Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

Archive for the ‘Sidewalk Art’

The Travis St. Bayou Portal

July 04, 2010 By: Tom Davis Category: Recent Posts, Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Features

CIMG1450.JPGThe Travis St. Portal to Buffalo Bayou was built by the Cotswold Project as a pedestrian connection from the street down to a future walkway along the bayou. The winding, tree lined and lighted walkway is on the west side of  the Travis St. bridge on the south side of the bayou across the street from the Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant. (more…)

Interior Decorator’s Sidewalk Art

December 19, 2009 By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Features


By Connie LeFevre, AISD

In the final phase of the Cotswold program, the architect was approached by the local association of interior decorators who wanted to contribute two art elements to the streetscape. The offer was to design, build and install two “chairs” and the paver “stage” inside the concrete ring created by the street contractor. The Chenevert-Commerce intersection in downtown Houston was selected. The street reconstruction design was prepared to show the landscaping–large crepe myrtles visible in the photos–and the “stage” for the two installations.

The chairs are quite different as you can see. I like the tall one made to look like tree limbs. It is about 3-feet square and over 10-feet tall.

The double-seated bench is made of rolled steel floor plate and the legs are 6″ diameter steel pipe.

Both pieces are mounted with bolts into a concrete foundation below the simulated red rug set at the level of the sidewalk pavers.

Both are made of durable steel and add an unusual element to the intersection. I often wonder what people think when they notice them and how often they are noticed. That intersection is a few blocks north of Minute Maid Baseball Park in an area that is still largely parking lots.  Click here for a map.


By Sharon Staley, AISD

TwoArtChairs4.jpgWhat was not settled was who would maintain them. The intent is to add them to the City’s Art Collection but someone has to pay the 10% of the value into the account that pays for the future maintenance of the collection. District and the City are working on that issue.   If someone in your community offers a similar public space improvement be sure to agree up front on who will maintain it and do you really want to call it art as that lofty title comes with federal protections of the work.

If someone in your community offers a similar public space improvement be sure to agree up front on who will maintain it and do you really want to call it art as that title may come with federal protections of the work and restrictions on what can be done with it many years later.

Parking is easy and you can take some interesting family photos with people in the chairs and the skyline in the background. If you are lucky you notice the great smell of roasting coffee while there. Walk west on Commerce to the other end of the block and stop in at the micro-roaster, Lola Savanah, who will let you go back into the roasting area in the old warehouse to pick out your beans.

Notice that they sold engraved pavers that make up the “rugs” to help fund the installation.

Sidewalk “Word Art” – A low cost placemaking idea

December 16, 2009 By: Tom Davis Category: Placemaking, Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Features

In various locations in the newly rebuilt streets in downtown Houston you will find a stone tablet with an engraved, short poetic phrase and the author’s name. "Happiness is but a step" engraved in the stone The tablets are surrounded by concrete unit pavers as shown in the photo here.  Look for them on the streets served by the METRO buses.

They were installed at the time the sidewalk was re-built.  You could add similar stone tablets to an existing sidewalk. (more…)

The Bayou Fountain

May 23, 2009 By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Fountains, Special Surfaces

This fountain symbolizes the meandering bayous of the Houston area with their rising and falling water levels. The water from the adjacent pump/water treatment vault streams up a hole in the center of the large center stone. From the center channels are carved in winding paths and the water flows to the edge where the water runs down the rough side of the stone, through a grate and into the collection trench around the perimeter of the large stone. The water in the trench flows by gravity to the wet well that is part of the pump/water treatment vault.Bayou fountain with streams

The stone covered sidewalk around the center stone extend out around stone benches. The sidewalk stone has shallow wandering “bayous” continuing out from the center stone. The “bayou’s” bottoms are stained black. The fountain is circled by Mexican Sycamore trees found along the bayous in Houston. (more…)

The Wall Fountain

May 16, 2009 By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Fountains

The fountain I call the wall fountain is at the intersection of Smith and Preston Streets. It is a two-sided, stainless steel wall mounted on a stone covered concrete wall. The water is pumped into the space between the steel walls and flows quietly over both sides of the open top and down the outside of the steel.CIMG7469.JPG

The steel walls are supported by a structural steel frame. As you can see in the photo they have stainless steel “buttons” evenly spaced  to provide for minimal motion of the water while simulating the sound of water flowing around rocks in a stream. (more…)

The Picnic Fountains

May 16, 2009 By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Fountains

The two “picnic table” fountains were built in the focal point of two quarter-circle benches added to Market Square Park during its restoration in the 1990s. The benches are covered with painted tiles that depict a festive scene. The tiles are embedded in the concrete and were created by and installation overseen then by the artist Malou Flato of Austin, Texas.

CIMG7257.JPGThe “fountains”, added by the Cotswold project about 10 years later, are actually 1-inch deep circular pools with the bottom being more ceramics by Ms. Flato. She created a picnic table setting using the same colors are ceramics she used years before. Again she oversaw the placement of the tiles inside the concrete “table” built by the general contractor. This is a great use of art in a casual setting and very fitting for a neighborhood park. (more…)