The Regent Square Redevelopment is designed to become the center of a dynamic new neighborhood within the evolving district south of Houston’s Allen Parkway. In a city often noted for its physical expanse, network of freeways, and glass and steel towers, Regent Square will provide the counterpoint: intimate scale, a walkable environment, well defined outdoor spaces, buildings that utilize more traditional materials and reference more familiar architectural forms. Tree lined streets of shop fronts, cafes, and restaurants will provide a memorable context for a significant mixed-use neighborhood that will ultimately be home to over two thousand residents. The project’s first phase will accommodate 230,000 SF of retail and restaurant uses, 740 residential units, 60,000 SF of office space, and a 200 room hotel. Later phases will add another 100,000 SF of commercial uses and an additional 1,000 residential units.
Connecting to Larger Neighborhood
The design for Regent Square is based upon a carefully considered master plan that links the project’s 24-acre, four-block site. Three existing streets, Allen Parkway, West Dallas Avenue and Dunlavy Street define the principal edges of the development and provide the key linkages west to River Oaks, east to downtown, and south to the West Gray Street and Westheimer Road commercial corridors. The master plan establishes two interior streets that both subdivide and knit together the four-block parcel. A diagonal, north-south street, linking Allen Parkway with West Clay Avenue, will define a central promenade of shops and restaurants. To the north, the angle of this street opens up views into the project from Allen Parkway and creates a small, triangular park that buffers pedestrians from the latter street’s fast moving traffic. At its southern terminus, this street will provide a key connection to Woodhead Street and the River Oaks Shopping Center located one-half a block to the south, thus encouraging pedestrian activity beyond the confines of the project. East to west connection is established with a second interior street that roughly parallels West Dallas Avenue. The shifting alignment of this street accommodates the irregular shapes of the parcels on three of the four blocks while creating a series of terminated vistas that will be accentuated with varying architectural treatments at building corners.
Promoting Pedestrian Activity
In addition to creating a place that will be highly integrated with the surrounding community, the master plan establishes a network of streets and squares that promote pedestrian activity. Street widths have been established that allow for ease of vehicular movement, but at slower speeds. Sidewalk areas will be designed to support a multitude of uses – window shopping, strolling, outdoor cafes, and people watching. Generously sized street trees will provide shade, color, and act to soften Regent Square vibrant urban environment. A public square fronting onto West Dallas Avenue is located at the intersection of the two interior streets. Buildings facing the square increase in height from four stories, to eight stories, reinforcing the importance of this space as the project’s primary public gathering space. The square is envisioned as having a mix of shaded areas for sitting, relaxing, and reading, along with open areas more suitable to informal public gatherings and special events. The inclusion of sculpture or water elements will provide further identify and focus to the square. Semi-public outdoor space is provided one-level above the street within a series of courtyards which serve the residents of Regent Square. These quiet, landscape spaces will be designed to support both passive and active resident-oriented activities.
Blending Traditional & Contemporary
Consistent with the goal of creating a neighborhood, individual building designs will be varied, drawing upon more traditional architectural styles. Several sites have been identified for buildings that will employ more contemporary expressions. In order to foster a pedestrian-friendly environment, buildings will have shop windows and lobby entrances fronting directly onto the sidewalk. Exterior building materials will consist of brick, stone, stucco, and cast stone. Bays, oriel windows, corner turrets, and show windows will be variously employed to articulate the massing of each building. Cornice elements, pilasters, band courses, window surrounds, balconies, canopies, awnings and signage will be used to create the fine layer of detail characteristic of traditional, pedestrian oriented urban environments.