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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2011, 4:07 PM
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How Cities in Texas are Turning Planning Upside Down

Houston is North America’s Placemaking Capital





Read More: http://www.pps.org/articles/houston-...aking-capital/

Quote:
Despite Houston’s enduring image as a downtown office park where every project strives to be bigger and glitzier than anything that came before, the city is now focusing on creating lively new public spaces. This important shift is occurring in other Texas cities too, infusing downtowns and neighborhoods with a new sense of vibrancy and, most surprising of all, doing it by working at a smaller, human scale. Houston has become a hot-spot by turning its planning process for public spaces upside down. Instead of using a project oriented and design-led approach, it is using a bottom up Placemaking approach.

- The vision for a public place is now defined by stakeholders in the community with leaders and professionals helping to implement this vision. This approach is already paying off—downtown Houston is thriving from hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment and never before have so many come downtown to enjoy the new amenities. We’re not the only ones to take notice of what’s going on in Houston. Recently Fast Company named Houston its “City of the Year”, citing Discovery Green as “a symbol of the new Houston.” Cities all around Texas (and soon, we hope, the country) are finding ways to follow suit.

- Discovery Green opened in the spring of 2008 and soon became a magnet destination. It is estimated that more than 2.3 million people have now visited this unique public space and that the park has catalyzed nearly $1 billion dollars in nearby development, showing how Placemaking pays off. A number of residential and commercial projects have specifically noted Discovery Green as the impetus for their investment. For details, check out PPS’ new economic impact case study of Discovery Green which includes detailed visitor data and information on public private partnerships.

- PPS calculates, based on decades of experience, that 80 percent of the success of any public space is due to how it is managed. Market Square Park, in the center of downtown Houston’s Historic District, re-opened in August of 2010 after many years of disuse and a great deal of debate about what should be done to revive this public space. Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District), also involved in Discovery Green, worked with PPS to facilitate a Placemaking process to develop new ideas for the place. The Downtown District then guided the translation of the stakeholders’ vision into a design and management plan for the square.

.....



Discovery Green has not only become a popular place for locals but has also spurred numerous downtown development projects. Flickr photo by kalebdf.











The management plan for Market Square Park ensures that there are many opportunities for people to sit and eat.






The central open space has now become the “town square” and main gathering place at the Baker Ripley Community Center. Flickr photo via Neighborhood Centers.






The Upper Kirby Civic Center Complex will have a variety of destinations within it including a café, a community garden and farmers market which will furnish some of the food for a new café, play area, performance space and more.






Change in Corpus Christi is coming from the citizens who have organized themselves to turn their waterfront around.






One of the many submissions to PPS’ Digital PlaceMap for San Antonio came from Meredith in Vance Jackson who included this image of the shade structures in downtown's Main Plaza as an example of the kind of shade she’d like to see more of in her city. Flickr photo via arellis49.






Dallas - One lane of traffic was removed and a “pop-up” plaza was created with temporary seating, potted trees, and a food truck where people come to eat, meet and socialize. Photo via Go Oak Cliff.

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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2011, 5:15 PM
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Since I live here, I think it's ok for me to comment.

Houston was already "pretty good" at building parks, but what the city struggled with was the idea of public, shared spaces. Obviously it's a mega-sprawl metro, so most people have their own yard. There's "less of a need" for shared public space in Mc-Mansion burbs.

Or at least that was the conventional wisdom. But now I think people are understanding that these parks actually tie people together through social interaction, and that is more important than just hoarding your own personal spec of grass. People go to the world's great parks and squares to interact... to meet people, people-watch, and just enjoy the day without feeling so lonely. Houston has caught onto that with lightning intensity, and I'm very glad to see it.

Now if we could only do something about the damned heat :-P
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  #3  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2011, 7:28 PM
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http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Progr...126292083.html

Progress Report on the Woodall Rogers Deck Park (Dallas)
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  #4  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2011, 8:53 PM
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The new(ish) Main Plaza is amazing. The shade structures were only added recently because the old shade trees died.
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  #5  
Old Posted Aug 13, 2011, 2:55 PM
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So, a positive article about Texas cities and their success in planning public spaces and NO COMMENTS???

I guess it just doesn't fit the bash "the sprawling sunbelt cities" M.O.
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  #6  
Old Posted Aug 13, 2011, 7:18 PM
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I read it when first posted. Looks like some great spaces. The trees are crucial of course.

