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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Pittfalls in New Orleans: Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” Houses Need Repair

Architecture, News, Newsletter, Southwest
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
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(Muskegon Habitat/Flickr)

(Muskegon Habitat/Flickr)

The houses built by Brad Pitt’s charitable organization, Make it Right, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are already in need of refurbishing. The foundation is part of an effort to restore New Orleans‘ 9th Ward through the construction of 150 architect-designed homes featuring modern design, but the timber used on the exteriors of many of the homes is proving no match for the area’s moisture and is beginning to rot.  The charity has said it will work with their provider TimberSIL to solve the problems with the rapidly decaying wood.

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LSU’s Building Design Renaissance

Architecture, Envelope, Southwest
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
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Viracon manufactured a custom double-pane insulated glass unit ceramic fritting and one-way mirroring. (Brad Feinknopf/Feinknopf)

Viracon manufactured a custom double-pane insulated glass unit ceramic fritting and one-way mirroring. (Brad Feinknopf/Feinknopf)

ikon.5 Architects designs a reflective, fritted facade in the visual tradition of the campus’ original craftsmanship.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Jersey–based ikon.5 Architects had an opportunity to reinvent the image of Lousiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business. The original campus, designed in 1928 by the Olmsted Group, was planned as an Italian Renaissance village, which functioned as the economic engine of Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico region for nearly 75 years. ikon.5 and local firm Coleman Partners Architects, used the circumstances of Katrina’s aftermath to give the business school a progressive image, while staying true to the University’s prescriptive aesthetic guidelines.

Maintaining the classical layout of the main square—head houses at either end with smaller classrooms lining an expanse of lawn—the design committee made several concessions in the 2012 update. In the past, guidelines dictated that all buildings feature the original craftsmen’s stucco formula, which was made from crushed white pebbles and seashells. But for the 21st century, LSU’s Design Committee decided that updating materiality would be a forward-thinking representation of the school’s influence and thus approved a new glass skin for the business school’s graduate and undergraduate classroom buildings. Read More

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.

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.

On View> Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present

On View, Southwest
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
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(Courtesy The Dallas Museum of Art)

(Courtesy The Dallas Museum of Art)

Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present
The Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood Street
Dallas, TX
Extended through December 2014

The Dallas Museum of Art is celebrating the work of prolific designers and architects from the 1960s to the present with its first comprehensive design exhibition. Some of the featured designers include Robert Venturi, Frank Gehry, Aldo Rossi, Zaha Hadid, and Donald Judd. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s own collection, the exhibition reveals the evolution of forms and ideologies that have shaped international design over the last half century.

“Several of the works on view are recent acquisitions that reflect the continuing expansion of the Museum’s decorative arts and design program to include historic American and European work, as well as contemporary objects of international significance,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. From modern jewelry like The Golden Fleece, to iconic furniture, the exhibition spotlights the extraordinary work of some of the best designers of our time.

REX + Front Studio Create Sun-Responsive Shade to Protect Dallas Museum

City Terrain, Southwest
Monday, November 18, 2013
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(Courtesy Lexigon)

(Courtesy Lexigon)

Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center was designed with natural sunlight in mind. A roof covered by pierced aluminum screens allows dappled light to enter its art galleries in subtle warmth. The outdoor sculpture garden is open to the elements and a specifically-planted landscape by Peter Walker reaps the benefits of the Texan sun.

Since its construction in 2005, the museum has become an icon of the Dallas Arts District. In 2011, a 42-story condominium building went up across the street, banking on the popularity of Piano’s art haven. While the glazed curved glass facade of “Museum Tower” offers million dollar views of the museum below, it burns the artworks and plants with a directed glare.

Now, a pair of New York–based architects might have a solution.

Continue Reading After the Jump.

Tunnel Rats: Does Texas Favor Building Highways Over Subways?

