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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Glass Tower May Replace Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City

The 16-story tower will serve as the headquarters of OKC-based OGE Energy Corp. (Courtesy adg)

The 16-story tower will serve as the headquarters of OKC-based OGE Energy Corp. (Courtesy ADG)

Fans of John Johansen‘s legendary Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City have yet another reason to shake their heads in amazement. Not only is the idiosyncratic modern masterpiece set for a date with the wrecking ball, there is now a proposal for the building that may replace it.

Kestrel Investments has filed an application with the Oklahoma City Planning Department to demolish Mummers—now known as Stage Center—and put in its place a 14- to 16-story tower that would become the headquarters of OGE Energy Corp. Designed by local architectural practice ADG, the $100 million proposal master plan also includes a second tower of eight-to-12 stories that would be developed separately.

Continue reading after the jump.

Is That A Dhow In Your Pocket, Or Just Zaha Hadid’s Stadium Design For The Qatar World Cup?

International, Newsletter
Monday, November 18, 2013
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The design is allegedly based upon the Dhow, a type of Arabian sailing ship. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

The design is allegedly based upon the Dhow, a type of Arabian fishing boat. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid Architects has unveiled its design for a 40,000-seat soccer stadium to rise in the Arabian kingdom of Qatar. The project is slated to be complete in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and is only one of several such facilities that the oil-rich nation plans to build—in addition to miles of roads, a seaport, airport, and a rail system—in a $140 billion spending spree to lay down the infrastructure necessary to support the event and the international crowds it attracts.

Hadid’s office has stated that the design of the stadium is derived from the dhow, a type of fishing vessel that is common among the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. Several commentators have pointed out, however, that the renderings more closely resemble the mounds, folds, and cavities of a certain very private part of the female anatomy.

Continue reading after the jump.

Two Polls Indicate the Disposition of Harris County Voters Regarding $217 Million Astrodome Bond Fund

Southwest
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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The Astrodome during the 1999 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (Courtesy Gary Hunt/flckr)

The Astrodome during the 1999 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (Courtesy Gary Hunt/flickr)

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that two recent polls have given clues as to how the denizens of Harris County will vote in the matter of approving $217 million in bonds to fund the reuse of the Astrodome. Previously, the Harris County Commissioners Court set the matter of the bond fund to a November 5 referendum. If voters approve the fund, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation will be able to proceed with its plans to create a New Dome Experience in time for Superbowl LI in 2017. Harris County property tax will also experience a slight hike to pay for it all. If voters oppose the issue, the Astrodome will in all likelihood meet the wrecking ball. Either way, entrants to AN and YKK AP‘s Reimagine The Astrodome competition will be watching with bated breath.

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!

Austin Unveils Top 10 Competition Entries for Seaholm Intake

Southwest
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
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SeaholmBuildingWater

The Seaholm Intake, build in the 1950s and decommissioned in 1996, is set to become a hub in park activity around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. (Courtesy Austin Parks & Recreation)

The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department recently hosted a competition (ended July 12) to attract concepts for the adaptive reuse of the Seaholm Intake Facility, the pump house of the decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant (the turbine hall of which is undergoing another adaptive reuse project). The Seaholm complex is located prominently on Lady Bird Lake in downtown, not far from Waller Creek, whose landscape is being redesigned by Michael Van Valkenburgh, and adjacent to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.

Some of its buildings, including the intake, are solid examples of the heroic period of American cast-in-place concrete Art-Deco municipal architecture and stand as civic icons in Austin. Competition entrants were asked to envision a new use for the structure and the surrounding land that would engage park users, the trail, and the water.

Austin Parks received 76 proposals and is displaying its favorite 10 entries at Austin City Hall from now until August 2. The top three will be announced on August 9. The ideas from the top three proposals will “help inspire subsequent design phases of the project,” according to Austin Parks’ website. Following this competition, Austin Parks will release a request for proposals for public-private partnerships with ideas of how to reuse the facility.

View the proposals after the jump.

Wrecking Ball To Swing On Johansen’s Mummers Theater

Southwest
Friday, July 26, 2013
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okc_mummers_theater_01-550x366

Known as Stage Center following a renovation, Johansen’s groundbreaking Mummers Theater is Oklahoma City’s only internationally acclaimed piece of architecture (Courtesy Elliott+ Associates Architects)

Oklahoma City investment company Kestrel Investments has purchased recently deceased architect John Johansen‘s Mummers Theater for $4.275 million and plans to demolish the revolutionary building to construct a 20-plus story mixed use tower in its place. The news came as a blow to local and national preservation groups who worked unsuccessfully to save the groundbreaking architectural work by finding a new tenant and use for the idiosyncratic structure.

Continue reading after the jump.

Edmonds International Designing Potential 58-story Mixed-use Tower in Midland, Texas

Southwest
Thursday, July 25, 2013
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21886875_BG1

At 58 stories, the Energy Tower would be more than twice as tall as Midland’s current tallest building. (Courtesy Edmonds International)

As the business hub of oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin, Midland, Texas, is on the cusp of a growth spurt. With the opening of the Cline Shale oil play, petroleum production in the region has increased 49 percent since 2007 to 1.29 million barrels per day and is expected to reach 2.2 million barrels per day by 2022. Betting on the influx of businesses and workers that will accompany this growth, local developer Energy Related Properties hired New York City–based architectural firm Edmonds International to design a 58-story, mixed-use tower sited on two blocks in downtown Midland that will contain everything a body could need for work, sleep, shopping, and play under one very tall roof.

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Spend the Summer in Portugal Building a Giant Model for the Lisbon Triennale

International, Newsletter
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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Workshop Futuro Perfeito (Courtesy Susana Gaude)

Workshop Futuro Perfeito (Courtesy Susana Gaude)

The Venice Biennale may be the most visible and glamorous architecture exhibition in the world, but it is not the only one on the design calendar. In fact, these exhibitions have been proliferating around the globe in the past ten years and several have not made it past their inaugural year. One of the best of the newer architecture exhibits is the Lisbon Triennale, which is about to host its third exhibition opening September 12, 2013.

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James Turrell Exhibit Opens Friday at the Guggenheim

East
Thursday, June 20, 2013
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Aten Reign, James Turrell's largest museum installation ever, fills the rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Aten Reign, James Turrell’s largest museum installation ever, fills the rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (David Held/Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Tomorrow, June 21, is the summer solstice. On the occasion, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will open the doors on a major solo show of the work of James Turrell, called simply James Turrell. It’s a fitting day to open an exhibition on the American artist. Since the 1960s, Turrell has developed a diverse body of work that uses light as material and medium. The centerpiece of the show is Aten Reign, a site-specific installation that fills Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous rotunda. Made from a series of interlocking fabric cones that relate to the Guggenheim’s interior ramps, Aten Reign interlaces the prevailing daylight with subtly changing color fields produced by concealed LED fixtures. Viewed from below, on reclining benches or lying flat on the floor, with the gentle bubbling of the Guggenheim’s fountain providing aural accompaniment, the installation provides a meditative, perception altering experience.

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