Enchanted Environment Hermann Park Lake Plaza   |   Houston, Texas   |   15,000 SF   |   LEED Gold Certified

Hermann Park is one of Houston’s finest and most-visited public parks. But visitors to Houston’s beloved park would hardly guess that for years it had been underresourced and went through a long period of neglect. The Hermann Park Conservancy was established to guide the restoration of the park through a comprehensive master plan detailing a series of improvements. The creation of Lake Plaza, designed by Overland, was one such improvement, serving as a visitor entry and destination for rest, gathering, and play.

Parks Need People
Planners and urban park specialists from Frederick Law Olmsted to Jane Jacobs have repeatedly stressed the importance of circulation for a city’s green spaces. People tend to follow other people, even if it means taking a longer route around vacant, inhospitable space. To activate open space in an urban zone, it falls to architects and landscape architects to draw people into the heart of a park, bringing with them the lifeblood of human contact.
Bringing It All Together
Hermann Park had no shortage of amenities when it hired Overland Partners and landscape architect Laurie Olin to rejuvenate the open space.  Located in the heart of Houston, the park is within walking distance of the Texas Medical Center, Rice University, the Museum District, and the Third Ward. Its own cultural amenities, including the Houston Zoo and the beloved Hermann Park Mini-Train, drew plenty of visitors, but they lacked a cohesive outdoor connection.
Hermann Park Lake Plaza Bridge Perspective Sketch
Hermann Park Lake Plaza Perspective Sketch

Bridging The Gap
Overland’s vision and guidance helped the Hermann Park Conservancy transform a dilapidated area of our park into a place that is vibrant and alive with visitor activity.
Mike Johnson Project Manager Hermann Park Conservancy
The Lake Plaza Pavilion now serves as the front porch of Hermann Park, welcoming visitors to explore the park’s amenities or to gather and rest during a day of museum hopping. It features a new depot for the mini-train, gift shop, café with raised dining terrace overlooking the lake, and bridge over the pedal boat lagoon, as well as a promenade along the lake’s edge. The built elements were designed to blend seamlessly into the park setting, allowing the natural environment to remain the focus of attention.The plaza also provides variety in a relatively flat landscape, rising to create a subtle shift in topography and then dropping to meet McGovern Lake.

Employing a variety of sustainable practices throughout the design, the project earned LEED Gold certification. In addition to building design, Overland and Olin substantially bolstered the population of flora across the 8 acres. The Plaza’s Jones Greenway, whose plants will eventually grow to resemble a thriving East Texas forest in the center of the parking area, serves as a detention basin during heavy rainfall. This feature helps with flood prevention, and the water collected in the Greenway’s swale is filtered of sediment and pollutants by lush plant life before being released into Brays Bayou. The Lake Plaza successfully serves as a point of connection between the natural and built environment and the numerous cultural institutions and functions located within the park itself.

Awards
  • AIA San Antonio Honor Award 2011
  • Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, Illumination Section Award 2011
  • ED+C Magazine Excellence in Design Awards Honorable Mention 2010
  • ASLA Texas Merit Award 2010
  • ULI Houston Development of Distinction Award 2010
  • Keep Houston Beautiful Mayor’s Award Proud Partner Award 2009
Publications
  • DFW Construction News, “What is So Good About Going Green?,” May 2010
  • Houston Construction News, “Going Green,” May 2010
  • Houston Business Journal, “City’s Green Resource Building Earns LEED Certification,” April 2010
  • ArchInnovations, “Houston’s Hermann Park Lake Plaza Receives LEED Gold from the USGBC,” March 2010
  • GreenBuildingDigest.com, “New Green Hermann Park Lake Plaza,” March 2010
  • Houston’s BisNow Deal Sheet, “Environment Section,” March 2010
  • Houston Chronicle Online – Homes Section, “Houston projects get LEED Gold Certification,” March 2010
  • Houston Business Journal, “Hermann Park Entity Earns Gold LEED,” February 2010