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Woodland Park Woodland Park is the second oldest public park in Houston. It was established in 1903 by The Houston Electric Company as Highland Park, predating the adjacent Woodland Heights subdivision by four years. The park was conveyed to the city in 1911 and renamed Woodland Park in 1914. Although the grounds are well-maintained, the Woodland Park Community Center, built in 1947, requires significant repairs and improvements. The Woodland Heights Civic Association committed proceeds from its Centennial Celebration events to enhance this important community resource, and wishes to restore the exterior of the historic community center to its original condition and improve the interior so that it will be used by a greater cross section of the community. The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Houston Parks Board are joining with The Woodland Heights Civic Association to help renovate this significant historic resource.

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Destination Woodland Woodland is a green space for Houstonians to have fun with family and friends, but is currently under utilized. Being so close to the heart of the city the park can once again become a major destination for Houstonians, and a source of pride for residence in Woodland Heights. From street level Woodland looks nice, but other then the old trees it looks like most other parks in Houston. The majority of activity at Woodland appears to happen around the recreation center. Woodland has a large playground, but the metal and plastic feel out of place in such a natural park. Woodland needs a play area closer to the bayou and woods. An in between place can get visitors close enough to the woods that they will wonder into them, but can also acts as a resting place for people who come out of the woods. This in between area needs to feel intimate and removed from the recreation area, yet not be so far away that it is inconvenient to visit. The new area should be made out of natural materials that do not impose on the environment, so for reference I looked at natural parks, and materials that would fit comfortably into Woodland Park. Since children love climbing I also wanted to integrate a climbing net into the final design.

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Placement The Friends of Woodland Park representatives said they would like to see kids playing in the trees. However I didn’t want to create a sculpture that imposed on the woods, so proximity to the parks natural area was important. Between the Live Oak Lawn and the Beaver Pond is a small area that would work best as an in between space because it is not so far into the park that it’s an inconvenient journey, but is separated from the main recreation area. This area is also near the Beaver Pond overlook, the parks most beautiful view. Placing a play area on the back side of the park near the Beaver Pond overlook will give visitors a natural in between space to play. This space will draw them into the woods, and provide a place to rest when they exit the woods.

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Development The structure started as a typographic sculpture. I wanted the forms to be functional so I began to turn the shapes of the letters into benches and slides in a contained box. The early drawings of the forms are on the left, so you can see how they progressed into functional objects. After that I separated the letters into individual units. The typeface I chose for the final structure, Bernhard Fashion was designed in 1929. Bernhard Fashion was created for the American Type Founders. It bespeaks the spirit of the roaring ’20s.

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Play Structure Bernhard Fashion‘s thin geometric capital letters with large curves and counter forms can be built in three dimensions using wooden two by fours or four by fours. The structure can be held together with screws and bolts. The support beams will be held in place by extending the post into post holes that are then filled with a cement. The P which forms a slide will need to be covered with a single sheet of bent aluminum or steel to become a functional slide. The wooden L acts as a latter to the top of the slide as well as a bench. Extending from the Y to the bottom of the A is a nylon rope net. Steel ties will hold the net together were the ropes cross so children can climb on it safely. The functionality of the form encourages interaction and play elevating the structure beyond a typographic sculpture. This in between area will not impose on the environment, and is made of natural materials that will look beautiful in Woodland Park.

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Design; Steven Baptiste


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Play at Woodland Park