In 2019 Nelson Byrd Woltz was awarded the commission for an extensive, eleven-acre landscape design for the first Ismaili Center in the United States to be built in Houston, Texas. The Ismaili Center Houston, the seventh Ismaili Center worldwide, will build on the mission of the Ismaili community to advance pluralism, public understanding, and civic outreach in communities around the world. Through a design competition, NBW pursued and won the commission in partnership with Farshid Moussavi Architects and AKT II Engineers.
Through a process of looking at the specific qualities of the site, such as topography, hydrology and solar aspect, and drawing a parallel to relevant ecosystems across Texas, the landscape design for the Ismaili Center Houston speaks to the adaptability of the Islamic landscape tradition. Each garden terrace will be planted according to its position relative to the overall garden complex to reflect specific ecosystems of the region. In this way, it will rely on horticulture to ground it in the Texas environment while constructed elements, including reflecting pools, intimate gardens and formal terraces, draw inspiration from the Islamic precedents in Persian gardens and landscapes. This hybrid design approach reflects the adaptability of the Ismaili tradition to new climates and regions of the world, imbues the design with rich tradition, and sets the stage for a landscape of open multicultural dialog between the Ismaili community, Houstonians, and visitors from abroad.
Construction is planned to begin in 2022, with anticipated completion in 2024.
Collaborators: Farshid Moussavi Architects, DLR, Duplantis Design Group, Hydrodramatics, Adam Black, James Pole Irrigation, AKT II Engineers, McCarthy Building Companies.