Envisioning the next 20 years

Master Plan Update

Since the implementation of the Park’s 1995 master plan developed by renowned landscape architect Laurie Olin, Hermann Park Conservancy has overseen $121 million in renovation projects designed to increase accessibility, restore the Park’s historical elements, encourage community activity through new gathering spaces and increased services, and maintain the Park through thoughtful stewardship programs. With major improvement projects including the Jones Reflection Pool, Lake Plaza and Kinder Station, McGovern Lake, the development of stewardship programs focusing on volunteerism and reforestation efforts, and the opening of the McGovern Centennial Gardens during the Park’s Centennial in 2014, Hermann Park Conservancy has effectively completed its 20-year-old master plan.

As Houston rapidly grows and changes, Hermann Park needs an updated master plan to meet its needs for the future. In October of 2015, Hermann Park Conservancy hired award-winning landscape architecture firm, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), to lead that charge by developing an updated master plan for Hermann Park that will guide further Park improvements. MVVA specializes in planning and designing landscapes that enrich urban areas and engage the imagination. The firm’s projects include the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the renovation of Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and the landscaping of the grounds of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, among many others. Between their hiring in 2015 and the plan's completion in 2017, the master plan team analyzed data, met with community members, and developed concepts that will serve as a strategic plan, guiding the next 20 years of improvements to Hermann Park. 

To see the plan's executive summary, click here.

Hermann Park Users

Hermann Park is one of Houston’s most vital public parks, drawing a diverse array of visitors from every Houston zip code and from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Visitor demographics closely match Houston’s overall demographics, making the Park a microcosm of the larger city. The Park also provides a geographical connection between neighborhoods as different as the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center, and the Third Ward.

A 2016 study by Rice University, commissioned by the Conservancy, studied Park patrons and usership and found virtually no difference in usage patterns between ethnic groups (“Understanding Usership in Hermann Park,” Rice University, 2016), further supporting the idea of the Park as a shared experience.

The Park provides millions of visitors from all walks of life the opportunity to come together to play, relax and celebrate every year. With more and more people moving to the region, every inch of park space becomes more precious and careful consideration must be given to how this space is used. As Houston rapidly grows and changes, it is critical that Hermann Park adequately and thoughtfully adapts to that changing blueprint to meet the needs of future generations to meet these needs and remain a staple greenspace in a city experiencing a significant urban renaissance.

Community Engagement

Over the course of the planning process, the Conservancy hosted three public meetings where preliminary ideas for the new master plan were shared and discussed. The Conservancy also created an online platform for Park users to share thoughts and ideas on what they’d like to see in the Park, which captured hundreds of public comments and ideas and helped to shape the overall plan.

Much of the feedback submitted centered on common themes including the desire for new Park features, increased activities and programs, enhanced environmental features and improved mobility. More play and activity spaces, the addition of a dog park and added food service, and improved parking were commonly mentioned items.

Out of the community engagement process came three broadly defined themes prioritized by the community, which the plan is centered around:

  • Expanding the spectrum of play
  • Invigorating the presence of nature
  • Improving access and vital internal connections

Project Areas

In conjunction with MVVA, teams from mobility and transportation consultants, Nelson\Nygaard, and Sherwood Design Engineers, collaborated with the Conservancy and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department on an update to Hermann Park’s master plan that looks to holistically revitalize and improve the Park’s 445 acres with major focus on the following areas:

  • The Commons at Hermann Park: Seeks to create a welcoming and civic landscape; update the playground area; and improve access for the adjacent Texas Medical Center and Rice University
  • The Park Center: Seeks to improve the efficiency of parking and vehicular circulation within the Park; and to create a new arrival experience and play landscape
  • Bayou Parkland: Seeks to enhance the quality of the existing habitat, recreation, and the overall landscape experience of the area; improve connections to the Brays Bayou Greenway trail, Bayou Parkland West, and the MacGregor/Almeda Park entrance
  • The Park Perimeter: Seeks to better the condition of existing sidewalks and pathways in and around the Park; improve the Park's access/entrance points; develop new multi-use bike and pedestrian trails; and improve overall connectivity of networks throughout the Park

While the plan will focus on creating a more connected and cohesive Hermann Park, it outlines improvements that will touch 233 acres of parkland, more than half of the Park’s total foot print.

These improvements will bring:

  • 20 miles of new and improved trails
  • 26 new and improved access points
  • 21 acres of new landscape at the Park’s center
  • 55 acres of new and improved habitat
  • 2,000 new trees
  • A new dog park
  • Improved parking and mobility
  • A Park-wide bicycle network
  • New accessible play gardens 
  • New and improved food and picnic areas
  • Improved hydrologic systems


We want to hear from you! Hermann Park is truly a place for all Houstonians and its visitors. We invite and encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on our master plan by emailing us at ideas@hermannpark.org

Master Planning Team

To learn more about Hermann Park Conservancy and what we do to preserve and improve Hermann Park, click here.

To learn more about the project's landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, click here.

To learn more about the project's mobility and transportation consultants, Nelson\Nygaard, click here.

To learn more about Sherwood Design Engineers, click here