Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

The New Avenida de las Americas

By: Tom Davis Category: Amenities, Misc Urban Infrastructure, Sidewalk Features, Sidewalk Fountains, Special Surfaces

Avenida de las Americas (ADLA) was originally to be a major north-south boulevard on the east side of downtown but is now a street only seven blocks long and can never be longer. Why? The best place for the new stadium for the Astros Baseball team (known as Minute Maid Park) was the old passenger rail station yard and that blocked the northern expansion of ADLA. Not many years later the search for the best place to locate a new multi-purpose arena was found and hence the Toyota Center blocked the southern expansion of ADLA.

GRB prior to 2016

Then the seven-block-long, eight-lane-wide boulevard did not serve the purpose as originally intended and was a large space that could be so much more.

Reducing the width and converting space from pavement to something else would be easy if only the pavement did not serve an important purpose. In this case, the pavement served as the staging site for many many buses that brought the conference center’s patrons from the hotels to the center and were dropped off and picked up at the front doors across the front of the five-block-long conference center.  The solution for where to unload the buses was to convert the parking garage on the south end into a transit center/garage and build a new transit center/garage on the north end. Then, connect them both by pedestrian sky bridges to the conference center.

With those plans in place, the redesign of the ADLA ROW went into high gear and faced many hurdles including concerns for the impact to traffic circulation. The concerns were addressed and the design finalized while one garage was being modified and the other was being built.

Directly related to the issue of Convention Center patron’s access was the need for a second 1,000 room hotel within walking distance. That need was to be met by the construction of the Marriot Marquis on the north side of Discovery Green as the missing “book-end” to the 1,000 room Hilton Americas on the south side of that park. That construction was underway at the same time as for its garage across ADLA, the light rail on the same side of Rusk St., ADLA’s massive overhaul and the extensive overhaul of the convention center’s five-block-long front door.

There were many issues that had to be dealt with to make all the pieces fit. One of the most interesting is that during the initial development of the ADLA concepts the proposed light rail expansion and its east-west crossing of downtown was being “set in stone” and the rail would have to go through the proposed garage. To make it more challenging the trains had to go into service while the garage was begin built around and over the newly operating track.

As this website is about urban streets the above does not touch on the major changes made inside the convention center to open it up to the new streetscape and pedestrian realm. That is another story for someone else to tell who could do it justice. When you are there to see the changes outside be sure to look inside and have someone show you what was done. As a teaser, notice in the first photo above the front of the building is a repeat of the same bland facade. Notice in the first photo below that the building now has a main entry with a spectacular fountain.

Having been in the middle of that six-plus year effort I could ramble on with more stories but they are not as important or interesting as what was built. The photos below tell that story best. Keep in mind that everything you see here is inside the eight-lane wide boulevard in the first photo in this post. [Be sure to click the images to see a larger view.]


0 Comments to “The New Avenida de las Americas”

  1. Great story! We,,weren't familiar with the ADLA ROW before this article.

  2. i am very interested to this news and articles


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