Background

Zoom Aerial view of the Commons site (MVVA Inc.)

Aerial view of the Commons site (MVVA Inc.)

The Commons will be created in a 26-acre area in the southwest portion of Hermann Park, bordering the Houston Zoo to the east, Cambridge Street to the south, Fannin and Main Streets to the west, and Hermann Park’s Japanese Garden and McGovern Lake on the north / northwest side.

While this sizeable portion of the Park includes a natural point of entry into the Park, it is currently under-utilized and virtually ignored by the public, creating congestion and over-utilization in other parts of the Park. Architect Marlon Blackwell will be designing all of the structures and landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) will help us transform this under-developed area into an inviting gateway and lively community asset.

Our objective for the Commons, and our master plan, is simple: to ensure that the Park becomes an even more valuable place for all the citizens of Houston in the years ahead, contributing to the quality of life and serving as a place that unifies our community for all the years to come

If you would like to support the Commons project, please click here, or contact Meghan Miller at mmiller@hermannpark.org.

The Play Gardens and Play Areas

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    Drawing of Snake Den (MVVA Inc.)

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    Rendering of Carousel (Marlon Blackwell Architects)

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    Rendering of Water Play Gardens (MVVA Inc.)

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    Rendering of Space Adventure (MVVA Inc.)

The centerpiece of the Commons is the expansive Play Gardens, a new two-acre central playground that will reimagine the "play for all" legacy and accessibility of the Buddy Carruth Playground for All Children. The Commons play areas have been designed for a wide variety of experiences:

  • The Swing Hill that offers an oldschool playground experience with state-of-the-art swings and is situated near another family destination, the Picnic Pavilion.
  • The Cypress Grove play area, populated by colorful equipment shaped like snakes and alligators in a whimsical celebration of Houston’s native flora and fauna.
  • The Gorilla Forest, which offers a warm nod to our neighboring Houston Zoo and features play equipment in the form of a friendly, larger-than-life gorilla.
  • The Splash Cove, a water play area with slim towers projecting cyclones of water in the air, creating a vibrant zone of cooling relief for the whole family.
  • The Bayou, which provides an interactive first-hand look at the inner workings of Houston’s natural water features and offers activities where children can experience water dynamics.
  • The Space Adventure area with a 45-foot-tall Rocket Ship slide, and a space capsule for climbing and imaginary play.
  • The Thicket, a wooded enclave with features for children up to age 5 with areas like The Burrow, Toad Hollow and the Snake Den designed for safe play options.
  • A Carousel that will be a classic addition, with a modern twist, to the Park.

Each area also offers shaded seating areas for parents so children will never be out of sight and the whole family can enjoy the outdoor space.

A Place for Everyone

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    Rendering of Live Oak Deck (MVVA Inc.)

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    Rendering of Entry Garden (MVVA Inc.)

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    Rendering of Historic Fannin Pavilion (Marlon Blackwell Architects)

The Commons will be a place where people can come together in a warm and gracious environment that engages all guests. Special features will include:

  • The Central Lawn, an expansive area at the center of the Commons where visitors can relax and enjoy informal sports activities.
  • Live Oak Terrace, a decked area designed around the Park’s iconic oaks where visitors can enjoy shade, fresh air, gathering tables and lounge furniture for families and groups to meet and share a meal or snack while enjoying the outdoors.
  • New grilling and picnic areas.
  • The Historic Fannin Pavilion, which will be renovated as a central feature with major refurbishments including more natural light, food stations and a food truck court, and custom wooden tables and benches.

Natural Spaces

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    Drawing of Wetland Garden (MVVA Inc.)

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    Rendering of Stone Cove (MVVA Inc.)

The restoration and conservation of the natural lands bordering McGovern Lake are central to the master plan, providing opportunities to connect with nature through:

  • Nature habitats and activity areas
  • An experiential Wetland Garden
  • A Stone Cove
  • Extensive new native plantings

To learn more about the native plantings project, click here.