The Houston Public Central Library in downtown was always a wonderful modern facility with great windows and views in a modern multi-story brick building with escalators. That is a long way from the one where I grew up. But time past and it needed to be updated–particularly to serve the internet connected world. Along with the inside improvements the outside plaza area was overhauled.
The photos here (click for a larger view) shows what was done with the standard gray concrete plaza. The new bold colors are beginning to be less staggering to me and I will get over thinking the large very plain shade structures are just too plain. This playground appearance between the very modern Central Library and the very elegant Julia Ideson Library–just behind the oaks–is the typical strong contrast often found in Houston.
I do like the concept of the words cast in shadows on the pavement below when the sun is shinning. There is something artistic about the shadows. It appears to me that the architect wanted to create something to make children feel like it is a playful place and fun to be there. If the colors accomplish that and more children come then it is a great design.
As you can see the shade structures are fabricated steel painted black. Surely the simple framework and dark color is to try to make them less visible. I wish they had more of the “garden trellis” look complimenting the large live oaks and the trees we planted along the streets.
I do acknowledge that the colorful look has a strong place-making value as there is nowhere else in downtown like it.