mayor Bill White approved the project, advocating for a public-private partnership.
PageSoutherlandPage managed the LEED certification process for the park.
The park aims to be a living “green” education & awareness space.
Achieved Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL) certification from the American Wildlife Council for the establishment and documentation of site-based education programs through providing exemplary conservation education experiences for the community.
Has numerous energy efficiency measures, including solar arrays on each of the main park buildings, the Alkek Building and The Lake House.
20% of the materials used came from regional sources, and more than 60% of the Ipe wood used to construct the park came from sustainably-harvested forests.
Conclusion: Simply stated, Discovery Green Park is a beautiful public space in the heart of downtown Houston. Having had the opportunity to visit the park in the afternoon and at night, I can attest to its vibrant attraction to the local community. My concern, however, is that the park may have taken the concept of “urban oasis” a bit too far, as I found the numerous decorative/play fountains, misting stations, and ice-skating rink to be somewhat excessive—perhaps even wasteful. The concept and existence of the park is decidedly a good thing, but it does raise interesting questions about the malleability (or over-flexibility) of LEED’s point system.

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