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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Urban Ecology Center Finds New Grounds at San Antonio’s Phil Hardberger Park

Southwest
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
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Opening of the new Urban Ecology Center at Phil Hardberger Park in San Antonio, Texas, on September 7, 2013. (Courtesy Lewis McNeel, Lake|Flato Architects)

Opening of the new Urban Ecology Center at Phil Hardberger Park in San Antonio, Texas, on September 7, 2013. (Courtesy Lewis McNeel, Lake|Flato Architects)

Last Saturday, the San Antonio community inaugurated the Lake|Flato Architects–designed Urban Ecology Center (UEC). Sited on the West Side of Phil Hardberger Park, the 18,600-square-foot UEC will be home to the Alamo Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. This latest showpiece in the city’s park system will serve as a functional ecological system, a meeting space, and an urban ecology learning facility. Parks Project Manager Sandy Jenkins explained that the center was built with the intention of informing future generations about environmental concerns and the preservation of ecological systems. Former mayor Phil Hardberger, who recognized the asset of parks in improving the general urban quality of life, originally prompted the construction of the park in 2010. Covering 311 acres on eiter side of the Wurzbach Parkway, it was built as a means to preserve San Antonio’s environmental treasures and natural heritage.

Continue reading after the jump.

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.

Ice Cream Freezer Reinvented as Santa Fe Architecture Office

Newsletter, Southwest
Thursday, September 5, 2013
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(Rich Anderson / Flickr)

(Rich Anderson / Flickr)

Santa Fe, New Mexico–based architecture firm WAMO Studio recently moved into a cool new office—a former walk-in ice cream freezer. The repurposed space, formerly used by Taos Cow Ice Cream to store frozen treats. The 550-square-foot freezer offers a sleek and industrial space with sheet metal walls and industrial-strength insulation. After a few adjustments, WAMO has transformed it from a frigid container to a viable workspace. Partner and architect, Vahid Mojarrab, described the space to the Santa Fe New Mexican as “a perfect fit” for the husband-and-wife architecture company, which specializes in energy-efficient and high-performance design.

View the office conversion 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!

Cesar Pelli To Overhaul New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport

Newsletter, Southwest
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
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1960 Aerial View of Louis Armstrong Airport (Courtesy of Louis Armstrong International Airport)

1960 Aerial View of Louis Armstrong Airport (Courtesy of Louis Armstrong International Airport)

With terminals at Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan International Airport and the Tokyo Haneda Airport under his belt (among several other transportation hubs), Cesar Pelli is no stranger to the challenges of designing airports. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Argentinian-born architect, who assisted Earo Saarinen on the iconic TWA terminal early in his career, will now collaborate with two New Orleans–based firms, Manning Architects and Hewitt Washington Architects, to redesign the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to coincide with the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018.

Continue reading after the jump.

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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Oklahoma City Developer: Take My Geodesic Dome And Get $100,000!

Southwest
Friday, March 22, 2013
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The Gold Dome in the 1950s. (Roadsidepictures / Flickr)

The Gold Dome in the 1950s. (Roadsidepictures / Flickr)

Oklahoma City just cannot tear down its architectural landmarks fast enough! The city and its developer community have been trying to do away with John Johansen‘s famous Mummers Theater and now David Box, a local developer, wants to get rid of a unique geodesic dome built in 1958 on Route 66. The developer—who claims among other things that the roof leaks and “you can’t just call a normal roofer and say hey we got a geodesic dome here can you fix it”—will give anyone who wants the dome a $100,000 bonus to take it off his property so he can fill it in and “make it safe.” The structure was originally built to house a bank and has been declared eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002 and was designed by local architects Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson, and Roloff based on Buckminster Fuller‘s patented dome.

More images after the jump.

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