Located in the heart of Houston’s premier Theater District, the new Lynn Wyatt Square (formerly Jones Plaza) creates a gateway to Houston’s performing arts and connects to the city’s growing open-space network.
As part of Houston First Corporation’s efforts to promote Houston as one of the great cities of the world with renowned convention, arts, and entertainment venues, Lynn Wyatt Square creates an oasis enhancing downtown life for residents and visitors. The redesigned green space will provide respite to pedestrians and office-workers, host performances and community events, and create a lively ‘center stage’ for the multiple adjacent theaters.
The one-and-a-half-acre project, using a placemaking strategy known as Urban Choreography, borrows graceful curving and bending forms inspired by the performing arts. Wyatt Square features five distinct gathering spaces filled with greenery, gardens, an event lawn, water features and open-air performance venues.
The new design recreates the formerly isolated plaza as an open, airy gateway for all to experience Houston’s nationally recognized performing arts in a comfortable environment filled with greenery and shady trees. Lynn Wyatt Square is now easily accessible from all sides and promotes the surrounding arts facilities with space for both programmed and impromptu performances.
The project scope included the design and construction of a new restaurant building. The design of the two-story restaurant building includes an intricate tile roof – visible from the surrounding high rises – on top of heavy timber construction oriented to address both the park and the street. The building seamlessly integrates into the park using natural materials and a structural system expressing rhythmic movement. Updates to the garage below the Square accommodate new infrastructure and provide direct ADA access to the square and restaurant. These changes include the relocation of vents, the addition of an elevator, and a pump room to serve the square’s water feature above.
I’m a believer in the adage that a thriving arts culture is the cornerstone of a prosperous city. And we are indeed. The transformation of this public space will not only serve as a cornerstone for downtown, but a dynamic epicenter of Houston’s cultural footprint.
After Hurricane Harvey devastated downtown Houston in 2017, flood mitigation of the project site and coordination with other mitigation projects downtown was a top priority. Our team’s design includes reinforced flood doors, emergency gates at all points of entry into the garage and raises the elevation of the site and first floor of the building above the new flood line even while creating accessible routes at each corner. These changes comply with Houston’s new 500-year flood elevation.
HarrisonKornberg is Architect of Record / Executive Architect for this project with design collaboration from RIOS, a leading international landscape and urban planning firm. The new Lynn Wyatt Square for the Performing Arts was named winner of a 2021 AIA Houston Design Award, honoring the project’s quality of design, attention to detail, innovative program, sustainability, and technique.