Streamlined Streets Aim to Enhance Houston’s Quality of Life

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

Dunlavey Street in central Houston typifies the image of a Southwestern city street. It’s a sprawling, four lane affair that is approximately 50 percent usable, 80 percent pedestrian unsafe, and, in this case, 100 percent in need of an update. Transportation officials are evening out the numbers for a proposed road diet that would reduce the four-lane street to two and using the outer lane space for parking, improved sidewalks, and bike lanes.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> “Soto: The Houston Penetrable” Suspends 24,000 Tubes in Kinetic Display

Art, Interiors, On View, Southwest
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
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(Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

(Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

Soto: The Houston Penetrable
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet
Through September 1, 2014

The final installation in Jesús Rafael Soto’s Penetrables series—Houston Penetrable—will be on view at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as of May 8. An interactive display of 24,000 PVC tubes, each hand painted and tied, will hang from the second story of the museum’s Cullinan Hall.

More after the jump.

On View> Beyond Craft at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Art, On View, Southwest
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
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(Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Houston)

(Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Houston)

Beyond Craft
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
1001 Bissonnet, Houston
Through May 26

The Leatrice S. and Melvin B. Eagle Collection is one of the most remarkable decorative arts collections in the world, and goes a long way toward challenging the idea that there is a difference between decorative and high art. Although primarily American in scope, it also encompasses significant pieces by acclaimed international artists.

More info after the jump.

One Small Step For Houston is One Giant Step Backward for Johnson Space Center

One of Johnson Space Center's control rooms (Photo Courtesy of NASA)

One of Johnson Space Center’s control rooms (Courtesy NASA)

AN recently profiled the emerging architectural typology of spaceports across the country, and now there’s news from the Houston site that helped launch the dream of space travel decades ago. Independence Shuttle, a full-scale replica of NASA’s iconic Space Shuttle, recently was moved from the Johnson Space Center (JSC) to its next-door neighbor, Space Center Houston.

To some people, the relocation was a matter of mere logistics. To others, however, the transfer symbolized not just a lessening of power and precedence associated with Johnson Space Center, but with NASA’s space program as a whole.

Continue reading after the jump.

Houston Offering Tax Breaks to Build Housing Downtown, Create a Vibrant City

Skyline image courtesy of Urban Splatter

Houston. (Courtesy Urban Splatter)

Houston is set to double the amount of tax breaks it gives to developers for downtown apartments and condos to try to lure people to the city’s sleepy business district. The City Council unanimously agreed to expand the Downtown Living Initiative, which first launched a year and a half ago, to offer tax breaks for 5,000 residential units, up from a previous cap of 2,500.

Continue reading after the jump.

Page Architects Transforming Basement Tunnels at Houston’s Niels Esperson Building

News, Preservation, Southwest
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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Renderings of the lobby after the basement's reconstruction (Photo Courtesty of pagethink.com)

Renderings of the lobby after the basement’s reconstruction. (Courtesy Page)

The historic Niels Esperson Building has lit up the Houston skyline since 1927, but far below the tower’s neo-Classical cupola, a basement space connecting to a series of tunnels meandering underneath the city has remained out of the spotlight. Now, the building’s basement gets to play catch up in the fame game with a $2.5 million renovation spearheaded by architectural firm Page.

Continue reading after the jump.

Despite Preservation Push, Rice University’s Martel Center Demolished After All

News, Preservation, Southwest
Monday, April 21, 2014
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(COURTESY GLASSCOCK SCHOOL OF CONTINUING STUDIES)

Never mind! After all that fuss to preserve the iconic Texas tin structure, Rice University’s Art Barn met the Grim Reaper on Wednesday, April 16. While a group was able to salvage the building’s corrugated metal siding, wrecking crews tore away at the Martel Center’s structure, marking a definitive end to efforts of preservationists to move the building to another site in Houston. Andy Warhol’s famous oak tree planted in front of the former structure will remain intact, but once the dust clears only a grass lawn will serve as tombstone. A rogue power line temporarily stalled the demolition, thereby buying a commemorative moment for the Art Barn’s historical and cultural import. The building’s spirit will live on through the Menil Collection it once housed, as well as its legacy with other tin houses.

