Historic Emancipation Park
City of Houston
Project size: 10 acres
Emancipation Park, in Houston’s historic Third Ward neighborhood, is a 10-acre park purchased by four former slaves in 1872. It originally served as a location to celebrate Juneteenth, the June 19, 1865, emancipation of African Americans in Texas. Until the 1950s, it was the only public park and swimming pool in Houston open to African Americans. The new Emancipation Park will be an interwoven tapestry of buildings and landscape that celebrates the park’s rich history while embracing the present and future of its community. The 10-acre project includes refurbished landscapes and playgrounds, the renovation of its two historic buildings, and the addition of a new building and plaza. Site design began with aggregating similar program elements to create various activity zones within the park. The old recreation center will be repurposed as a community center and the old pool house will be renovated and expanded. A new recreation center completes the quad to create a formal entry plaza.
The landscape of the new entry plaza stitches together the entrances of new and old buildings. Fronting the community center and flanked by the pool house and recreation center, the plaza texture flows around the community center and establishes a central promenade that in turn branches out to activate and connect the perimeter zones of the park, including a new playground and picnic shelters.