The Houston Downtown Management District reopened Market Square Park to the public on August 30, 2010.
The geographic centerpiece of downtown Houston’s Historic District, Market Square Park plays a critical role in creating a sense of community for downtown residents and businesses. Recognizing the signiﬁcance of the park to the area, the Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District), Downtown Redevelopment Authority and City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department collaborated on a redesign to give the green space a much-needed makeover.
The philosophy of the new Market Square Park design is built upon three pillars: interpretation of the space’s history; creation of an active, urban green space; and conservation and exhibition of artwork. Anchoring the space is a central lawn placed where the old 19th Century City Hall used to stand in order to evoke a sense of history. A small ourdoor restaurant, Niko Niko’s, is beside it with outdoor seating, trellis providing shade, and a dual plaza / performance area.
A crescent-shaped dog run on the Milam Street (west) side gives pet lovers an attractive and active place to unleash their dogs while remaining aesthetically pleasing, even when not in use. A double row of oak trees line Preston on the block’s south end, extending to Sesquicentennial Park and framing the Malou Flato tiled benches.
Much of Market Square’s art collection was featured in the park’s previous design coordinated by DiverseWorks in 1991, with the unified message of embracing our city’s history. These works by Richard Turner, Paul Hester, James Surls and Malou Flato are preserved or reconfigured in the current design. Newly commissioned artwork includes sculptures by Ketria Bastian Scott and Sharon Connally Ammann in Lauren’s Garden and James Phillips’ carved pup near the dog run.
The intent of the project was to spur economic development in the Historic District neighborhood. Five years after the park reopened, we have seen more than 25 new bars and restaurants come on board and two major residential properties are under construction.