Houston Park May See Big Money From National Award

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People love Houston for its cheap cost of living, ample outdoor parks, and knowledge of the proper response to "The stars at night are big and bright." Today, the world celebrates the second of Houston's lures.

Two local parks have been named finalists for the 2011 Urban Land Institute Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award, a prize given to the urban park that best revitalized the community around it. Discovery Green downtown and the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University are two of five finalists (others are in Portland and St. Louis.) The creator of the winning park will receive $10,000 - green that will hopefully go toward the production of more green.

Susanne Theis, program director at Discovery Green, says the description of the award fits the park perfectly. "The park has helped to spur all kids of development around us: a new hotel, the first time that a new residence has been built, and Hess Tower -- I'm looking at it right now from my window -- is getting ready to open," Theis said. "All of that was done after Discovery Green was announced." If they won, she said, the prize money would go toward the 400 free events that the park puts on each year.

The Brochstein Pavilion revitalized a different population: college students. According to the ULI's press release:

Formerly an underutilized and neglected quad at Rice University, the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion has created a new student center and social hub on campus. The airy pavilion is capped by a broad trellis and surrounded by elm tree groves, providing shade for its surrounding seating areas and winding footpaths.

Rice University wasn't available to comment at press time, so we'll assume that the prize money would go toward further enrichment there as well.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner in mid-May.

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