Architecture Assemblages in Texas Create Curious Houses

Southwest
Monday, September 23, 2013
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Fifth Ward Jam (Courtesy Ed Schipul / Flickr)

Fifth Ward Jam. 2010. (Ed Schipul / Flickr)

Artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck of Havel Ruck Projects have garnered attention for some interesting installation pieces in Houston, blurring the lines between art and architecture. Over the last eight years, the collaboration has constructed temporary artworks using old, wooden homes, bizarre shows of simultaneous deconstruction and reconstruction of architecture.

Inversion from 2005 recreates two wood bungalows, donated to the artists by Art League Houston, into a vortex of white wooden planks. In 2010, the Houston Art Alliance sponsored Havel Ruck Projects’s creation of Fifth Ward Jam. A wooden home doomed for refuse in Houston’s 5th Ward became an imaginative community stage of vertically spewed boards.

View the Gallery After the Jump

From The Pages Of Texas Architect: Il Duomo

Southwest
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
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The Astrodome's structure encloses so much volume that its roof provides no surrogate scale or visual weight. As experienced by visitors, the Dome's roof is a gossamer web of steel clouds drifting above the playing field, completing a vision of the cosmos and creating a new relationship between the players and the audience in the public ritual of sports. (Courtesy Texas Architect)

The Astrodome’s structure encloses so much volume that its roof provides no surrogate scale or visual weight. As experienced by visitors, the Dome’s roof is a gossamer web of steel clouds drifting above the playing field, completing a vision of the cosmos and creating a new relationship between the players and the audience in the public ritual of sports. (Courtesy Texas Architect)

[ Editor’s Note: The following story, “Il Duomo,” first appeared in Texas Architect‘s May/June 1990 issue. It was written by the late Douglas Pegues Harvey, an architect who graduated from Rice University and worked for Marmon Mok Architecture in San Antonio. It was written on the occasion of the Houston Astrodome‘s 25th anniversary as a sort of homage as well as a protest for the fact that the building was not chosen for the AIA Twenty-Five Year Award. Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch was. (Incidentally, another Houston project was chosen for the 2013 25-Year Award.) We are rerunning this story, with permission, because today, September 17, is the registration deadline for Reimagine the Astrodome, AN and YKK AP‘s Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition. Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding the competitionwe’ve decided to extend the registration dealing to Monday, September 23. So if you were sleeping, wake up! Sign up today! (Also, if you have the chops to write articles like “Il Duomo” and want to contribute to AN Southwest, please contact Aaron Seward, aseward@archpaper.com.) ]

It’s not every building that gets to be known as The Eighth Wonder Of The World. Texas’ nominee, the Astrodome, opened 25 years ago as the world’s finest interior landscape. On Apr. 9,1965, a time when the hegemony of television and the standing of the Sunbelt in American life were not yet secure, the Astrodome opening struck a telling blow on their behalf. The occasion was a Houston Astro’s exhibition baseball game against the New York Yankees. With President Lyndon Johnson watching, Mickey Mantle (naturally) hit the first home run, but the Astro’s (necessarily) won.

Continue reading after the jump.

PAC Formed to Save The Houston Astrodome

Southwest
Friday, September 13, 2013
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The Astrodome had the world's first animated electronic scoreboard. Here it is circa 1986. (Courtesy Gary Hunt/flickr)

The Astrodome had the world’s first animated electronic scoreboard. Here it is circa 1986. (Courtesy Gary Hunt/flickr)

With less then 8 weeks remaining before Harris County voters cast their ballots to decide the fate of the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” a group of prominent Houstonians has established a political action committee with which they hope to raise public support for the ailing Astrodome. Launched at a press conference on Thursday, The New Dome PAC has begun efforts to raise upwards of $200,000 for a media campaign intended to persuade the public to vote in favor of Proposition 2, the $217 million project that aims to preserve, repurpose, and modernize the historic stadium. While no opposing organization has yet been formed, some worry that many donors may be tapped out at this point in the political season, and polls conducted by local stations KHOU 11 News and KUHF Houston Public Radio show that the public is still split, with younger voters who may have never attended an event at the Astrodome showing less enthusiasm for putting down the cash to save it. Meanwhile, don’t forget that the Architect’s Newspaper and YKK AP are hosting an Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition: Reimagine The Astrodome. The registration deadline is September 17, so sign up today!

