Posts tagged with "Houston":

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Ground breaks on Steven Holl’s design for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Steven Holl's design for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) has started construction. In 2015, Holl described the commission as "the most important" of his career.

Steven Holl Architects was awarded the job back in 2012, seeing off competition from Morphosis and Snøhetta, but working out the design has been a drawn-out experience. “What you see here is the culmination of a 36-month design process,” Holl said at a design unveiling two years ago. In addition to the 165,000-square-foot Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, and the Glassell School of Art, the architect also worked on the museum's master plan.

The 14-acre campus will also include the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation, designed by Lake|Flato Architects of San Antonio. The two-storey facility will sit above MFAH's existing parking garage and provide conservation labs and studios, and a street-level cafe. Holl's translucent Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, meanwhile, will see two floors of galleries circling a top-lit three-level atrium added along with a restaurant, theater, reflecting pools, vertical gardens, meeting rooms, and underground parking.

The building will have etched glass tubular cladding that will allow daylight to filter through and also give the building a soft glow come sunset. At ground level, six reflecting pools of water will amplify the luminous qualities of the structure's skin, which will also include seven vertical gardens. These will be cut into segments of vision glass instead of the translucent tubing. Inside, the two galleries will total 54,000 square feet. The upper level is to be shielded by a luminous canopy roof, which has concave curves inspired by Texas' billowing clouds. All of the gallery spaces feature natural light. Holl is working with New York–based lighting design firm L’Observatoire International on the project.

Furthermore, Holl's new Glassell School of Art will connect with the water pools and connect the campus to The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza. All in all, MFAH's additions will come to $450 million. Construction is touted for completion in 2019.
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First look at Michael Maltzan’s Moody Center for the Arts in Houston

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The Moody Center for the Arts, designed by Los Angeles–based Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), is a 50,000-square-foot, $30 million center located on the campus of Rice University. It serves the campus and general public as an experimental platform for making and showcasing works across disciplines through deliberately flexible interior spaces.
  • Facade Manufacturer Endicott (brick units)
  • Architects Michael Maltzan Architecture
  • Facade Installer Linbeck (contractor); Dee Brown, Inc (masonry subcontractor); Duke Glass (glazing systems)
  • Facade Consultants Thornton Tomasetti (facade consultant); Guy Nordenson and Associates (structural engineer)
  • Location Houston, TX
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System steel frame, masonry veneer, curtain wall
  • Products Manganese Ironspot norman masonry brick units by Endicott; first floor curtain wall & second floor windows by Oldcastle; Glazing by Guardian
The building is generally composed of three long narrow blocks, set along an east-west campus grid. The structure references typological buildings and their related exterior quadrangle spaces on Rice University’s campus, which stem from an early 1900s masterplan by Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram. "We had this fantasy that, if you could take all of the campus and squish together its long rectangular buildings with its exterior quads, you would combine both formal and informal ways of making connections and learning," said Michael Maltzan, founder of Michael Maltzan Architecture. "In that regard, we were alluding to the Moody as a microcosm of the entire Rice campus." The facade appears quite massive from far away, but as you get closer, it is revealed that the facade is actually quite thin and permeable. This is most apparent through a "floating" outdoor canopy that frames an arcade running parallel along the building's primary north elevation. The facade here is framed by steel and integrates a secondary steel web that spans from the second floor to the roof continuously along the entire facade. This web encloses “lanterns,” or volumetric voids in the massing of the building, and wraps around starburst-shaped columns which bookend the composition. These iconic columns carry the load of the steel and masonry structure at each end of the building. A double angle detail provides a crisp bearing shelf for the brick facade. At the east lantern, the brick surface is installed as screen wall configuration. To achieve this, threaded stainless steel rods were integrated into the hollow cells of the brick units, which were installed in a 1/3 running bond pattern. Andrea Manning, associate at Michael Maltzan Architecture, said this allowed for selective bricks to be omitted, producing a unique perforated floating masonry screen. "It was a technical challenge to make brick work this way while maintaining a light and delicate structure," she said. Maltzan said this building uniquely brings together a lot of programmatic elements they have worked on in the past. "There aren't that many examples of this new type of building whose ambition is to be [a] extremely cross-disciplinary hype-collaborative center where lots of different unexpected individuals, groups, artists, technical people all come together. One of the biggest challenges is to anticipate the wide range of activities that might take place without any of that being determined yet when designing the building. To try and build in the right amount of flexibility without flexibility completely taking over the building in such a significant way that it compromises any parts of the program. Getting this right was a big learning curve for everyone involved on the project." The brick is a dark manganese ironspot brick, which Maltzan says produces a surface that is animated by the dynamic quality of the atmosphere of the site. “Brick often feels like it is very stable and unchangeable. The manganese brick is black, but over the course of the day with changing lighting conditions, it can take on the appearance of metal, deep purple, or sky blue. That quality, along with the thinness of the assembly gives a new reading and character to brick which we are very excited about.” Beyond the facade, at the heart of the Moody is a double-height “Creative Open Studio” that anchors the building in plan and section. This space was imagined by the architects as an interior version of the typical campus quad. “This interior landscape brings the most diverse programmatic functions into contact with one another, while opening views out to the campus,” said Maltzan. The cross-disciplinary building establishes a new arts district on campus, with proximity to the Shepherd School of Music and the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace on the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion. The facility will be programmed, but it’s also a place where the public can be inspired, with public shows and free admittance year-round.
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Take a look at the new Emancipation Park in Houston

