Designing for Nature

Buffalo Bayou showcased its new look this weekend. There’s something about the modern design that produces an odd mix of emotions. You want to love it because it’s modern. But like modern homes, it lacks warmth and community. The Riverwalk in San Antonio bridges that gap brilliantly and still offers plenty of non-touristy trails. Buffalo Bayou can’t be The Riverwalk … but it could go a little more in that direction. As it stands today, it’s pretty stark.

The new walking-trails deliver a quiet, eerie, uneasy stroll through a land-of-the-lost motif. Sudden severe structures rise right out of the Bayou and reach for the sky. Tiny people way up on the bridge look freaky. There are no lovers lanes in this new dystopia. Maybe that’s good. But Bird Watchers…? A dream come true. And there’s a brilliant Dog Park where dogs run free and splash each other in the world’s biggest bath tub. It’s wonderful. There are successes here for sure.

South Bridge Near Dunlavy Center

The Kitchen at The Dunlavy

Like “The Kitchen at The Dunlavy.” In spite of its cold steel and polished concrete it has a strange allure … and sometimes, a strange smell. It’s on the Bayou after all.

I can’t help wondering if the designers had it in mind that the built environment would impinge minimally upon the natural environment. If so, they succeeded and there’s something to said for that approach. But it’s not a happy design.

Buffalo Bayou October 3rd 2015

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