Overview: Buffalo Bayou Park Updates

Buffalo Bayou Park features 160 acres of “passive” recreation and destination points, such as hike and bike trails, a dog park, event venues and food service. The $58 million project was undertaken by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership to revitalize the area into a major destination for Houston. Page is the architect for two buildings and two large pavilions in the 2.3-mile Houston park, which was planned and designed by landscape architecture firm SWA.

The buildings needed to be strong enough to be landmarks, open enough to be inviting, and shady enough to keep people comfortable. The architectural elements are designed to create landmarks and places of focus, and it was also important that they feel like a natural extension of the landscape design. The Lost Lake building features a visitor center, private event and dining space, along with canoe and kayak rentals. The Water Works Building frames an important plaza that acts as a gateway to the park. It also offers a visitor center, recreational activities and outdoor event space for music and dancing.

The Cistern, a previously abandoned underground reservoir directly underneath the Water Works Building, has been re-opened and given a new accessible entrance. A walkway winds around the interior perimeter of the 87,500-square-foot expanse, giving visitors a view of the rows of 25-foot tall concrete columns which stand in two inches of water on the reservoir’s floor. This space is intended for multiple uses such as temporary art installations and acoustic performances.

The award-winning park has received extensive media coverage: 

To build a Trinity Park, Dallas should learn from Houston's Buffalo Bayou 
Mark Lamster, Dallas Morning News, 06/18/2018

It has now been almost six months since Harvey wrought its devastation on Houston, and that scene is emblematic of the city's resilience and resolve, even if it is only a partial story. It is of particular relevance to Dallas, because Buffalo Bayou Park is a model for the development of the Trinity River flood plain into a park of its own.

Building of the Week: The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park
John Hill, World Architects Magazine, 02/26/2018

The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park is "a found treasure". Design architect Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, says, "The Cistern exemplifies Houston’s relatively recent commitment to preserving its architectural history, as well as the potential of adaptive reuse to transform defunct spaces into create unique civic destinations."

2018 Best Architect: Larry Speck
Modern Luxury Texas, 02/14/2018

Perhaps none of Speck's achievements though, have resonated more with the unpredictability of the modern world than Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston's 160-acre urban green space completed in 2016. But disaster loomed in the form of last summer's Hurricane Harvey, whose waters submerged most of the park. As the waters receded, it became obvious the park's resiliency wasn't really an accident. When Speck designed its structures, he followed the rules for disaster prevention.

Buffalo Bayou Park Wins International Award From Urban Land Institute
Houston Public Media, 11/21/2017 

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has selected Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Park as one of the 13 winners of its 2017 Global Awards for Excellence, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership announced Tuesday. ULI is a nonprofit education and research organization that supports the responsible use and development of land. 

Buffalo Bayou Park Weathers Hurricane Harvey, Wins 2017-2018 ULI Global Award for Excellence
Parul Dubey, Informed Infrastructure, 11/21/2017

 Houston’s beloved,160-acre “Central Park” is celebrated this week with an Urban Land Institute (ULI)  Global Award for Excellence. The prestigious award recognizes the full development impact of a project, including leadership, contribution to the community, innovations, public/private partnerships, environmental protection and enhancement, response to societal needs, and financial viability.

Urban Land Institute awards 13 Developments in North America, Europe and Asia
Mackenzie Goldberg, Archinect and Bustler, 11/16/2017

Thirteen real estate development projects from around the globe have been selected as winners of the Urban Land Institute's 2017-2018 Global Awards for Excellence. Widely recognized as one of the land use industry’s most prestigious awards programs, the awards honor projects that demonstrate an innovative, forward-looking approach to design and development and achieve the highest standard of excellence in design, construction, economics, planning, and management.

Leading the Future of Urban Development: 13 Projects Worldwide Selected as Winners of ULI 2017-2018 Global Awards for Excellence
Trisha Riggs, Urban Land Institute, 11/14/2017

The winners were selected by an international jury made up of ULI members representing a multidisciplinary collection of real estate development expertise, including finance, land planning, development, public affairs, design, and other professional services.

