Monday, July 23, 2012

Houston's Walled Garden

My friend Neal and I were in a tall building recently looking out over the city, and noted that there is an interesting phenomenon in Houston.  There are now enough tall buildings to almost outline a new zone.  If you go from the Medical Center up to Downtown, west along Allen Parkway/Memorial, south along 610/Post Oak, back east to Greenway Plaza, and then southeast to return to the Medical Center (here's a satellite map of the area - sorry I'm not skilled enough to overlay an outline; UPDATE: a rough outline map by a HAIFer) there is an almost continuous - well not continuous - but a substantial line of skyscrapers.  And it's pretty green within that zone, as least from an elevated viewpoint.  And we named it "The Walled Garden".  Somewhat similar aesthetically to New York's Central Park or Chicago's Millennium Park, but much larger and, of course, not a public park.  It does, in my stretched definition, contain the key parks of central Houston: Hermann, Discovery Green, Eleanor Tinsley/Buffalo Bayou, and Memorial (my concept, my boundaries ;).  It also contains such key areas as the Galleria, Highland Village, River Oaks, Upper Kirby, Montrose/Neartown, Midtown, the Museum District, Rice University and the Rice Village.

"Inside the Loop" is a very common phrase you'll hear in Houston.  I'd like to think "The Walled Garden" could be a similar such phrase describing a narrower zone where young singles want to live (as evidenced by the explosion in apartment construction within it) vs. more family-oriented areas like West U, Bellaire, The Heights, or the various neighborhoods of the east side.  It could also be used for branding and attracting young talent to Houston, like the way people talk about the Near North Side/Lincoln Park in Chicago or Santa Monica in LA or Manhattan in NYC.  By having a unifying label over the area, it's easier to promote it.  And I think "Houston's Walled Garden" has a pretty appealing ring to it.

Now if only they could only fill in the gaps a bit, maybe with a tower somewhere near Ashby and Bissonnet?... ;-)

UPDATE: other options might be "Skyscraper Garden" or "Tower Garden"?  Thoughts on all options or others welcome in the comments.

I'll end with a few small misc items to close out the post:
Finally, I completely agree with the recent op-ed in the Chronicle advocating to keep the Battleship Texas at the San Jacinto battlefield (WSJ story).  They attract far more visitors as a combination than separate.  Trying to get kids to go see an empty battlefield?  Boring.  Oh, there's a real battleship there too.  Cool!

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9 Comments:

At 9:04 AM, July 24, 2012, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Discussion thread on HAIF including map. http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/26858-houstons-walled-garden/page__gopid__405694

 
At 9:40 AM, July 24, 2012, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

David Crossley of Houston Tomorrow emailed me that they had a similar concept a while back:

Map: http://www.houstontomorrow.org/uploads/urban-core-3.jpg

"We call the gray areas the "urban zone" and note that it nestles in nicely with single family homes in a tight grid pattern, plus lots of trees and greenspace. The application of high capacity transit in these gray areas seems like a no-brainer.

The space includes downtown and the Medical center to the east, and goes out to Westchase, with the Southwest Freeway the slightly diagonal line across the middle."

 
At 2:58 PM, July 24, 2012, Anonymous awp said...

if we can get rid of EaDo and its ilk I am all in.

Also inside the loop is way to large and diverse to really mean anything. I think the area you outlined is what most people think of when they say "inside the loop" and mean to describe a place, destination or area(other than just physical location literally inside the loop).

 
At 3:16 PM, July 24, 2012, Blogger Jardinero1 said...

"In the loop" still works as well as walled garden, if you are referring to a loop of buildings and not Loop 610. It's an uphill battle trying to change a place name. Galleria property owners have been trying to change the galleria to uptown for a decade, to no avail.

 
At 3:34 PM, July 24, 2012, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

That is true about Galleria vs. Uptown (and poll people sometime whether it's Transco or Williams Tower...). The difference here is the lack of an existing label to replace. As awp pointed out, "inside the loop" is too broad, and the various districts (Midtown, Neartown, Upper Kirby, etc.) are too small. This zone pretty much perfectly describes where young, single professionals want to live.

 
At 9:50 AM, July 29, 2012, Blogger Mohasjuiceplus said...

What a great read!! However....THIS....is a Tower Garden!! https://epic.towergarden.com

 
At 7:16 PM, July 31, 2012, Anonymous Dallas Homes for Sale said...

I believe Galleria property owners tried to change to uptown for a while ago but I am not sure if they has a chance to change it.

 
At 5:16 PM, January 26, 2013, Blogger Christopher Alexander said...

i would like to offer a name idea that nods slightly toward the fifties: "Skyline Gardens." Over and out.

 
At 7:53 AM, January 27, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I really like that one!

 

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