Discovery Green is a public urban park in Downtown Houston, Texas, United States. Opened in 2008, Discovery Green 11.78-acre (47,700 m2) is located on Avenida de las Americas across from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel, adjacent to Toyota Center. The park includes a lake, bandstands and venues for public performances, two dog runs, a children's area and multiple recreational areas. The park was principally designed by the landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates.
The first event held at the park was Houston Mayor Bill White's 2008 inauguration. The park officially opened to the public on April 13, 2008. It is estimated that almost a quarter-million people visited the park between opening day and June 30, 2008. The estimates were made by comparing the size of crowds with the Houston Police Department's estimate of 30,000 people who went to the park on opening day.
The City of Houston acquired a portion of the land in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center in 2002. When the rest of the property went up for sale, a group of philanthropists led by Maconda Brown O’Connor of the Brown Foundation, and Nancy G. Kinder of the Kinder Foundation approached then-Mayor Bill White with their idea of turning the space into an urban park. The Mayor agreedand became a strong advocate of a public-private partnership was developed for the $125 million project. Several other philanthropic foundations joined the effort, including the Wortham Foundation and the Houston Endowment, Inc.
The City of Houston purchased the remainder of the land in 2004 and created the framework for the park’s construction and operations, including the role of the new organization, Discovery Green Conservancy, incorporated in 2004.
When the Houston City Council approved the contracts to provide partial funding and support to the park, it also mandated that the “public at large” be engaged in the design and development of the park. With the guidance of Project for Public Spaces, the Conservancy mounted the large public meetings and smaller focus groups to solicit public feedback. This feedback became the basis for the park’s programming.
Hargreaves Associates, an internationally renowned landscape architecture firm based in San Francisco, oversaw the design effort. Page formerly PageSoutherlandPage designed the park's architecture and Larry Speck was their lead architect. Lauren Griffith Associates. provided landscape and horticultural design services. Artists Margo Sawyer and Doug Hollis were integral members of the design team and produced three works of art for the park. A large team of local and international engineers and specialists supported the core design team. Elmore Public Relations was contracted for marketing and public relations.
The park earned LEED certification in October 2009.
The Kinder Foundation provided $10 million to help fund the $125 million project.
The Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, best known as the creators of Cafe Annie, operates two restaurants on site. The Grove serves lunch and dinner in a "signature restaurant" setting, while The Lake House offers casual fare.
On occasions Discovery Green has an ice skating rink.
Discovery Green offers a variety of programming throughout the year. All events at the park are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Discovery Green presents Houston's performing, literary and visual art in its Art Series. Discovery Green's Entertainment Series offers movies, Extreme Wii competitions, and concerts by musicians that present a variety of Gulf Coast and Central Texas sounds. The Healthy Living in the Park series offers a weekly urban market and exercise classes such as Pilates, Yoga, Parkour and Zumba as well as a Hip2BFit exercise class just for kids. The Families & Children Series offers hands-on workshops and activities suitable for children and their parents.
On weekends, families can visit the park, put their pets in one of two dog runs and watch their kids play on the playground while they discard their newspapers and cans into recycling bins.