Discovery Green at night. You canʼt see the park for all the lights and buildings, which is mostly true durng the day, as well. There is a trend in modern park design to over-build in order to make a single park everything for everybody. The result is that very often, as in the case of Discovery Green, it ceases to be a park and is transformed into a playground for adults.
A Pixar-themed miniature golf course is now squatting on one of the few green parcels of Discovery Green. Why? Presumably in the name of holy, sacred “programming.”
Iʼve been to a lot of municipal meetings where the people who run parks talk about how they run them. Invariably they talk about how the park should be “programmed.” These days they also call it “activation.” Same meaningless buzzword. Different generation.
Discovery Green is already over-programmed. There's webcams, movie nights, concerts, restaurants, promenades, temporary ice rinks, a model boat basin, a splash pad, a playground, a climbing hill, a pond, a parking garage, a wall of fame, a jogging trail, multiple seating platforms, a solar array, a shuffleboard court, chess tables, picnic tables, a dog park, bocce courts, a bandstand, art installations, a giant mister, a putting green, flea markets, a library, reading rooms, and probably many other things I havenʼt stumbled across yet.
Discovery Green should pick a couple of things and do them well, rather than shoehorn 30 different things into less than a dozen acres poorly. Let another park have some of the action. Itʼs not like most of Houston doesnʼt need more parks.
More to the point — whatʼs wrong with a park being a park? Whatʼs wrong with trees and grass and flowers and birds? Is there no room anymore for rest, contemplation, and refuge? Urban parks were invented to give people a break from city life. But most new parks are built for engagement, experience, and social media — All of the things for which parks should be an antidote, not a vector.