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From The Pages of Texas Architect: Astrodome Update by Ben Koush

Southwest
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
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The Astrodome under construction in 1963. The structure comprises 9,400 tons of steel, 2,900 of which is in the roof alone. (Courtesy University of Houston)

The Astrodome under construction in 1963. The structure is made up of 9,400 tons of steel, 2,900 of which is in the roof alone. (Courtesy University of Houston)

[ Editor’s Note: For those of you who are getting excited about The Architect’s Newspaper and YKK AP’s Reimagine the Astrodome design ideas competition, you have until September 17 to register. Once you’ve done that, take the time to read the following article, which appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of Texas Architect. Written by Houston-based architect and writer Ben Koush, it covers the current status of the Dome, what it means to Harris County, and Space City’s record of not bothering to preserve its architectural heritage. ]

Ever since the Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, in a snit after being refused a new stadium, took his football team to Nashville in 1997 and renamed it the Tennessee Titans, the fate of the Astrodome has been up in the air. Matters were made worse when, instead of rehabilitating the Astrodome a new, neo-traditionalist baseball stadium, Minute Maid Park, was built down-town for the Astros in 1999, and then in 2002, a hulking new football stadium, Reliant Center, was built uncomfortably close to its predecessor to house the replacement team, the Houston Texans, and the Houston Rodeo.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> Library of Congress Documents Houston’s Astrodome in 2004

Southwest
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
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The Astrodome looking east from the roof of its neighbor and replacement, Reliant Stadium. (Jet Lowe, Courtesy Library of Congress)

The Astrodome looking east from the roof of its neighbor and replacement, Reliant Stadium. (Jet Lowe, Courtesy Library of Congress)

As enthusiasm continues to build for The Architect Newspaper and YKK AP’s Reimagine The Astrodome design ideas competition, which accompanies the launch of the forthcoming AN Southwest edition as well as YKK AP‘s expansion into the region, we thought we’d take the opportunity to share a collection of excellent black and white photographs of the Astrodome from the Library of Congress. These pictures document the dome as it looked in 2004, after its last tenant, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, had moved out in 2003, before it was used to house refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and well before it was declared unfit for occupancy in 2008. Take this opportunity to subscribe to AN Southwest and sign up for the Reimaging The Astrodome competition.

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Houston’s 1927 Buffalo Bayou Reservoir Digitally Mapped and Open for Reuse Proposals

City Terrain, Southwest
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
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The "Cistern," constructed in 1927, was Houston's first drinking water reservoir. (Courtesy Buffalo Bayou Partnership)

The “Cistern,” constructed in 1927, was Houston’s first drinking water reservoir. (Courtesy Buffalo Bayou Partnership)

During construction on the Buffalo Bayou Partnership‘s (BBP) Buffalo Bayou Park Shepherd to Sabine project—which began in 2010 and is seeking to transform the downtown park into a catalyst for making Houston a more livable city—workers rediscovered an underground concrete cistern that had been built in 1927 as the city’s first drinking water reservoir. It performed decades of service before springing a leak that couldn’t be located or contained, at which point the 87,500-square-foot subterranean chamber was sealed up and forgotten. Today, the old piece of infrastructure is an inspiring, if somewhat erie space. Accessed through manholes and 14-foot ladders, the man-made cavern features row upon row of cathedral-like 25-foot-tall columns standing in several inches of still water. BBP would like to see the space adaptively reused, but such an endeavor currently lies outside the scope of its Shepherd to Sabine project. So to drum up interest in renovating the space, the organization commissioned Houston company SmartGeoMetrics to create a 3D fly-through of the cistern.

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Reimagine The Astrodome: Houston Design Ideas Competition Launched

Southwest
Thursday, August 29, 2013
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The Houston Astrodome as it appeared in 2009. (Ed Schipul / Flickr)

The Houston Astrodome as it appeared in 2009. (Ed Schipul / Flickr)

To launch the forthcoming Southwest edition of the Architect’s Newspaper, and to kick-off YKK AP‘s expansion into the region, AN and YKK AP have teamed up to host Reimagine The Astrodome, an Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition. The competition is open to anyone who wishes to participate, whether it be professional architects and engineers or students and artists. Registration opened yesterday afternoon and will close on September 17. Entrants who register by September 6 will get $10 off the registration fee, which is $50 for professionals and $20 for students. The top five proposals, which will be selected by a jury of prominent architects and educators in Houston on October 4, will receive cash prizes and be published in the first issue of AN Southwest, cover date November 6, which will be distributed at the Texas Society of Architect’s 2013 design expo and convention in Fort Worth. Register today!

Ceilings Plus Soars in Texas

Fabrikator
Friday, August 23, 2013
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator

 
280 custom-fabricated ceilings panels are installed across 18 planes at the University of Houston's Quiet Hall. (Ryan Gobuty/Gensler)

At the University of Houston’s Quiet Hall, 280 custom-fabricated ceiling panels are installed across 18 planes. (Ryan Gobuty/Gensler)

Gensler’s design at the University of Houston is realized in a cloud-inspired, sound-absorptive ceiling solution.

