Howard Hughes Honors Coulson Tough With Life-Sized Sculpture at Namesake Elementary

By: Conroe ISD
| Published 12/11/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- Howard Hughes Holdings Inc. hosted the unveiling of a life-sized bronze, interactive sculpture of the late Coulson Tough by award-winning Houston sculptor Bridgette Mongeon Thursday. Honoring the memory of The Woodlands community leader and art advocate, on his actual birthdate, Howard Hughes created the interactive sculpture to welcome faculty, students, parents, alumni and visitors into Coulson Tough Elementary, a K-6 school located in the Village of Sterling Ridge. Tough is the namesake of the elementary school, which opened in The Woodlands in 2002.

“Education is vital to our community and was part of the original vision of The Woodlands for our students – to educate from preschools, elementary through high school, and later college from certifications and bachelor’s degrees to post graduate degrees. George Mitchell, Coulson Tough and many leaders founded schools in The Woodlands, and Howard Hughes stands strong to the allegiance of top-ranked education for today and future generations to prosper,” said Jim Carman, President, Houston Region for Howard Hughes. “With this commitment, we believe the most fitting place to honor this extraordinary person is at Coulson Tough Elementary.”

Joining Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null, Tough Elementary Principal Christy Julien and school staff were Coulson’s son Bruce Tough with his family and executives from Howard Hughes.

Award-winning artist Bridgette Mongeon created the life-sized bronze masterpiece which captivates the likeness and expression of Coulson Tough casually sitting on a bench with one leg crossed. As an interactive piece, the six-foot wide bench includes space for two or three guests to sit and imagine holding a conversation with Tough. Mongeon collaborated with Bruce Tough to garner intricate details including a blueprint, positioned in Coulson’s bronze hands, depicting major projects he managed and assisted with the development of including The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, The Tremont House in Galveston and The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center, also in Galveston, as well as The Dreamer, Tough’s favorite sculpture and more.

Children can interact with the blueprint through the “art of tracing” – taking a piece of paper over the blueprint and tracing a pencil or crayon back and forth, watching the images on the blueprint come to life on paper.

“I want to thank Howard Hughes for this recognition of my father. The naming of Coulson Tough Elementary was my father’s greatest honor. My first viewing of the new sculpture brought such emotion and praise of how much Bridgette captured my father’s spirit, uniqueness, creativity and vision,” said Bruce Tough. “I know students, alumni, and teachers of Coulson Tough Elementary will enjoy and be inspired to celebrate my father’s legacy of community service for many years.”

The Woodlands features over 90 pieces of outdoor art, positioned throughout its nine villages, and has one of the largest collections of outdoor art for a community of its size. Coulson Tough played a vital role in The Woodlands’ art program for three decades. Tough implemented the Art Fund, where a percentage of art is funded by commercial development in The Woodlands, a program that Howard Hughes continues today.

Immersive artwork which Howard Hughes recently introduced into the community includes Shoal by Squidsoup, an experiential art piece where 750 individual orbs of light work harmoniously with motion and sound to create an oceanic system of sound and light in Hughes Landing®, and Flowers, in Waterway Square®, one of the largest outdoor art murals in Texas by internationally acclaimed artist, Alex Katz.

Tough worked closely with founder of The Woodlands, the late George Mitchell, and The Woodlands Development Company, now Howard Hughes, on the initial commercial design and development of The Woodlands, beginning in 1973 until his retirement in 2003. He was instrumental in many major milestones in The Woodlands Town Center.

Tough was named as one of the original The Woodlands Hometown Heroes in 1999. He was involved with the Conroe Independent School District as a trustee. Tough was a member of The Woodlands Rotary Club, and in 2019, he was awarded the Legacy Award from The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce.

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