Houston Matters

Using Children’s Photographs to Beautify Houston Freeways

If you’ve driven the Southwest Freeway (aka US 59, aka I-69) south of downtown recently, maybe you’ve noticed a few overpasses are suddenly more colorful. The chain-link fences lining several overpasses have been threaded with bright colorful strips that together create an abstract tapestry. It’s part of a highway beautification project from Houston First Corporation, […]

If you’ve driven the Southwest Freeway (aka US 59, aka I-69) south of downtown recently, maybe you’ve noticed a few overpasses are suddenly more colorful. The chain-link fences lining several overpasses have been threaded with bright colorful strips that together create an abstract tapestry.

It’s part of a highway beautification project from Houston First Corporation, which held a competition for design firms to come up with something to beautify the often drab — and sometimes bleak — freeway landscape.

The local landscape and architectural firm SWA Group won the competition. They’re the same ones who designed the newly improved Buffalo Bayou Park and created the pedestrian plaza in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The group had the task of making something that wasn’t too distracting for drivers but also improved the look and feel of the roadway. They had numerous children take photos of Houston scenery and chose a few of their favorites. Then, they used Photoshop to highly pixelate the photos and printed them onto plastic strips to make these collages of sorts.

Michael Hagerty talks with Natalia Beard, principal with SWA Group, about the project.


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