Architecture Walks

Next tour: Civic Center and Theater District, June 10

From June to September, tickets for Architecture Walks will go on sale at 5:30 p.m. and the last tour group will begin at 6 p.m.

 Wortham Theater Center (1987, Morris*Aubry Architects) /  photo   by Jim Parsons

Wortham Theater Center (1987, Morris*Aubry Architects) / photo by Jim Parsons

When landscape architects Hare & Hare drew up plans for Houston's civic center in the late 1920s, they envisioned a group of stylistically similar Spanish-influenced buildings arranged around a public square. But those plans were derailed by the Depression, and the city's governmental and cultural center ended up developing over the next 50 years in a variety of styles with few efforts at overall planning. Today, structures in the Civic Center and the adjacent Theater District reflect not only the evolution of Houston's municipal and cultural institutions, but also changing architectural tastes.

This 90-minute, docent-guided tour will visit architectural highlights of the neighborhood, including Ralph Adams Cram's Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library; Joseph Finger's Houston City Hall; Tranquillity Park, built to commemorate the 1969 moon landing; and Ulrich Franzen's 1968 Alley Theatre. Along the way, the tour will discuss the changing styles and shifting civic priorities that helped shape this section of downtown Houston.

Please note that this is an exterior architecture tour. The tour will not visit the interiors of any buildings. Public restrooms are not available on the tour route.


Tickets will go on sale at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 10, on the northeast corner of Smith Street and McKinney Avenue. Admission is $10 for the general public ($7 for Preservation Houston members and students with valid ID). Those who walk, ride a bike or use public transit to get to the tour will receive a $2 discount. Children 11 years old and under are admitted free. Tickets may be charged to Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. The last tour group will leave just after 6 p.m. Advance reservations are not required for this tour.


Street parking is free downtown Sundays (please be sure to observe posted parking regulations). Paid parking is available in nearby lots and garages. The tour start point is a short walk from the Main Street Square station on MetroRail's Red Line. Tour participants who walk, bike or use public transportation will receive a $2 discount off the tour price.


If inclement weather threatens on the day of the tour, watch this page for up-to-the-minute updates of any tour changes. You can also follow Preservation Houston on Twitter to receive tour updates.

About Architecture Walks

Explore Houston's architecturally and historically significant neighborhoods, buildings and institutions with Preservation Houston's monthly docent-guided walking tours. The tours are generally offered on the second Sunday of the month from January to November; tickets go on sale at 1:30 p.m. (6 p.m. June through September). Tours are open to the public. The cost is $10 per person ($7 for Preservation Houston members and students), with a $2 discount if you walk, bike or ride public transportation to the tour. Reservations aren't required unless specifically noted.

We also offer quarterly walking tours of Glenwood Cemetery (reservations are required; see our schedule of upcoming tours) as well as private tours for groups of nearly any size.

The Architecture Walks Program is supported in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.