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HOUSTON CENTER PLAZA

HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA (1982)


The most outstanding feature of Houston is the continual urban grid. This site one square city block finds in the purity of the grid a perfect foil to urban interventions. Thus, the grid of the city became the grid of the plaza, with a rough edge on the outside representing the incomplete nature of the growing city, and the square pool in the center representing the plaza it-self. The plaza is also meant to portray various aspects of Houston on a metaphorical level. The culture of the city is embodied in the theaters, galleries, restaurants and social amenities below the reflecting pool. Most important of all, though, is the spiritual quality of the space. The ground slopes down from the edge of the plaza to the large square pool in the center, with its circular opening above the atrium. The taller trellises toward the center serve as gazebos, with portals and seating. The plaza engages all the senses: color full, fragrant flowers grow between the vines and mist emanates from the top of each enclosure, thereby cooling the surroundings and producing a soothing hissing sound. The gazebos offer spots for relaxation from office work and from the heat of the city as well as places for socializing or quiet contemplation amid green shade. The effect is reminiscent of Islamic Mogul gardens: the sounds of falling water, the lush vegetation and the cool shade form an oasis in a growing city.




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