houston is cloaking a six-lane highway in a 'land bridge' prairie for wildlife

houston is cloaking a six-lane highway in a 'land bridge' prairie for wildlife

reintroducing the prairie to houston

 

Memorial Park, Houston’s largest urban wilderness and recreation park, is nearing the completion of its transformational Land Bridge and Prairie project. Expected to open in December 2022, the nearly 100-acre destination reconnects the north and south halves of the park with safe pedestrian passage over Memorial Drive.

 

Expanding the existing network of trails and creating a dynamic new community space, the Land Bridge and Prairie offers enhanced active and passive recreation opportunities for Park users alongside unmatched views of Houston’s urban skylines. The newly created Prairie that surrounds the Land Bridge re-establishes endangered native Gulf Coast prairie as well as savanna, wetlands and reforested areas to promote regional biodiversity and strengthen surrounding ecologies.

houston land bridgevisualization courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

 

 

memorial park land bridge: infrastructure for wildlife

 

The new Land Bridge in Houston comprises four large tunnels — two in each direction of traffic measuring 300 and 460 feet long respectively — which together enable over 55,000 cars each day to pass below the massive earthen Land Bridge. The four tunnels were constructed of 620 separate prefabricated concrete panel arches that resolve at each end with geometrically pure cast-in-place elliptical headwalls. Drivers enter and leave the well-lit tunnels through these crisply framed openings which offer striking views of the Houston sky and sweeping vistas of the Prairie.

 

Subsuming the six-lane highway that has bisected Memorial Park since the fifties, the Land Bridge tunnels are blanketed with layers of soil, plantings and hardscape to create new park land that rises up and over the noisy roadway, re-connecting the north and south halves of the park. The earthen blanket of the Land Bridge effectively diminishes traffic noise, improving the experiences of pedestrian visitors and non-human inhabitants of the Park.

houston land bridge
visualization courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

 

 

responding to storms and droughts

 

The Memorial Park Conservancy, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Uptown Development Authority worked in close collaboration to develop the master plan for the Memorial Park Land Bridge and Prairie project. The master plan was created in response to multiple factors including severe storm events and an historic drought that had devastated the trees and environment of Memorial Park.

 

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects served as the lead designer for the master plan which was informed by an extensive public engagement process and thorough ecological research, as well as historic studies. The plan catalyzed an unprecedented level of support across Houston for creatively reimagining the park while honoring its essential character and was unanimously approved by Houston City Council in 2015.

houston land bridge
visualization courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects houston land bridge
visualization courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

memorial-park-land-bridge-houston-texas-designboom-05a

visualization courtesy Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

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