[In]filtrate: Downtown Houston’s New Responsive Waterfront

Competition entry for the ULI/Hines Urban Design Competition in 2012. This project was created by the University of Pennsylvania team of myself, Anne Leslie (MCP), David Dobkin (MCP), Eric De Feo (MArch), and Eduardo Santamaria (MLA/MArch). This project re-imagines the 16.3 acres owned by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The competition focused on the USPS property since it is considered by many stakeholders to be a key site to reconnect the Theater District, the Historic District, and the greater downtown to the Buffalo Bayou. The downtown post office, located at 401 Franklin Street, was one of several hundred USPS properties put up for sale nation-wide in 2009 in order to offset the federal agency’s financial losses. Since that time, land planners and real estate experts have suggested numerous possibilities for the property, which have included converting the land into public open space, mixed-use development that includes residential housing, as well entertainment venues.

With a strong emphasis on the performative aspects of water, the projects design is reflective of the system of water features that carve through the site. The project seeks to provide Houston with a new district that provides an environmentally conscious waterfront development and park which provides several layers of water features performing at varying levels under differing climactic conditions. Through this design the project is capable of providing flood and stormwater management, interactive water features under normal conditions, and cooling features within design micro-climates during Houston’s most oppressive months.

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