The Eastern Glades is the first major project completed in Houston’s Memorial Park from a master plan the landscape architect developed in 2015. At the park’s eastern edge, the Eastern Glades reclaims 100 acres for people to enjoy on what previously had been inaccessible land. A new formal entrance opens the way to miles of recreational trails and to an established lake and the thriving ecological zone around it. The Master Plan’s vision comes alive in restoring and reconnecting the natural environment to support ecological health and resiliency, not least for the people of Houston, who have in the Eastern Glades a beautiful new series of free, open spaces in their city park.  

At Memorial Park in Houston, Memorial Park Conservancy, with the landscape architect and a team of restoration specialists, sought a strong, regenerative future for the park’s ecologically depressed Eastern Glades section. Together they pursued a richly layered reclamation of this 100-acre expanse, which had been inaccessible to visitors, degraded over time by extreme climatic stresses, and in decline caused by increasing ecological imbalances. The long-orphaned landscape holds remnants of Camp Logan, a World War I-era military training facility, a past brought back to view in a thorough restructuring that also opens a major new urban gateway to the park, creates a system of adaptive natural stormwater infrastructure, and sets a foundation for richer ecologies over time.

Memorial Park’s new formal entrance, at Blossom Street, welcomes visitors into a large pedestrian plaza, where the site’s obscured history becomes immediately apparent. Stone pillars on the plaza mark the original entrance to Camp Logan. Around the gateway, native plantings set against a forested background complete a ceremonial threshold that invites everyone to come in and explore the park.  

At the center of the Glades, a 9-acre oval of open lawns and native plantings makes a tribute to the park’s original 1930s plan, encircled by a pedestrian promenade. Within this generous pleasure ground, people can picnic, play, or simply relax on turf lawns punctuated by trees and pockets of native grasses. 

To the west of the lawn, Hines Lake spreads out like a shimmering mirror. The lake, along with surrounding wetlands, was designed as soft-infrastructure engineered to ease floods by capturing stormwater for eventual reuse in the park. A system of bioswales collects and filters rainwater that flows to the lake, supporting a healthier aquatic habitat for turtles, fish, frogs, and water birds—and, of course, giving people a watery living theater of calm and natural beauty to wander about unhurried. Around the lake are terraces and pathways where people can observe nature peacefully along the water’s edge. The lake’s East Terrace provides a wide, elegant overlook along the pedestrian promenade, with seating situated on a lower level near the water. Directly across the water, the West Terrace nestles into the curving lakeshore, where bench seating faces onto grand views amid peaceful seclusion. A boardwalk meanders along this hushed side of the lake, where a visitor can watch the busy community of dragonflies, red-eared turtles, green tree frogs, least grebes, and black-bellied whistling ducks, among other wildlife at home in this city hideaway.

Another boardwalk through the forested wetlands runs in angles—a form inspired by trees felled randomly by drought. This path offers close-up views of the wetlands’ complex web of life, the dynamics of which visitors can learn from interpretive signage along the way. This wet woodland is one of Memorial Park’s best spots for bird-watching, a home to white egrets, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, and yellow-crowned night herons, and there is seating along the boardwalk for people who wish to wait patiently and watch the urban wilderness in action.

Elsewhere, groups of visitors to the park have new places to gather in shade. At the promenade’s southern end are two pavilions and nearby picnic areas. The design of these pavilions and two new rest stations recalls the architecture of Camp Logan.

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: Lauren Griffith Associates

Architecture offices involved in the design: English + Associates Architects

Location: 7575 North Picnic Loop, Houston TX 77007 USA

Design year: 2013

Year Completed: 2020



LILA 2024 Sponsor