Buffalo Bayou Park, 2017–2018 Global Awards for Excellence Winner
Batel Yona, Urban Land Institute, 11/13/2017

The renewed 160-acre Buffalo Bayou Park is a critical urban green space, extending upstream from downtown Houston along Buffalo Bayou, the principal drainage system for much of the city. Stretching over 2.3 miles, the park offers Houstonians access to one of the region’s last unchannelized urban waterways. 

The Proven Value of Resilient Design
Katie Gerfen, Architect Magazine, 10/04/2017

Houston's recently completed Buffalo Bayou Park weathered the flooding of Hurricane Harvey with limited damage, thanks to the foresightedness of Page and SWA Group.

What Will Happen to the New Buffalo Bayou?
Sarah Rufca Nielsen, Houstonia Magazine, 09/12/2017

Nothing symbolizes the new, reimagined Houston quite like Buffalo Bayou Park, the much-heralded 160 acres of greenspace and amenities that runs through Houston’s inner core. Though the park was famously designed to flood, like much of Houston, it will be a while before the imprint of Hurricane Harvey is removed from its landscape. 

Design Awards 2017: The Cistern
Jesse Hager, Texas Architect Magazine, 09/11/2017

The 2017 Texas Society of Architects Design Awards jury seemed to treat the Cistern as a discovery, which in a way it was. 

2017 Winner, Best Public Space Exhibition: Rain by Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern
CODA Worx, 09/04/2017

Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) co-presented the inaugural art installation, Rain: Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern featuring 2iPM009 from the Venezuelan artist’s video series Mobile Paintings. 2iPM009 is an abstract video-projection piece, 1 minute and 56 seconds in length that evokes a rain-soaked night. 

18 "rail to trail" projects following in the High Line's footsteps
Eleanor Gibson, Dezeen, 06/27/2017

Buffalo Bayou Park is one of 18 projects in the new High Line Network. The initiative allows similar "rail-to-trail"projects in North America to share tips and advice on creating all-inclusive public parks in unusual spaces.

25 Finalists Named for ULI Global Awards for Excellence
Trisha Riggs, Urban Land, 06/05/2017

According to the ULI Global Awards jury chairman, the 25 finalists for the 2017 Awards, including Buffalo Bayou Park, "demonstrate a thoughtful, innovative approach to urban development that is adding to the sustainability and livability of the communities in which they are located.” 

AIA design awards: Contemplative studio, playroom, mysterious cisterns, row houses and more honored
Jan Buchholz, Austin Business Journal, 05/14/2017

AIA Austin presented Page with a Design Award for creating public accessibility to the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, a defunct underground drinking water reservoir, which was built in Houston in 1927. 

Reclaimed Light
Katie Gerfen, Architectural Lighting, 04/13/2017

Architectural Lighting Magazine, sister publication to Architect Magazine, interviewed designer Lawrence W. Speck who noted of The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park, “It was more about designing darkness than light... if you light it too much, it takes the magic away.”

Interview With The Designer: Buffalo Bayou Park
Thomas Fisher, Architect Magazine, 03/14/2017

This interview with Architect Magazine delves into the design thinking of the built architecture of Buffalo Bayou Park, how the project relates to a natural resource and encourages community diversity. 

Uncovering an Urban Relic
Jennifer Babisak, Texas Highways Magazine, 03/01/2017

Follow a Texan's experience touring the Buffalo Bayou Cistern as she learns the history of the Cistern and considers its new role in present-day Houston. 

A Virtual Rainstorm Fills the Houston Cistern
DJ Pangburn, The Creators Project, 02/13/2017 

The Buffalo Bayou Cistern was adapted to accommodate art installations, particularly light and sound. Its first such exhibit, a work by a Venezuelan artist, was loaned from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston's permanent collection. 

2017 Good Brick Awards will honor restorations
Diane Cowen, Houston Chronicle, 02/10/2017

The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park was honored as an outstanding award recipient at the annual Preservation Houston awards with the only Martha Peterson Award. 

Interiors Awards 2017: Sustainable
Zach Mortise, Contract Magazine, 01/27/2017

Contract Design Magazine explains why The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park received an award in its Sustainable category, citing the flexible nature of its adaptation and the thought process behind it. 

