The 10-acre Third Ward park that has long held special significance for the city's African American community is being completely reimagined and should act as a catalyst for development in the neighborhood.

Emancipation Park was purchased by four former slaves in 1872 and served as a location to celebrate Juneteenth, the date in 1865 that marked the emancipation of African Americans in Texas. Until the 1950s it was the only public park and swimming pool in Houston open to African Americans.

Architects with the Freelon Group have designed a new Emancipation Park as an inter-woven tapestry of buildings and landscape celebrating the park's rich history and embracing the present and future of its community.

The project includes refurbished landscapes and play grounds, renovation of the two historic buildings and the addition of a new building and plaza. Site design began with aggregating similar program elements to create various activity zones within the park. The old recreation center will be repurposed as a Community Center and the Pool House will be renovated and expanded. A new Recreation Center completes the quad to create a formal Entry Plaza.

Meanwhile, the new Entry Plaza landscape stitches together the entrances of new and old buildings. Fronting the Community Center and flanked by the Pool House and Recreation Center, the plaza texture flows around the Community Center and establishes a central promenade that in turn branches out to activate and connect perimeter zones of the park, including new playground and picnic shelters.

The project is slated for completion in late 2015.