Art Barn on the Move: Rice University’s Martel Center To Be Relocated to Houston’s Fourth Ward

Southwest
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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The Art Barn (Courtesy Rice)

Leaving campus the way it came in—amid a swirl of shifting plans and controversy—seems to be the modus operandi for Rice University’s Martel Center, more colloquially known as “the Art Barn.” After reports last month that the building would be demolished, Rice University changed its mind and announced that it would, instead, relocate the historic structure to the Fourth Ward area of Houston, just west of downtown.

The Art Barn has graced Rice University’s campus since 1969. Originally conceived by John and Dominique de Menil as what was meant to be a quick-fix housing solution for their prestigious private art collection, the squatter became father to a generation of its kind, and established itself as a cultural mainstay not just within the university, but the community as a whole.

Continue reading after the jump.

Our Crisis: Engineer Considers Options for Houston’s Transportation Future

Eavesdroplet, Southwest, Transportation
Thursday, February 20, 2014
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Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

It’s no secret that Houston is going through a growth spurt. The city currently has four central business districts that, if separated, would each be among the country’s top 15 employment centers. In the next 30 years, 3.5 million people are projected to move to the 8-county region, with two million of those concentrated in Harris County.

Continue reading after the jump.

Letter to the Editor> Reimagine the Astrodome Competition Sour Grapes

Letter to the Editor, Southwest
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
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(Courtesy HiWorks with Erica Goranson)

(Courtesy HiWorks with Erica Goranson)

[ Editor’s Note: The following is a selection of reader-submitted comments from the online feature about AN’s recent Reimagine the Astrodome competition. It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN01_02.05.2014_SW. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com]

Three of these are not serious, and the one with merit, the “sky dome” closely resembles a proposal I published over two years ago. Naturally we think that is a great concept, but the devil is in the details.

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Gensler Tower in Houston Becomes One of First in U.S. to Receive LEED V4 Platinum Pre-Certification

Newsletter, Southwest
Monday, January 20, 2014
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The high-performance design includes daylight harvesting, rainwater collecting, and bicycle amenities, among other green features (Courtesy Gensler)

The high-performance design includes daylight harvesting, rainwater collecting, and bicycle amenities, among other green features (Courtesy Gensler)

The Gensler-designed Capitol Tower, a 34-story speculative office building developed by Skanska USA on the site of the former Houston Club in downtown Houston, Texas, has been awarded Platinum Pre-Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED v4 ranking system. According to a press release put out by Skanska, the project is one of only a handful of in-the-works buildings to earn the distinction under the fourth generation of the LEED system. The company also stated that it wished Capitol Tower to be the greenest building in Houston. The design includes a high-performance facade system, daylight harvesting technology to reduce energy use, 90 percent access to daylight and views for tenants, a garage with daylight occupancy sensors and a green roof, alternative vehicle charging stations, a rainwater collection system, and bicycle amenities to encourage cycle commuting, among other sustainable features.

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On View> “Roads of Arabia” Exhibition on Saudi Arabian Archaeology Opens December 19 in Houston

Art, On View, Southwest
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
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(Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Houston)

(Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Houston)

Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston
5601 Main Street
Houston, Texas
December 19 through March 9, 2014

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) is hosting an eye-opening exhibition this winter that will uncover the rich history of the ancient trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula. Organized by the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., in association with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Roads of Arabia will feature objects recently excavated from more than 10 archaeological sites, and give insight into the culture and economy of this ancient civilization. Recently discovered objects along the trade routes include alabaster bowls and fragile glassware as well as heavy gold earrings and monumental statues. All of the artifacts are testament to the lively exchange between Arabs and their neighbors, including the Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, and Greco-Romans.

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