ULI Houston names 6 winners in 10th annual Development of Distinction Awards 
Olivia Pulsinelli, Houston Business Journal, 01/24/2017

Buffalo Bayou Park is a winner of the Urban Open Space category in the recent ULI Houston Development of Distinction awards. The organization called the park "a desirable recreational amenity with its scenic natural setting; a tourism generator with its proximity to many of the city's cultural, historic and culinary offerings; and also a sought-after amenity for real estate developers."

ULI reveals picks for distinctive Houston real estate developments
Nancy Sarnoff, Houston Chronicle, 01/24/2017

The Urban Land Institute, Houston Chapter, announced Buffalo Bayou Park as one of the regional real estate projects recognized with its prestigious Development of Distinction awards. A jury of three national real estate experts toured all finalists' projects in order to select the winners. 

The City’s Greatest Landmark Is Right Under Your Nose
Jeanne Lyons Davis, Houstonia Magazine, 01/23/2017

The Cistern, one of Houston's early underground drinking water reservoirs, has already attracted thousands of visitors since it opened in May 2016. Now, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership has collaborated with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston on an installation that projects a two-minute video into the vast space, set to a soundtrack that appropriately sounds like drops of water raining down.  

Who Helped Create Buffalo Bayou Park
Katharine Shilcutt, Houstonia Magazine, 01/23/2017

Buffalo Bayou wasn’t always a walk in the park. Houstonia Magazine interviewed four key people who made Buffalo Bayou Park happen on their biggest challenges—and how they overcame them. 

2016 Best of Year Winner for Pièce de Résistance
Mark McMenamin, Interior Design Magazine, 01/09/2017

The Cistern was honored by Interior Design Magazine with its prestigious "Pièce de Résistance" award at the annual Best of Year Awards in New York City. 

Houston reservoir reborn as public space, canvas for art
Juan A. Lozano, Associated Press, 12/25/2016
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership's successful repurposing of an unused city utility is the latest example in a national urban planning trend of preserving historic buildings and other structures, helping to create the kinds of communities where people want to live.

An Artistic Storm Fills a Formerly Abandoned Water Reservoir
Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, 12/25/2016
A light and sound art installation has proven to be even more effective inside The Cistern where the exponential shapes created by the animated abstractions warp over the columns and are infinitely reflected in the shallow water that fills the bottom. 

2016 Best of Design Awards for Civic Institution
Architect's Newspaper, 12/21/2016

Buffalo Bayou Park was deemed the best recent Civic Institution project in the US by Architect's Newspaper, which has awarded this distinction for three years in a row. 

2016 Best of Design Awards for Adaptive Restorations
Architect's Newspaper, 12/21/2016

The Architect's Newspaper Best Of Design Awards competition designated Cistern at Buffalo Bayou a finalist in the Adaptive Restorations category. 

As if you needed another reason to visit the Cistern
Molly Glentzer, Houston Chronicle, 12/07/2016

The Buffalo Bayou Partnership which operates The Cistern has collaborated with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston on an installation that projects a two-minute video into the vast space, set to a soundtrack that appropriately sounds like drops of water raining down. Tours are open to the public with advance reservations required.  

Reborn on the Bayou
Florence Tang, Texas Architect Magazine, 11/08/2016
The article examines what Buffalo Bayou historically has meant to the city of Houston from its founding and explains how this nationally acclaimed urban park "grew up" with Houston. 

New Riverwalk offers a vision of the future of urban parks
Patrick Sisson, Curbed, 10/24/2016

Chicago's new waterfront gem shows how urban public spaces are evolving and Buffalo Bayou Park is held up as a suiccessful national example of how residents are benefiting from them. 

The Building and the Bayou: Views of The Dunlavy
Colley Hodges, OffCite, 09/22/2016

OffCite, the digital home of the Rice Design Alliance, examine how the architecture of The Dunlavy allows visitors to experience Buffalo Bayou Park in different ways.  

In Houston, an Underground Cistern Is a New Temple for Art
Kriston Capps, CityLab, 09/13/2016

The Cistern is the latest in a national trend of turning aging civic infrastructure into destinations. 

