Houston, TX has illustrated a commitment to Placemaking as a core strategy for creating a more livable downtown, bringing in PPS to work on major destinations such as Discovery Green, Market Square, and Emancipation Park. In 2010, PPS and Gunda Corporation were hired by the Upper Kirby Management District (UKMD) to create a fresh, dynamic vision for the Upper Kirby Civic Center Complex. The neighborhood of Upper Kirby is centrally situated in Houston and has steadily attracted more residents and businesses. For a number of years, the UKMD has been working to find an anchor use for the civic center complex that will help make the site a district destination, including unrealized plans for a YMCA and a theater.
Using Levy Park as an anchor, the complex aims to become the heart of the Upper Kirby neighborhood, and a signature public space. Instead of capital intensive investments in new buildings and facilities, PPS took the Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper approach – low-cost but high-impact interventions focused on uses, programs, and amenities that can serve real community needs in both the short and long term. The plan builds upon the site’s existing assets including the community garden, bark park, oak allee, and ball field.
Based on the civic complex vision, a focus on sustainability and environmental issues will create a strong identity for the complex through expanding the existing community garden, relocating the Urban Harvest farmers market to the civic center, and attracting a destination restaurant that will source its food from the garden and market.