The bar has been raised for Houston’s green spaces in Houston. Discovery Green, Buffalo Bayou Parks and Memorial Park have all been expanded or improved. Now Hermann Park will soon reveal a $52 million project that includes an innovative play area.
Behind a tall fence that runs along Fannin and Cambridge streets, dozens of workers, earth-moving machines and even horticulturists are working on the newest improvement to one of Houston’s marquee parks: the 26-acre Hermann Commons at Hermann Park.
Work has been underway for a year now, and portions of the project are taking shape, as 12-foot concrete sidewalks have been poured and trees and plants have been put in place at the Fannin entrance across from the Memorial Hermann Professional Building.
When the project finishes early next year, Hermann Park will have, hands-down, the coolest new children’s play park in metropolitan Houston, expanded family picnic areas and more shady places to just sit and soak up nature.
This $52 million project wasn’t launched with proceeds from a mega-donor, but instead with a broad base of support from hundreds of Houstonians. The largest gift was just $5 million, from longtime zoo and park supporter Kathrine G. McGovern, the wife of the late John P. McGovern, after whom the park’s Children’s Zoo is named.
Hermann Park Conservancy president Doreen Stoller said the organization is still working to raise the last $1.7 million.
Some $4 million of the project will go to a dog park that should be finished by the end of summer.
The rest of the money is going to the 26-acre Hermann Commons, which will add shady rest areas, picnic pavilions, a carousel and innovation play areas. Parents may wish they could be kids again.
The park’s big new ideas and stunning designs are the work of two award-winning design firms, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Marlon Blackwell Architects, who received the AIA Gold Medal not long after accepting the park project commission. As landscape architects, MVVA is handling the bulk of the work, including play areas, while Blackwell and his firm designed the major structures: picnic pavilions that almost look space …
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