Located in the downtown Theater District, Sesquicentennial Park was conceived to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Houston. Funded through a private-public partnership, the international competition winning design for this $19 million, 10.4-acre urban park on the banks of Buffalo Bayou was implemented in three phases from 1986 through 1999.
Sesquicentennial Park was the first significant project to celebrate Buffalo Bayou, serving as an impetus for a quarter of a century of major recreational development of Houston’s preeminent water feature. The design reestablishes the natural environment destroyed by a series of flood-control projects. A pavilion, lookouts, fountains and boat docks complement the native plant materials. Interpretive features and public art are located along the promenade and serve as landmarks for the park. A grassy common functions as an amphitheater for special events. All parts of the park withstand the natural flooding processes, where water levels can vary by more than 20 feet.
The George H.W. Bush Monument was added in 2004 to the highest point in the park, overlooking the city. A monument to his Secretary of State, James A. Baker, III and the Baker family was included in 2010. Sttatues of the two old friends from Houston face each other across the bayou.
Awards include the International Waterfront Center’s Excellence on the Waterfront Award, the American Planning Association’s Highest Honor for Enhancing Public Spaces, the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Classic Award, and the Texas Downtown Association’s President’s Award, among others. Art in the park includes works by Chas Fagan, Mel Chin, Dean Rusk and Weili(Willy) Wang.
Lauren Griffith collaborated with Team HOU on the competition entry and initial phases and served as Landscape Architect for all phases of the project from 1986 - 2010. Ray + Hollington Architects was the lead consultant on Phase 2B, with Guy Hagstette, AIA, continuing to serve as design architect. Gensler was the architect for both monument projects.
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