Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Texas is unlike any state in the United States...

I noticed that the Texan society was not only unique, but also one that is also rather diverse. Texas has a colourful history filled with oil money and powerful leaders. The automobile has been extremely influential in the form of Texan cities and regions. As we saw in Portland, the City government has the majority of the power in planning and does not necessarily need to cooperate with the rest of the state. Texas’ initial growth was a result of developers who had incredible amounts of money and more land than they knew what to do with. It is easy to see the effects of this period on the outer zones of any city. Texas’ lack of mandatory zoning is also a contributing factor to the haphazard development but can also serve as an opportunity to experimentation and innovation.

The bold and extravagant Texan culture is reflected in the architecture, land use, roads and planning of Texan cities. At first glance planning as we know it seems to be few and far between with only building codes, community action and health and safety precautions in place to prevent planning disasters. Yet I found urban centres were mostly logical and accessible and had facilities for numerous transit options. Texan cities had very distinctive districts which were identifiable by features as small as the width of the footpath. 

Many of the newer development projects such as the 2nd street district in Houston were extremely successful in creating a destination and a sense of place. Even though public spaces exist and work in Texas, there was an absence of this sense of place in parks. Yet as we saw, Discovery Green in Houston and Memorial Park in Houston seek to rectify this. This may be true for sprawling highway commercial strips on the fringe of cities

Tess Coates