Historic Emancipation Park / Perkins+Will

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© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth
  • Architects: Perkins+Will
  • Location: Emancipation Park, 3018 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77004, United States
  • Lead Architects: Perkins+Will, North Carolina Practice
  • Area: 16000.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2017
  • Photographs: Mark Herboth, Luis Ayala
  • Structural Engineer: MMSA
  • Civil Engineer: Gunda
  • Mep Engineers: Rice & Gardner
  • Landscape Architect: M2L Associates Inc.
  • Sculptural Fabrication: Demiurge LLC
© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth

Text description provided by the architects. In Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood, Perkins+Will has transformed the historic Emancipation Park into an interwoven tapestry of buildings and landscape that celebrate the park's rich history while embracing the present and future of its community.

© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth
Site Plan Site Plan
© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth

Established in 1872 by four former slaves who pooled their funds to purchase ten acres of open space, Emancipation Park commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, today celebrated as Juneteenth. Until the 1950s, it was the only public park

© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth
Renovated Aquatic Center Plan
© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth
New Building Plan
© Mark Herboth
swimming pool in Houston that was open to African Americans. The condition of the park had grown tired and underused when Perkins+Will was commissioned to restore it, including refurbishing landscapes and playgrounds, renovating two historic buildings, and designing a new building and plaza.

© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth

Consistent with the 1938 Hare & Hare plan for the park, the new design organizes major commemorative elements (a repurposed community center, renovated and expanded pool house, and a new recreation center) along a large entry plaza – Founder’s Promenade. This new central spine is anchored on one end by the indoor/outdoor stage of the Community Center and extends to a grand gateway sculpture commemorating the movement from slavery to freedom. Its landscape stitches together entrances of each building with a flowing texture that branches out to activate and connect perimeter zones of the park.

© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth
Renovated Aquatic Center Plan Renovated Aquatic Center Plan
© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth

The new Recreation Center is clad in colorful composite panels on the east and west facades. The rust and earth-tone colors of the panels echo the familiar patina of nearby shotgun house roofs and the red brick foundations of historical homes in the neighborhood. A large porch connects the interior of the building to the plaza and mimics in scale the native live oak trees that were carefully preserved during the project. Altogether, the new Emancipation Park reflects the pride, resilience, and hope its founders expressed when they established the park 145 years ago.

© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth
New Building Plan New Building Plan
© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth
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