Culture / Newsy

Discovery Green’s New $2.3 Million Playground Opens — the Kids’ Fun is Back Downtown

Reimagined Wonderland Means New Equipment, Better Lighting for Night Play — and Even More Trees

BY // 03.22.21
photography (Photo by Sheila Wright, Courtesy of Discovery)

Grab the kids and set your GPS for Discovery Green, particularly if you want to be among the first to experience the renovated John P. McGovern Playground. The $2.3 million playground area in the northwest corner of 12-acre downtown park officially opened for kids of all ages on Monday.

Youngsters are now invited to run, jump, climb, slide and bounce across the colorful terrain as the revamped play space has areas targeted to a variety of ages. For those aged 2 to 5, the new Mendez Play Space will help burn off that unbridled energy of the youngest of kiddos thanks to more than a dozen pieces of contemporary play equipment that puts the old notion of jungle gyms to shame.

Think equipment that encourages fitness and creativity. Just for fun, there is even a kid-friendly hill for romping.

For children ages 5 to 12, there is a rope course just challenging enough to improve strength and agility. This addition is near the wildly popular interactive Gateway Fountain.

And most importantly for any Houston park — there are trees. Landscape architect Lauren Griffith Associates oversaw execution of greenery that included the addition of 31 trees at Discovery Green. The Hargreaves Jones Associates-designed upgrade doubles the amount of organized play space in the park while improving energy-efficient lighting for safer evening play. Gandy Lighting Design handled the latter.

John P. McGovern Playground, Mendez Play Space_Photo by Sheila Wright, Courtesy of Discovery Green (2)
Discovery Green’s McGovern Playground features special play ares for the youngest youngsters and those aged 5 to 12. (Photo by (Photo by Sheila Wright, Courtesy of Discovery))

With 15 million visits made to the park since its opening in 2008, the upgrade was a necessary $2.3 million playground improvement. As visits grow, the need for improvements become apparent. Thus, the playground is part the Discovery Green Conservancy‘s $13.3 million park-wide master plan improvement project.

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As the conservancy noted in announcing the park, “The newly designed playground and other master plan improvements — including expanded restrooms that rolled out in May 2018 and the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club Allée that opened in August 2020 — address the needs of the growing population of people who live, work and play downtown while positioning the park to meet the demands of the future.”

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