Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

Archive for the ‘Placemaking’

Bridges Providing Layers in a Downtown

June 13, 2011 By: Tom Davis Category: Placemaking

CIMG1695.JPGAn aspect about downtown Houston and your city that many may not consider when rushing to work, the theater, a ball game or out to dinner is that there are layers that go beyond the streets and many floors of the buildings–even beyond the pedestrian tunnels here in Houston. In any major city there are bridges and too often people end up trying to live there until they are run out and their cycle starts over. That land space below the bridges is very valuable and should not be wasted on cycling the homeless in an out. (more…)

A Musical Bike Rack?

May 08, 2011 By: Tom Davis Category: Placemaking, Recent Posts, Sidewalk Features

Photo of a bike rack shaped like flowing musical notes.No, the rack does not play music but the shape, like musical notes, reflects the music that is part of every performance at the Wortham Center Theater where it is mounted at the back door. The rack also serves as a sign of what is inside and a component of place making. Surely this is one of those things my architectural friends call “whimsical”. (more…)

Alternative to the White Line

April 02, 2010 By: Tom Davis Category: Parking, Placemaking

Buttons.JPGNote – This is a followup article to Trees in the Parking Lane on Dallas St and Leaves Stamped in Concrete.

There is another thing we tried in the Dallas St. project to give it a special urban identity. The traffic engineers–correctly applying the requirements of the traffic control manual–said there had to be a continuous white line between the parking lane (with the trees) and the lane of moving traffic. We have enough of the unappealing look of chipped, ragged thermoplastic stripping and the fading painted stripes. Besides, that is so typical and this street needed to have its own character–like many others in downtown Houston–but with a limited budget. (more…)

Banners–Nice but Demanding

March 25, 2010 By: Tom Davis Category: Placemaking, Sidewalk Features

Banners in Houston cannot include "advertising"  so are artistic as seen here.Banners are a favorite addition to the streetscape as they create a festive feel and a sense of pageantry. But they are not inexpensive to install and maintain and will take more staff time than you may think. One of the big issues in Houston is what is allowable on the banner–the type of content–and the quality of the image. In Houston, we have a very strict sign ordinance that comes into play as soon someone wants to use the banner as a sign depicting a company, service or product. There is a short list of special provisions that allow for deviations from the norm for specific areas and for very large events. (more…)

Historic Markers on Texas Avenue

January 01, 2010 By: Tom Davis Category: Placemaking, Sidewalk Features

HistoricMarkerTxAtSanJac.jpgToday is January 1, 2010 and I thought it appropriate to spot-light a history-related amenity on the streets in downtown Houston. The Historic Markers, as they are called, are on Texas Avenue between Smith and Avenida de las Americas (map). Each one is a very heavy cast iron structure made up of several components stacked on top of each other around a street light pole with historical information panels at eye level.

The design of the castings is, at least for me, reminiscent of the train industry. That is appropriate as the center of Texas Avenue hosted a freight rail track in the early days of Houston. In fact the track is still there as we tried to install a water line under it but found the 2-foot think concrete base still held there–with the rails. It was far too much trouble and expense to remove.


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…)