Sunday, December 26, 2010

Architecture for Discovery Green | Houston Texas | Page Southerland Page

Discovery Green returns 12 acres of land that were mostly open parking lots to a natural green space in the heart of downtown Houston.
The Gold LEED certified park houses a range of architectural elements which includes two restaurants, a park administration building, underground parking for 600 vehicles and numerous site features such as a bandstand and shade structures of various sizes and configurations.
It provides a central focus for new development and a core of outdoor activity nearby the city’s convention center, ballpark and arena.
The three primary buildings on the site--the café, the park building and the restaurant—parallel two preexisting rows of live oaks and reinforce their linear character.
Each building is composed of long, thin volumes that draw activity from the major north/south promenade deep into the park on either side.
The park building and the café have deep, shady porches that dominate their south faces. Carefully designed to create a shield from hot south and west sun, the porch roofs pitch up to the north to achieve balanced daylight for the outdoor spaces below as well as to induce air movement, drawing warm air up and out.
The south-facing roofs of the café and park building porches house an array of photovoltaic collectors that provide a portion of the power needed for the park.
The restaurant is dominated by a long, thin dining room that nestles under the boughs of the live oak alley.
Tall glass walls toward the trees and at each end open the room generously to the park, while a richly textured brick volume housing kitchen and service functions anchors the room on the street side.
The upper level of the restaurant is predominantly a shaded outdoor dining terrace accessed by broad staircases at the east and west ends.
Entry/exit points for the underground garage are also featured as landmark architectural elements in the park.
The main vehicular entry across the street from the convention center is nestled into a land berm that reflects the shape of the ramp of the garage as it descends into the ground.
Two pedestrian-only exits ascend from the garage through linear stair forms that break the ground above as long, thin pavilions.
They are faced in a colorful skin of powder coated aluminum boxes created by Austin sculptor Margo Sawyer.
Exterior materials for the park buildings are primarily natural hued masonry, metal, wood and glass.
The masonry is a ruddy Gulf Coast brick laid in a strongly horizontal coursing pattern to reflect the emphatic flatness of the clay geology of the region.
A reflective anodized aluminum is employed for roofs and trim on an explicit steel frame. Certified woods are utilized for soffits, gates, screens and decks.
Generous glass walls, primarily oriented to the north, make prominent connections between indoors and outdoors while providing soft indirect light to interior spaces.....more
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