landscape architecture · urbanism · planning

Heart of the Park, Hermann Park, Houston, Texas


Serving six million people annually, Hermann Park is Houston’s flagship park and the Heart of the Park is its center. The project resulted from a winning international design competition entry and continued over a 13-year design and construction process. The Heart of the Park realized the 1919 George Kessler master plan, which envisioned the space as a civic focal point for the park and the city. A 740-foot long reflection pool defines the park’s primary axis and is flanked by sloping lawns, Live Oak allées, and at the midpoint, intimate gardens. Gracious paths and plazas create spaces for informal play, picnicking and events, as well as pedestrian, bike and park service vehicle connectivity within the space and to adjacent park destinations, light rail, streets, neighborhoods, museums and Rice University. The “Arbor in the Pines”, a small architectural intervention, houses required mechanical systems while creating a gathering place for people. Together, these moves weave the Park’s considerable existing resources into one dynamic public space used and enjoyed by park visitors year round.

Awards: ASLA Excellence Award, 2005

Slaney Santana Group and SWA Group, Scott Slaney, FASLA, Design Principal, Principal-in-Charge

Prime Consultant, Conceptual Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Permitting, Cost Estimation, Bidding and Negotiation, Construction Observation

Consultants / Collaborators:
Milton Henry AIA, Peter Brown AIA, Steve Hardin Design – Competition Collaborators, Olin Partnership – Park Master Plan and Schematic Design Collaborators, W. O. Neuhaus and Associates – Architects, Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Geotechnical Engineers, Waterscape Consultants – Hydrology and Water Feature Engineering, Irrigation Design, Lighting Design, Environmental Signage, Artists, Arborists

Client: Hermann Park Conservancy

City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, City of Houston Department of Public Works, Friends of Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theater, Japanese Garden, Houston Zoo, Museum of Natural Science, City of Houston Arts Commission, City of Houston Archeological and Historic Commission, Hermann Park User Groups, Houston Endowment, Smith Family, Donor Organizations and Individuals

Date Complete: 2005

Area: 18.5 acres (7.5 hectares)

Historic Tree Preservation and Rescue, Public Transit Connectivity, Storm Water Management, Biofiltration, Cultural Preservation, Permeable Surfaces, Water Conservation through Native / Naturalized Plant Materials, Public Transportation Connectivity, Walking, Biking Connectivity