Cistern Illuminated: Last chance to see the winter lighting in Buffalo Bayou.

See Houston’s history from underground

HOUSTON (KIAH) This former underground reservoir in Buffalo Bayou is filled with history and lights. And you have a few more weeks to see winter lighting available to the public.

Illuminated cistern was created for the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. This special installation provides a unique perspective on this cavernous underground space, enhancing its 221 columns and seemingly endless reflection.. Illuminated cistern designed by Houston-based artist and engineer Kelly O’Brien of Fenris.

Buffalo Bayou Park
  • On view: Now – January 22, 2023
  • Time:
    • Wednesday and Thursday 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00
    • Friday 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00 and 19:00
    • Saturday and Sunday 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00
  • Expenses:
    • $10 per person (ages 9+ only)
    • $2 discount for military, college students and seniors (65+). Guests are required to show ID upon check-in.
    • Free on the first Thursday of the month

You can also take public or private tours of the Cistern. Learn more about Cistern Illuminate here.

BBP has restored and repurposed the Cistern as a stunning public space for its massive art installation replacement program. Houston architectural and engineering firm Page was commissioned to design a ground-level entrance structure to help visitors enter the cistern from the outside, and improve a shelf around the space’s perimeter to create a six-foot-wide ADA. well-maintained walkway with fences. In May 2016, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership opened the cistern to the public.

Fun Facts:

  • 87,500 square feet or the size of 1.5 football fields
  • 221–25 feet tall, thin concrete columns span the space
  • Holds 15 million gallons of water when operating at full capacity
  • The 8″ thick concrete roof and tapered concrete walls range from 8″ at the top to 18″ at the bottom.
  • 17 second echo
  • SWA landscape architect Kevin Shanley first named the reservoir “The Cistern” because it reminded him of the ancient Roman cisterns near Istanbul.

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