The vision for the Houston Central Library Plaza is to integrate it physically into the downtown and to link it to other public spaces while ensuring that City Hall Park and Library Plaza are well-coordinated and can accommodate diverse community activities and gatherings. The Library is enthusiastic about making the Plaza a center of activity for the downtown and enhancing the role that the Library can play in the future of Houston.
The placemaking process aimed to solicit substantive community feedback as to how the library plaza could provide the most public benefit. The process consisted of a number of meetings and workshops with local stakeholders including various community groups, local advocates, and city and county officials and Library staff. Focus groups were held with various stakeholders broken down by the issue areas in which they work (e.g. arts, city administration, education, property owners, etc.). Public workshops were conducted to evaluate the site using the Place Evaluation Exercise and also to share preliminary designs with the community. Working meetings were convened with both the project team as well as key local stakeholders in order to further refine the Concept Plan for the Plaza.
Based on the stakeholder and public input PPS created a concept plan defining a series of active destinations within the plaza that are thoroughly integrated into library uses as well as with the downtown. The plan includes short term strategies to test public interest and identify which activities would attract the most people to the plaza. Some of these strategies were implemented in the summer of 2014 as the library programming team experimented with an intense schedule of events. The library development team is building on PPS's long-term recommendations and developing a capital improvement plan to generate well-managed, flexible places that will be a community asset to all Houstonians – residents, visitors, and library patrons alike.