Design thinking

Rehabilitated Houston park gains global recognition

Levy Park is one of only two parks in the world to receive the recent honor. Photo by Midway Companies

A recently redesigned Upper Kirby park has bloomed to international recognition, thanks to a high-profile award.

Levy Park has been selected as one of the winners of this year's prestigious Urban Land Institute's Urban Open Space Award. The award recognizes outstanding examples of successful large-scale and small-scale public spaces that have socially enriched and revitalized the economy of their surrounding communities, according to a statement.

The revitalized, six-acre Upper Kirby gem was recently named a winner at the 2018 ULI Fall Meeting in Boston. The only other park in the world to receive the Urban Space Award is Madrid Río Park in Madrid, Spain. The winners were selected from a collection of entries representing urban areas from across the globe.

"The jury found Levy Park to be a dynamic public-private partnership that was unique in how it was structured," says ULI trustee and jury chairman Stuart I. Ackerberg. The park is architecturally very strong and executed extremely well, and it provides appealing programming and amenities that benefit the entire Houston community."

While landscape architecture and urban design were factors in the judging process, the jury selected finalists based on a broader set of criteria, including overall project performance and how each impacted or revived the surrounding areas, according to the release. Levy Park's redesign was led by OJB Landscape Architecture.

Once home to an average of 50 visitors a week, Levy Park has evolved into a popular Inner Loop destination that welcomes an estimated 7,000 weekly visitors who pack its dog park, community events, farmers market, and public gardens. The center has become a favorite for families who flock to the children's park, which offers interactive sculptures, fountains, and a 150-foot-long treehouse nestled among massive live oaks.

The park has been lauded for fostering a sense of community through performances, workshops, movie nights, and exercise programs. Praise also flows for its gardens, which harness harvest and reuse stormwater.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

this one's for the ladies

Texas named a top state for women-led startups

A new report finds that the Lone Star State is ideal for female entrepreneurs. Photo via Getty Images

Who runs the world? According to Merchant Maverick's inaugural Best States for "Women-Led Startups'' study, Texas is a great place for women to be in charge.

The Lone Star state cracked the top 10 on the list, earning a No. 6 spot according to the small business reviews and financial services company, which based the study on eight key statistics about this growing segment of the economy. Colorado (at No. 1), Washington, Virginia, Florida, and Montana were the only states to beat out Texas on the rankings—leading the Merchant Maverick team to conclude that "the part of the country that lies west of the Mississippi is great for startups led by women entrepreneurs."

Women-led startups in Texas received $365 billion in VC funding in the last five years, the report found. This is the seventh largest total among U.S. states. Too, about 20 percent of Texans are employed at woman-led firms, which is the fifth highest percentage among states. Roughly 35 percent of employers in Texas are led by women.

A few other key findings that work in female founders' favor: The startup survival rate in Texas is nearly 80 percent. And a lack of state income tax "doesn't hurt either," the report says.

Still there are shortcomings. On a per capita basis, only 1.27 percent of Texas women run their own business. The average income for self-employed women is also relatively low ranking among states, coming in around $55,907 and landing at 31st among others.

This is not the first time Texas has been lauded as a land of opportunity for women entrepreneurs. A 2019 study named it the best state for business opportunities for women. Houston too has proven to support success for the demographic. The Bayou City was named in separate studies a best city for female entrepreneurs to start a business and to see it grow.

Still, as many findings have concluded, the realities of the pandemic loom for all startups and small business owners. The Merchant Maverick study was careful to add: "The pandemic has changed the economic landscape over the past year, and often for the worse.

"This means that not every metric may be able to accurately gauge how a state might fare amidst the pandemic," the report continues. "To help factor in COVID's impact, we included some metrics that take 2020 into account, but it will be a while until we get a full picture of the pandemic's devastation.""

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