The original Levy Park was once home to baseball diamonds, a dog park and picturesque live oak trees. Over time, the park fell into disrepair, suffering from a lack of visibility, access and activation. OJB Landscape Architecture transformed the underutilized space into an amenity-rich 5.9-acre urban park, positioning Levy Park as a ‘must-visit’ destination in Houston.
Site accessibility issues had to be addressed before park renovations could proceed. Through a land swap of building parcels, the new configuration enabled greater park access. The client partnered with a developer to activate the park perimeter with a smart mix of uses that would enhance public programming and amenities, including the thoughtful integration of Class-A office space, restaurants and a residential tower. This public private partnership generates the funds needed to maintain and program the park for the next 99 years.
The park offers both large and intimate scaled spaces to provide something for everyone. The multi-use spaces support a daily roster of free, day and night-time activities, including educational opportunities, concerts, fitness classes, performance series, movie nights and story hours. Levy Park has become an urban oasis: a place people of all ages and backgrounds come to experience community, play, eat, recharge, be inspired and escape the hectic nature of urban life.
Park usage and spatial relationships were thoughtfully considered while designing and coordinating the various spaces. The design was planned around the centrally-located, unique, children’s garden, featuring a rock-climbing wall, a seven-foot-wide slide, playful fountains and a 150-foot-long ADA accessible treehouse that spans across legacy live oaks that were relocated on-site and provide a magnificent canopy.
The small and large dog parks were strategically placed away from the future restaurant and children’s garden, while it was important to place the restaurant and beer garden near the community garden and event lawn. The 43,000 SF event lawn offers flexible seating and plenty of space to set down a blanket for a picnic, participate in physical activity or view a performance in the multi-purpose performance pavilion. An activity lawn on the west side of the park provides an active open green space and is anchored by a miniature golf green and gaming area, where park-goers can play checkers, foosball or ping pong underneath a shade arbor. The park’s reading room provides a more passive park experience for those visitors who are seeking a quiet moment.
OJB recognized the importance of connectivity and accessibility from the park’s edges to the interior spaces, which was paramount to the park’s redesign. The streetscape was renovated to provide an inviting environment and strengthen pedestrian and vehicular connectivity to the park, while the promenade, lined with trees, food trucks, game carts and moveable furniture, circles the park and was designed to create synergy and connections among the various spaces.
The redesign incorporates sustainable elements into the park’s design, including a rain garden and community garden, which are both attractive on-site amenities and harvest and reuse stormwater. The park also features 3.3 acres of permeable surface, and drought-tolerant and pest-resistant plantings were selected, as were locally-sourced pavers.
The redevelopment of Levy Park has spurred neighborhood growth and development, attracting residents and businesses and providing them with a landmark public space that contributes to the revitalization and quality of life in the area. Since the park’s re-opening, attendance has catapulted from pre-renovation numbers of 75 visitors per week to ranges between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors per week.
Project location : 3801 Eastside St, Houston, TX 7709
Year Built: 2017