AIA Houston names 2016 Design Award winners
Olivia Pulsinelli, Houston Business Journal, 08/29/2016

The built architecture of Buffalo Bayou Park and The Cistern received 2016 Design Awards from AIA Houston.  

Paradise under the expressway
Karrie Jacobs, Curbed, 08/02/2016

Both Buffalo Bayou Park and The Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park were cited as key elements of urban development in areas not previously considered for civic use. 

Urban Parks: From Dumping Grounds to Centers of Energy
Charles A. Birnbaum, The Huffington Post, 06/27/2016

Buffalo Bayou Park was cited as one of the top urban park destinations in the US by the CEO of the Cultural Landscape Foundation. 

Houston's Picturesque Underground Cistern Has Opened to the Public
Sean Breslin, The Weather Channel, 05/24/2016

The Weather Channel explains why the rediscovered - and preserved - The Cistern will put Houston on the map. 

Houston Opens Up Its Huge "Underground Cathedral" to Visitors
Jason Daley, The Smithsonian, 05/23/2016
The Cistern has caught the attention of the Smithsonian, and the writer for the magazine digs into the concepts and history behind the it.

Underneath Houston is a remarkable landmark, and now you can visit
Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times, 05/20/2016

Word of the Cistern has spread to the West Coast and the LA Times Travel writer explains why it's worth crossing the country for a visit. 

Tour of Cistern becomes ultimate underground movement
St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle, 05/15/2016

A reporter analyzes the reason for the sold-out success of The Cistern, the last built project in Buffalo Bayou Park to open to the public. 

Buffalo Bayou Park's spanking new Water Works the coolest open air venue in town
Shelby Hodge, CultureMap, 05/13/2016

CultureMap, the arbiters of all things stylish, deem Water Works the place to hold special events. 

Explore the Long-Buried Cistern
Roxanna Asgarian, Houstonia Magazine, 05/12/2016

What to expect on your visit to the Cistern and how it came to be. 

Revamped Buffalo Bayou Park cistern, a moody underground retreat, opens to public
Heather Staible, CultureMap Houston, 05/10/2016

How the Cistern came to be repurposed. 

Houston’s Magical Cistern Opens to the Public. And to Artists.
Paula Newton, Glasstire, 05/09/2016

What the Cistern could someday function as.

Houston's Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern to open to the public
Houston Chronicle, 05/08/2016

Videos of the Cistern and interviews with the architect who saw its possibilities. 

A sacred space under a rare hill
Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle, 05/07/2016

Popular local columnist who examines influences on Houston's way of life promises a unique experience the following week when The Cistern opens to the public. 

Best City Park Winners: 2016 10Best Readers' Choice Awards
USA Today, 05/01/2016
Shortly after its grand opening, Buffalo Bayou Park was voted to be one of the top five city parks in the US by readers. 

AN Best of 2015 Award: Buffalo Bayou Park
The Architect's Newspaper, 12/15/2015

Buffalo Bayou Park, for which Page designed the built structures, was selected as Best of Urban Design Winner in the Architect’s Newspaper annual juried design awards.

Houston Goes Global With New World-Class Parks And Bayous
Scott Beyer, Forbes, 11/19/2015

Forbes points out that Houston is growing faster than the perception of it by outsiders and partially credits Buffalo Bayou Park, which they call "urban America’s latest grand-scale downtown waterfront reclamation project, with the potential to become Houston’s de facto central park."

Houston's New Buffalo Bayou Park Reimagines Urban Waterfront
Patrick Sisson, Curbed, 11/11/2015

Curbed takes an extensive look at the history of Buffalo Bayou Park and identifies the elements that make it so successful. 

An Attack of Houston Envy, and I'm Afraid It May Be the Neuro-Invasive Kind
Jim Schutze, Dallas Observer, 10/13/2015

A former Houston Chronicle reporter recalls when Dallas was admired for its vision for the Trinity River and the current re-imagining of Buffalo Bayou Park had barely begun - twenty years ago. Today, the Trinity River project is still a concept while Buffalo Bayou Park has been successfully completed and has already changed how people view the city's urban greenspace. 

