Located approximately 28 miles north of Houston, this 25,000 acre community was developed by oil and gas tycoon George Mitchell. Concerned about suburban sprawl and inner city decay, Mitchell aspired to develop The Woodlands in a more economically and environmentally balanced manner.
The project was partially financed under the Housing and Urban Development Act’s Title VII amendment. Preliminary plans were prepared in 1966 by architect Karl Kamrath, with Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd brought on to do extensive ecological analysis and design in 1970. Led by Ian McHarg, WMRT’s diverse team consisted of geologists, hydrologists, and design professionals. The development was subdivided into villages, each with its own schools, places of worship, shops, parks, and greenways. Curvilinear streets were laid out to respond to the area’s many natural creeks and streams, with houses and other structures built to preserve as much of the dense loblolly pine woodland as possible. Efforts to utilize natural drainage systems and limit runoff are a hallmark of the design, and proved more cost-effective than curb and gutter drainage systems. Commercial development was clustered in village centers and the busier intersection with Interstate 45, and includes retail, office, healthcare and hospitality facilities along with park amenities. With the first houses completed in 1974, The Woodlands now includes a mix of housing types spread out over nine villages, a 1900-acre nature preserve, 200 miles of pathways, seven golf courses, 200-acre Lake Woodlands, 125 parks, and entertainment and shopping venues.