Monday, December 26, 2016

WaPo: "Houston reservoir reborn as public space, canvas for art"

Click on the link to read the entire Washington Post article:

Houston reservoir reborn as public space, canvas for art

Houston — Houston’s first underground drinking water reservoir — a decades-old collection of more than 200 concrete columns inside a cavernous space near downtown — had been unused for years and was set for demolition when a nonprofit group reimagined it as something new: a public space.
The 87,500-square-foot-space, dubbed the “Cistern” and reminiscent of ancient European water reservoirs, opened its doors to visitors in May. Then earlier this month, the structure’s darkened pillars and walls became the canvas for a piece of modern art.

“Repurposing it for a contemporary audience is the perfect solution,” said Judy Nyquist, a board member with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, which incorporated the reservoir as part of a $58 million park renovation project.

It’s the latest example of efforts by U.S. cities — including Atlanta; Buffalo, New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. — to repurpose abandoned and dilapidated pieces of infrastructure as public spaces. Urban planners see the preservation of historic buildings and other structures as essential in creating the kinds of communities people want to live in, said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation.


  1. A less corrupt government would be thrilled to offer it's residents and visitors a large open central park at McMillan, a National Historic Site. But the disgrace, called the DC government, colludes with mega development conglomerate VMP, to steal from the people of DC and the nation, the enlightened work of turn of the century engineers and landscape artists, brought to DC by Senator James McMillan, Cities Beautiful Movement.
    They planned an "emerald Necklace" of parks and green space largely realized in upper NW, but the DC govt. has never cared for the interests of the predominantly African-American central and NE sections of the city. The site is protected by Covenants in the deed, but literally relegated from DC memory and blocked from public access since 1941. No other DC park is planned to be sectioned up like a Thanksgiving Turkey and split between well connected developers, leaving a small McPark, a lawn in front of condos and a super market.
    Parks are whole unitary places, geologic, historic, stream valley and wooded trails, and in walking distance to every home in upper NW. The graciousness of our city, its healthy environment enhanced by saving McMillan as a unitary open, green "great place" makes all the sense in the world. We can have numerous adaptive re-use like urban agriculture in the 20 acre cisterns, a Glen Echo arts/performance campus, a Wolf Trap. Bowser, Gray, McDuffie, Mendelson and the City Council have totally sold out to this development conglomerate. They have lined up their submissive dc agencies to be evaluator and regulator of their own boss, Deputy Mayor for "miserable" Planning, the business partner of this "monstrosity on Michigan Avenue". Time to fight these govt. corporatist sell out deals is right now, we can have our super markets, and with 20,000 new housing units being crammed in around McMillan, we need to save our park, like a decent govt. would have 30 years ago.

  2. To ram the McMillan development down our throats the DC govt. hired Jamie Fontaine PR firm to "neutralize opposition", a violation of the Constitutional right to "petition the govt. for redress of grievances". When exposed to Bowser, Mendelson , they have covered this up and Deputy Mayor Miller lied about his office paying for Fontaine!
    The ridiculous, and irrelevant "talking point" parroted by Bowser has been
    "it was never a park". But our Bloomingdale seniors loved going to "their beach", (as they had access to the reservoir like in NY Central Park) and called McMillan Park, "our paradise" enjoying an open windy green space before being shut out in 1941. Listen to this oral history by Ms. Ella, and work with Friends of McMillan and McMillan Coalition to fight the corrupt DC govt. in court.
    The high line in NY, and the cisterns in Houston were never a park. But those planners in these towns are enlightened enough to create recreation and art space not hand out our green space in massive corporate welfare abuse. Parks are economic development, with community amenities, and generate revenue to the city, which we support, we have a different vision.
    The High Line in NY was never a park, it was an elevated Railroad. They had the foresight to save it, and a fabulous success for NY.

    Bloomngdale elder Ms.Ella relates her childhood spent in the PARK, the children called McMillan "our beach".

  3. This site in Houston is about 2 acres. Seems to me that throughout the McMillan site plan there will be around 2 acres of preserved cell and more if you include the sand silos.