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Town Square Park - Baytown, Texas
Transforming a Derelict Site into An Urban Park

by Bryan Janhsen, RLA, Knudson LP


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The landscape architects at Knudson LP brought to life the vision of the city of Baytown, Texas to develop Town Square Park from a run-down site to a venue for family and community events. Two prefabricated buildings on site serve as a restroom and a concession area. A performance pavilion (Poligon) was included for musical and theatrical uses. The brick and concrete used for the pavilion tie it into the design motif of other features and structures within the park.


The concept for Baytown's first urban park/plaza was conceived of by the city administration and city council to convert city-owned derelict land in the historic downtown area into an attractive venue for family and community events and eventually to help draw businesses back to the downtown area. In light of that directive, the city of Baytown Parks and Recreation Department's staff envisioned a new park for events and recreational programming in the downtown area.

Preliminary concepts were developed in-house and presented to landscape architects at Knudson LP, who together with city staff, developed the schematic site plan. Landscape architect Bryan Janhsen, RLA, headed up the design work and developed construction plans and estimates, working with Midtown Engineers on the civil portion of the project. The project also included the redevelopment of one block of Texas Avenue and the development of the adjoining block of land into the Town Square urban park.

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The Central Plaza was designed to accommodate large programmed events such as farmer's markets and vendor fairs. The central focus of the plaza is a 25' tall, tiered cast iron fountain. The low seating walls, planters and a mixture of paving materials, including 'Cinnabar' bricks and Pavestone pavers, minimize the perceived scale of the plaza when events are not planned and the park functions in a more passive manner.


Construction began on the downtown plaza during August of 2015 and continued into 2016. The park, located at 213 West Texas Avenue, is the first public investment in the historic downtown business district. The final construction cost was approximately $2.2 million dollars.

The focal point of this attractive facility is a 25-foot multi-level fountain, surrounded by an open plaza of cast pavers in novel patterns juxtaposed against colored concrete bands. The whole plaza is enclosed with brick seat walls, raised landscape planters, grassy lawns and connecting walkways. A small amphitheater is centered in the south side of the park with great views and lawn seating from most locations within the park. The amphitheater columns and walls, the seat walls, the Town Square signs, and the brick fence columns are all accented with cast stone caps, cast stone features and brick cove features.

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Two curvilinear signs anchor both ends of the park at the street transitioning into the perimeter fencing. The Town Square lettering was sand blasted into the cast stone veneer.


Acting as bookends on the east and west sides of the park, two small but efficient buildings are available to the public during downtown events. Both buildings fit well into the park's architectural theme: they are roofed with green metal and trimmed out in colors that match other elements in the park. They were constructed off-site, then moved to the site after construction and clad in the same brick used throughout the project. One building serves as a restroom facility; the other serves as a small concession space and mechanical room.

Attractive historic replica lighting posts, benches and trash cans are found throughout the park, inviting users to sit and visit, even after dark. A black, wrought iron replica vertical fence, matching other elements in the landscape, encloses the park between uplit 5' tall brick columns.

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The Town Square Park project included the total reconstruction of the street as well. The new public realm includes concrete and paver walkways. Low ornamental fences with masonry columns provide an edge condition but also maintain transparency between the park and the street.


As a final touch, on the park's west end is a parking area for up to three food trucks to provide food and drink vending during special events in the park.

The city installs an ice skating rink around a 40 foot tall Christmas tree, opening up for skating right after Thanksgiving. The tree covers the plaza's signature fountain while it is decommissioned during the winter months.

With the addition of Town Square, the city's recreation division was able to add nearly 20 new and exciting events to its program offering during the first year of operation, with more planned in the future.

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Ogee, or S-shaped, features in the cast stone and cove-shaped bricks were included to provide a subtle architectural detail as a nod to the surrounding historical buildings.




As seen in LASN magazine, September 2017, Hardscapes.






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December 13, 2017, 11:51 pm PST

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