Urban Preserve, Houston, 1989

The Urban Preserve of Boulder is based on the “Urban Preserve,” first conceived and proposed for Houston, Texas in 1989 by The Art Guys in collaboration with architects Kirby Mears and Kim Schaefer.  The project was submitted for the “Freeway as Art” competition sponsored by Texas A&M University.  The concept received second prize.

Urban Preserve, 1989
The Art Guys, Kirby Mears, Kim Schaefer
proposal for the intersection of I-610 and I-45, Houston, Texas

“The Urban Preserve does not wish to convince anyone that the site as it exists is, in and of itself, art.  It candidly questions who must take the ultimate responsibility for the condition and existence of this system and other similar and dissimilar ones.”

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Panel 1 – Concept
The Urban Preserve is a proposal to restructure the intersection of Loop 610 and I-45 South into a system that is maintained, protected, and kept intact.  Focus is on the vernacular.  What remains is a system based on observation, inquiry, dialogue and discovery.

Panel 2 – Pathway
The path is a primary generator of one’s special experience in the Urban Preserve.  It defines the most accessible portions of the site and functions as a self-guided tour through the preserve.  In the design of the path, much consideration was given to safety and accessibility.
The Route engages one in the dynamism of the preserve, highlighting the soaring structural elements yet focusing on the components unique to this urban ecosystem.  The path thus activates this space in a new conceptual framework and celebrates the existing conditions.

Panel 3 – Visitors Center

Panel 4 – Camera Obscura


The Urban Preserve, Houston, 1989


“Interchange with art: Road to winning highway design contest is paved with creativity”
Ann Holmes, Houston Chronicle, March 25, 1989

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