Gensler and Ceilings Plus have brought a touch of the Big Apple to the University of Houston’s recently completed Quiet Hall in the Classroom and Business Building. Gensler drew its design inspiration for a ceiling in the new building from the New York Central Library’s Rose Reading Room. The firm hired the California-based Ceilings Plus to translate its interpretation of this classical interior, which includes perforations and geometric folds, into an affordable, buildable, and installable ceiling solution.

Ceilings Plus used digital software to marry the design architect’s vision with a workable model that offered minimal joint tolerances and maintained compatibility with HVAC systems. “Since the architect was interested in doing something completely new, it was important to realize that process together,” said Michael Chusid, who works in marketing and business development for Ceilings Plus. Gensler produced three conceptual renderings in Revit, then turned them over to project engineer Robert Wochner, who developed sound-absorptive perforations and a suspension system that could support the various angles of the Quiet Hall’s multi-planar ceiling. Read More

Michael Van Valkenburgh Overhauling The Menil Collection Campus

National
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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Renzo Piano's Menil Collection. (Paul Hester)

Menil Collection. (Paul Hester)

New York-based landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has been selected to develop new designs for The Menil Collection’s 30-acre campus in Houston, Texas. The appointment kicks off the Menil’s “neighborhood of art” master plan, designed in 2009 by London-based David Chipperfield Architects. Chipperfield’s scheme attempts to tie together a group of six buildings spread across several blocks and interspersed with outdoor sculpture gardens and green spaces. The museum anticipates that groundwork for the initial stage of MVVA’s design will begin this September.

Continue reading after the jump.

Six Outstanding Libraries Honored by the AIA and American Library Association

National, Newsletter
Monday, June 3, 2013
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South Mountain Community Library. (Bill Timmerman / Mark Boisclair)

South Mountain Community Library. (Bill Timmerman / Mark Boisclair)

As cities across the country struggle to bring new life to aging athenaeums and cash-strapped local libraries, the AIA has honored six outstanding examples of library design in this year’s AIA/ALA Library Building Awards. In the past we have seen a Walmart transformed into a library, a controversial starchitect renovation in New York, and an interactive, LED light-show—now take a look at these honored projects. From democratic design in the nation’s capital to a stunning Beaux-Arts restoration in St. Louis and high-tech solutions in North Carolina, this year’s winning projects present a range of answers to the challenges facing our fading repositories.

View the winners after the jump.

Memory Cloud Taps Tradition At Texas A&M

Fabrikator
Friday, May 24, 2013
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator
Memory Cloud Texas A&M tradition with an active constellation of animated LEDs.

Memory Cloud embodies Texas A&M tradition with an active matrix of animated LEDs. (Courtesy Metalab)

Re:site and Metalab’s site-specific installation for Texas A&M’s 12th Man Memorial Student Center uses 4,000 networked LEDs to create an animated display that speaks to tradition as well as to the future.

The Corps of Cadets. Kyle Field. The 12th Man. Reveille. Texas A&M has more than a few strong traditions, most of which are centered around and given expression by the university’s football games and its alumni’s illustrious history of military service. At the same time, the school is well known for its robust and forward thinking science and engineering departments. Both of these characteristics factored into the conception for a permanent sculpture to inhabit A&M’s new Memorial Student Center (MSC). Created by art collaborative RE:site and design and fabrication studio Metalab (both located in Houston) the sculpture, titled Memory Cloud, is a chandelier of 4,000 white LEDs that are animated by two distinct feeds: one derived from archival footage of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, the other from live infrared cameras that monitor people passing through the center’s atrium.

“To interpret tradition visually we thought of moving patterns of people,” said Norman Lee of RE:site. “A&M has a strong marching band. If you remove the specifics of what the band is wearing and focus on the movements, they’re the same from 1900 to now. Once you reduce the figures from archival footage to silhouette patterns, you can’t identify the different points in time. Time and space collapse and bring together the school’s tradition in visual terms.”

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Providence Takes Top Award in Bloomberg Mayors Challenge

National
Thursday, March 14, 2013
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Bloomberg gives Providence $5 million to implement system to monitor low-income families. (Martha Heinemann Bixby / Flickr)

Bloomberg Philanthropies gives Providence $5 million to implement system to monitor low-income families. (Martha Heinemann Bixby / Flickr)

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winners of its Mayors Challenge, a competition meant to generate innovative ideas for the improvement of city life. Out of the 300 cities that submitted proposals, the giving institution created by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave the Grand Prize for Innovation to Providence, RI, and its mayor, Angel Taveras. The city was awarded $5 million to implement its project, what Bloomberg Philanthropies called a “cutting-edge early education initiative.” Under the initiative, participating children will wear a recording device home that will monitor the conversations they have with their parents or other adults. The transcripts of these conversations will then be used to develop weekly coaching sessions in which government monitors or someone will coach the grownups on how better to speak with their children.

Continue reading after the jump.

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