Wetland Urbanism

The site for this project is the former headquarters of KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton. This deteriorating corporate campus stretches from downtown along the northern edge of Buffalo Bayou towards the Houston ship channel. The bayou is an obsolete shipping infrastructure engineered for efficiency at the expense of ecological and aesthetic quality. However, the neglected waterway has been reimagined as one of Houston’s most prized assets by the Bayou Greenway Parks initiative.

This project seeks to transform the voided KBR landscape into a near-town area and reestablish Buffalo Bayou as a natural amenity. Many years of disuse have allowed the KBR property to be reclaimed by an impressive overgrowth of native plant life; however, the soil has been inundated with industrial pollutants which prevent the complete restoration of local biodiversity.

The master plan is programmatically divided into a wetland park preserve to the south and a new residential neighborhood to the north. The two ecologies meet along a series of delaminating edges which form various infrastructural features, such as streets, linear towers, and retention ponds for drainage filtration. Several plant species are introduced throughout the site with the intention of cleaning the contaminated soil. The project furthermore maintains a wide margin for wetland area by increasing density at the city edge. Environmentally, high-density development is seen as a way of reversing suburban sprawl for a more energy conscious future.

Professor: Christopher Hight