Eavesdroplet, Southwest
Monday, November 18, 2013
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The Waller Creek Tunnel in Austin. (Courtesy Lachel & Associates Engineers)

The Waller Creek Tunnel in Austin. (Courtesy Lachel & Associates Engineers)

According to a very confidential source, engineers currently working on the Waller Creek tunnel believe that Austin sits on top of some of the most optimal conditions for tunneling in the entire U.S. These number-crunching problem solvers claimed that a subway tunnel beneath the Texas State Capital’s downtown would cost 1/10th of the amount it would in most places in the country. However, the brainiacs also said that there are those in high places who do not want that knowledge spread around (read TxDOT) because the construction of more freeways is making certain people a great deal of money.

Carpetbagger: Dallas Extends Unconventional Welcome to Critic Mark Lamster

Eavesdroplet, Southwest
Thursday, November 14, 2013
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Mark Lamster. (Courtesy Dallas Morning News)

Mark Lamster. (Courtesy Dallas Morning News)

“New York City?!? Get a rope.” That sums up the feelings of some North Texans upon learning the origin and reading the prejudices of the Dallas Morning News’ new architecture critic, Mark Lamster. The Brooklyn-based scribbler—who also happens to be a professor in the architecture school of the University of Texas at Arlington—recently tweeted a love letter he received from one such offended reader. “You’re a carpetbagger reporter with no knowledge of—or sensitivity to—Dallas, our suburbs, or our incorporated cities and towns,” it said. To which Lamster replied, “Thanks!”

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Houston Voters to Astrodome: Drop Dead (But A Better Plan Is Coming!)

Southwest
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
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Inside the Houston Astrodome in 2005 when it houses Hurricane Katrina survivors. (Kelly Garbato / Flickr)

Inside the Houston Astrodome in 2005 when it houses Hurricane Katrina survivors. (Kelly Garbato / Flickr)

Yesterday, Houston voters killed a $200 million ballot initiative to renovate the unused Astrodome. Fifty-three percent opposed the measure and 47 percent supported it. The plan would have turned the stadium—the first domed and air-conditioned professional stadium—into a multi-use event and convention space. Houston’s professional sports teams now play in Reliant Stadium next door and Minute Made Park in downtown Houston. Without funding for renovation, the dome appears destined for demolition.

Tomorrow, AN will release the results of the “Re-imagine the Astrodome” competition, which includes both pragmatic and visionary ideas for re-using the Space Age structure. To celebrate, join us for coffee and refreshments at the Texas Society of Architects in the Grand Lobby of Fort Worth Convention Center from 10:00-11:00 a.m. We’ll also be launching the inaugural issue of the Southwest edition. Stop by meet AN‘s new Southwest Aaron Seward.

New Public Space Initiative Aims to Revive Austin’s Forgotten Alleyways

City Terrain, Southwest
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
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20FT AUSTIN ALLEY AND ITS COLORFUL STREAMS (COURTESY 20FT WIDE)

20FT AUSTIN ALLEY AND ITS COLORFUL STREAMS (COURTESY 20FT WIDE)

Austin, Texas–based architects Dan Cheetham and Michelle Tarsney have given a new face to some of the city’s underutilized spaces: alleyways. Their one-of-a-kind community art installation, 20ft WIDE, seeks to resolve conflict between architecture, art, and humanism in order to create places of lasting value. The once forgotten alley between Ninth and Tenth streets, which connects Congress Avenue and Brazos Street in Downtown Austin, has been transformed into a collaborative space to bring attention to public urban places and foster discussion about the new possibilities for their uses

Continue reading after the jump.

Austin’s ‘Ghost Tree’ is a Symbol of Drought in the Lone Star State

GHOST TREE ON LADY BIRD LAKE (COURTESY THIRST)

GHOST TREE ON LADY BIRD LAKE (COURTESY THIRST)

Austin’s new temporary art installation, THIRST, is inspired by Texas’ ongoing periods of severe drought since 2011. According to studies conducted by Texas A&M Forest Services, over 300 million trees have succumbed to the state’s extremely dry conditions over the past three years. Located between the Pfluger Pedestrian Crossway and the Lamar Boulevard Bridge, a white-ghostly tree now hovers over Lady Bird Lake and is surrounded by a floating barrier.

Continue reading after the jump.

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