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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Cougars collaborate in local play park redesign


The Community Design Research Center transformed Magnolia Park’s DeZavala Park with a $1,000 grant from The Department of Health and Human Services. Children can now play classic schoolyard games and learn about the neighborhood’s history. | Courtesy of Susan Rogers

As a part of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, the Community Design Resource Center underwent its third neighborhood design outreach project in collaboration with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services to develop an elementary school outdoor play area.

With a $1,000 grant from the city’s DHHS, the CDRC’s Healthy Community Design effort worked hand-in-hand with the city’s Community Transformation Initiative to build the Play Zone, or “Zona de Juego,” at the DeZavala Park in Magnolia Park, directly across from DeZavala Elementary School. CDRC Director Susan Rogers decided how to put the funds to good use.

“This action project, the Zona de Juego, came out of meetings with the Civic Club and local residents,” Rogers said.

Efforts in construction of the zone involved collaboration from the CDRC’s staff, the Pineview Place Civic Club, city officials and locals from the community. The painted timeline depicting the neighborhood’s history and games, like foursquare, hopscotch, connect the dots and tick-tack-toe, extends 600 feet around the park. Rose Lee, a graduate student of architecture and CDRC staff member, joined hands with those involved in the transformation to sow a seed for the future.

“I’ve always wanted to really make a difference in the community,” Lee said. “The CDRC works directly with not only the city but communities’ members.”

Aside from communicating with the community and city officials, work for the project included computer-aided architectural drafting, model making and rendering to show what the finished project would look like.

Ricardo Sepulveda, architecture senior and student research assistant at the CDRC, was grateful to use his knowledge in a practical way.

“It was a unique experience, because oftentimes in school, what we focus on never has any real effect,” Sepulveda said.

The CDRC has three more community projects on its to-do list. They include a new trail in Denver Harbor, an art project in collaboration with a high school in Sunnyside based on the school’s mascot, the Colts, and a pop-up library near a proposed bookstore in Fifth Ward.

“Each of the projects are specific to the neighborhood that they’re in,” Rogers said. “They intend to support healthy living through community design and celebrate the neighborhood. Showing how community design can impact the health of a neighborhood is an important goal of the CDRC.”

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