Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

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…)

Sidewalk Cafes – Pros and Cons

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

20050505 DemoVehCts_1955.JPGSidewalk cafes do “activate” the street by providing a reason for people to stay on the sidewalk; to see those driving by and be seen. In a city where smoking is prohibited inside–like Houston–the cafes are a place for the smokers. In small restaurants they provide additional floor space to sell meals. For larger restaurants they provide the same advantage. i.e. a space to increase earnings–all provided by the tax payers, Houston does have a permit fee cover the administrative expense of the permit. (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…)

Trees in a Parking Lane on Dallas Street

February 21, 2010 By: Tom Davis Category: Parking

Paver Inserts–New Life for Concrete Sidewalks

January 09, 2010 By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Features

Concrete sidewalks can become an addition to the streetscape rather than just a gray strip that contributes nothing to the experience.Paver panels added to existing sidewalk by sawing in tool joint. Final product appears as if built at same time. Replacing the entire sidewalk is usually not feasible. We tried something new that uses the existing sidewalk as the framework and only replaces a uniform area that can be easily removed and filled to create a classy, customized feature. (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.