As for "the placemaking capital of NA", it would seem more accurate to say "Houston is making strides in providing a sense of place". The superlative can't be pinned on Houston's boosterism, but it can probably be pinned on PPS's self-congratulation.

In nearly every post about Houston, I say I'm impressed with the direction it's going. But I keep seeing these "best", "biggest", "most" claims. I find these annoying and generally based on spin, and/or used to make questionable larger claims.

In the 1990s I did a fair amount of research about city park systems, working for a Seattle group that wanted to build the "Seattle Commons" alongside Downtown. This involved a lot of phone calls to city park departments, planners, etc., often followed up by them sending reports by mail. One thing that struck me was the commonness of "biggest" claims. Some didn't know what they were talking about, while others probably did know, but gerrymandered their wording to make misleading claims.

Back to trees...I wish my city would learn this lesson. When it's over 70, people here huddle in whatever shade is provided, and new parks are often severely lacking in this.
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Old Posted Aug 13, 2011, 10:18 PM
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^I agree with everything you posted mhays...until you started complaining about a lack of trees in Seattle...
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  #8  
Old Posted Aug 14, 2011, 1:56 AM
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I believe he's referring to city streets lined with enough trees to give off a tree canopy effect. In which case, he's correct; Seattle doesn't have a whole lot of that.
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Old Posted Aug 14, 2011, 2:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
I read it when first posted. Looks like some great spaces. The trees are crucial of course.

As for "the placemaking capital of NA", it would seem more accurate to say "Houston is making strides in providing a sense of place". The superlative can't be pinned on Houston's boosterism, but it can probably be pinned on PPS's self-congratulation.

In nearly every post about Houston, I say I'm impressed with the direction it's going. But I keep seeing these "best", "biggest", "most" claims. I find these annoying and generally based on spin, and/or used to make questionable larger claims.

In the 1990s I did a fair amount of research about city park systems, working for a Seattle group that wanted to build the "Seattle Commons" alongside Downtown. This involved a lot of phone calls to city park departments, planners, etc., often followed up by them sending reports by mail. One thing that struck me was the commonness of "biggest" claims. Some didn't know what they were talking about, while others probably did know, but gerrymandered their wording to make misleading claims.

Back to trees...I wish my city would learn this lesson. When it's over 70, people here huddle in whatever shade is provided, and new parks are often severely lacking in this.
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Old Posted Aug 14, 2011, 5:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Zombie® View Post
^
I believe he's referring to city streets lined with enough trees to give off a tree canopy effect. In which case, he's correct; Seattle doesn't have a whole lot of that.
This is something that absolutely drives me batty where I live. Whenever they decide to redo streetscapes in my city, they either cut down the existing trees, and only add a few back, or they don't add any back, at all. I understand the added expense, but there should be some kind of bylaw that all existing vegetation must be replaced if they are going to remove it.
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Old Posted Aug 14, 2011, 5:43 AM
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Seattle has historically been lackadaisical(sp?) about trees. We think we're a green city so we haven't bothered to plant much. This has changed in recent years. But as Urban Zombie says, we're really lacking in trees along most streets.
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2011, 6:03 AM
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Hopefully, Houston will be much more aggressive in making these improvements what with such a huge population.
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2011, 6:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMich View Post
This is something that absolutely drives me batty where I live. Whenever they decide to redo streetscapes in my city, they either cut down the existing trees, and only add a few back, or they don't add any back, at all. I understand the added expense, but there should be some kind of bylaw that all existing vegetation must be replaced if they are going to remove it.
Austin requires a permit for the removal or impact to any tree that is 60 inches in circumference or 19 inches in diameter. Trees are measured at a standard 4.5 feet off the ground. The City also requires large trees to be included in site plans of any project that is being developed. The City also has a requirement that says whatever size tree(s) are replaced, that the diameter size be replaced.

http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/trees/default.htm
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2011, 7:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Columbusite View Post
Hopefully, Houston will be much more aggressive in making these improvements what with such a huge population.
As I said in an earlier post, Houston already does well with parks. The city has great parks, IMO, and I feel I can say that having been to major parks in cities like Chicago, San Diego, London and Paris. The major parks in Houston stack up pretty well.

But parks are like icing on the cake. We NEED to put some money into our sidewalks, bike lanes (though those are getting better), and basic infrastructure. That's where the real problem lies. Houston has neglected its sidewalks for far too long... always putting it on the backs of business owners and homeowners to fix when that is very well a responsibility of the city.
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