Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

A Bike Rack as a Word

December 11, 2013 By: Tom Davis Category: Amenities, Recent Posts, Sidewalk Features

Navigation bike rack.jpgThe Greater East End Management District has developed an alternative use for a wide esplanade on Navigation Blvd. just east of downtown Houston.  There will be more posts to hi-lite the good ideas but for the first post this one is about an unusual bike rack.

As you can see it is the word “lauGh” neatly cut from a sheet of steel, hot-dip galvanized and anchored in the concrete sidewalk. In this case the concrete was stained red and text was added to indicate it is a bike rack. I was told that initially everyone thought it was art and not to be used for securing their bike.

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)