Buffalo Bayou Park: Where Houston Begins
KHOU-TV, 10/27/2015
Buffalo Bayou Park includes the spot where Houston was founded in 1836. Today, the park is an urban crown jewel linking miles of hike and bike trails with downtown Houston. Watch the 22-minute documentary to learn more. 

Integrating Architecture Into Buffalo Bayou Park
Page, 10/06/2015
As the architect for the primary structures in the 160-acre park, Page sited them in places where there is intensification of activity. These architectural elements were designed to create places of focus, while employing consistent materials to establish a unifying design vocabulary.

Rediscovering The Cistern
Page, 09/25/2015
The “Cistern” is the recently rediscovered underground reservoir which was built in 1927 to supply water to the city of Houston. It is one of the key visitor features of the newly updated Buffalo Bayou Park. 

Buffalo Bayou Park Is Getting Ready to Open
Dianna Wray, Houston Press, 09/15/2015
Houston Press provides background on how the Buffalo Bayou Park renovations began and shares details around some of the key elements such as Lost Lake. The article includes quotes from key members of the project team, including park leadership. 

Big Improvements Coming to Buffalo Bayou Park
Doug Miller, KHOU-TV, 09/14/2015

Buffalo Bayou Park has undergone a $58 million makeover to improve the gateway to downtown Houston. The grand opening on October 3 is a formal celebration for project teams and visitors alike as the park has remained open during reconstruction and key elements will be completed in 2016. Watch a video with the lead landscape and design architects and see the progress.

Buffalo Bayou Park Nears Grand Reopening
Houston Public Media, 09/14/2015

Extensive flooding over Memorial Day weekend delayed the grand opening of Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston's newest 'destination'. Both the lead landscape and design architects for the park, Scott McCready of SWA and Larry Speck of Page, explained in an interview during an advance Media Day event that it was actually an opportunity to prove their designs were successful. 

Renovations Turn Buffalo Bayou Park into Good Time Destination
CW39 Newsfix, 07/09/2015

Buffalo Bayou Partnership raised $58 million revitalize Buffalo Bayou into a major destination for Houston. The plans to transform the area into a park include multi-use trails, a dog park, and two buildings and two pavilions with visitor centers, private event space and kayak rentals.

Finding Buffalo Bayou's Lost Lake
Swamplot, 06/30/2015

Swamplot, a local real estate blog with a national following, has published an update and several pictures on the construction progress of The Dunlavy, a building overlooking Lost Lake, which features a morning glory, a bell-mouth spillway that diverts overflow water.

Testing The Waters: Update on Buffalo Bayou Park
Pagethink.com News, 05/29/2015

Page Senior Associate Melanie Starman Bash provides an update on how Buffalo Bayou's buildings, which were under construction at the time, fared during a heavy flood event in Houston. 

Best Urban Trails Winners: 2015 10Best Readers' Choice Awards
USA Today, 05/01/2015
Even though Buffalo Bayou Park's grand opening is still weeks away, it is already well-known and appreciated enough to be ranked #4 on a national list by readers. 

Inspiring Others Through Design: Buffalo Bayou
Dallas Morning News, 03/02/2015

Architecture critic Mark Lamster of the Dallas Morning News describes Buffalo Bayou Park as a successful example of transforming the flood plain of a neglected urban waterway into a grand public park - an example from which he says Dallas can learn.

New Restaurant to Open in Page-Designed Building in Buffalo Bayou Park
Houston Business Journal, 07/28/14

Charles Clark and partner Grant Cooper, well known for their restaurants Ibiza, Brasserie 19 and Coppa Osteria, announced plans to open The Dunlavy in Buffalo Bayou Park. It will be housed in the Page-designed building in the Lost Lake area of the park.

On the Bayou
Texas Architect, 01/31/2014

An article in Texas Architect focuses on two projects currently being undertaken by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) in Houston to transform portions of Buffalo Bayou. The design of one of the projects, Buffalo Bayou Park, restores the natural landscape which was adversely affected by the channelization of the bayou six decades ago.

What should 'accidental cathedral' become?
Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle, 08/16/2013

A historical discovery underneath Buffalo Bayou Park has potential to become something very interesting.