Author Archive

Buffalo Bayou in Downtown Houston. Photo: Alex MacLean.

What Era of Design is Houston in?

The Cultural Landscape Foundation held its Leading with Landscape conference in Houston March 11-13. Charles Birnbaum, the founder and executive director of the organization, set the stage for a day-long symposium with a review of Houston history in which he suggested three eras: engineering (freeways), architecture (great buildings), and landscape architecture (today’s park renaissance). After designers presented about their work on Memorial Park, Buffalo Bayou Park, Discovery Green, and other major projects, a final panel was charged with synthesizing and responding to the day’s proceedings. William Fulton, Director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute, spoke after former Mayor Annise Parker. The following is an edited transcription of Fulton’s comments.

Thank you very much for having me. This has been a very stimulating day and evening last night. I want to do a poll. How many of you live in Houston or the Houston area? Keep your hands up. Of those people, in the last month, how many of you have gone out somewhere on the bayou system and walked or jogged or rode your bike or something like that? [More than one hundred.] And of all the people with your hand up, how many of you have transported yourself to this event today without driving your own car? [A dozen or more.] Now, of those, how many of you don’t own your own automobile? [Two or three.] Now you know why I feel so out of place so often in Houston.

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