Ultimate Guide to Buffalo Bayou Park

Buffalo Bayou Wasn't Always a Walk in the Park

Four folks who made Buffalo Bayou Park happen, on their biggest challenges—and how they overcame them

By Roxanna Asgarian January 23, 2017 Published in the February 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Scott McCready, Larry Speck (top row, L to R), Anne Olson and Gregg Burks (bottom row, L to R) were among those who made Buffalo Bayou Park a reality.

Bridging the Gap

“Before the park was redeveloped, visitors would either have to commit to very long walks or face busy roadway bridges to cross over the bayou, limiting the value of the park. The pedestrian bridges now open the park up to more users—one of the key goals of the project.... Despite all the physical challenges and industrial-design materials, we wanted the bridges to reflect the natural beauty of the bayou. The warm color of the Corten steel matches the native vegetation, while the subtle arches in the bridges celebrate the crossing of water.”  Scott McCready, principal landscape architect, SWA Group

Building Smart

“Floods are a way of life in Houston. The structures would have to sustain impact from logs and other debris that might rush down the bayou after a storm. This is not a normal condition for buildings, but these special circumstances led us to use strong board-formed concrete piers for the design. Also, Houston is often hot and humid. These additional challenges inspired the pavilions’ deep overhangs and light steel trellises to create comfortable shelter from the sun.” Larry Speck, principal architect, Page, which designed the structures at Lost Lake and the Water Works

It Takes a Village

“It was a major undertaking, but thanks to great partnerships with the Kinder Foundation, Harris County Flood Control District and Houston Parks and Recreation Department, it came together beautifully. And with the support of more than 800 donors—from corporations to everyday citizens—more than $58 million dollars was raised, showing how much Houstonians value, and have since embraced, the park.” Anne Olson, president, Buffalo Bayou Partnership

Many Hands on Deck

“We have a team of 24 landscapers and maintenance personnel, responsible for 160 acres, doing everything from clearing debris from paths to cleaning after bats below the Waugh Street Bridge. The park is also filled with reforestation areas that have nearly 30 varieties of native plants. So instead of mowing, we have to manually pull weeds by hand. In the summertime, the weeds and vines get out of control, and so we also rely on the additional help of more than 3,000 volunteers.” Gregg Burks, parks director, Buffalo Bayou Partnership

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