[UPDATE 6/13/2017: This article has been updated with images of the finished project.] Emancipation Park in Houston has undergone a major transformation courtesy of Chicago-based Perkins + Will. The revamp to the 10-acre park has been a long time coming. Preliminary work began in 2011, but now the project is finally complete, offering a new "Recreation Center" and spiraling sculpture that reflects the vision of the park's founders. Opened to the public in 1872 by its founders, Reverend John Henry “Jack” Yates, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, and Reverend Elias Dibble, Emancipation Park is firmly rooted in African-American history. At the time of its opening, the park was the first truly public park in Houston. In the years that followed, it became a vibrant space, hosting games of tennis and volleyball as well as numerous other community activities. Boasting a swimming pool from the 1930s, the site was also the only place where African-Americans could swim in the city. Come the 1960s however, times had changed and the cosmopolitan aura had run aground. After construction of U.S. Route 59 and policies of segregation carved up Houston's Third Ward district, the park's state drastically declined as affluent African-Americans left the area. Friends of Emancipation Park, however, started to make changes in 2007, initially by cleaning up the place. By 2011, Philadelphian architect Phil Freelon with his North Carolina–based firm, The Freelon Group, were working on a much bigger plan to give the park a much-needed facelift. Freelon has a well-established pedigree in such typologies. Of late, he has worked on almost all buildings dedicated to black heritage  in the Eastern Seaboard: The International Civil Rights Center and Museum (Greensboro, NC); the Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco); the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (Charlotte); the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture (Baltimore); the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (Atlanta), and finally the crown jewel to date: the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Now acting as project principal and design director at Perkins + Will (since 2014), Freelon has seen Emancipation Park finally completed. Along with the aforementioned Recreation Center and sculpture, the rejuvenated park now has a new pool and a canopied plaza which provides a welcoming front porch and cover for the park's main entrance. On the north side of the new building—which faces the major event lawn—the canopy functions as the band shell. Down the south side, the roof structure provides shading and filters daylight into the gymnasium that is housed inside the Recreation Center along with a fitness center and a multi-purpose room which can accommodate meetings, banquets, and balls. "The design of the new Emancipation Park Recreation Center is a reflection of the community’s goals and aspirations," said Freelon speaking to The Architect's Newspaper. Freelon added that new sculpture was meant to symbolize hope. "It looks forward, to the future. It's a positive symbol," he added. The exterior of the Recreation Center comprises a series of panels that range in earth tones. "From a deep brown to a rich rust color, the varying shades are reminiscent of the historic painted tin roofs that remain prevalent in the Third Ward today," Freelon continued. "This 'patchwork' texture also symbolizes the coming together of the community in support of the revitalized Emancipation Park, its programs and the celebration of Juneteenth."
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Artist Analia Saban gets her first solo show at the Blaffer Museum

Analia Saban, the first solo museum survey of Analia Saban’s career, calls into question the very notions of painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography as valid art forms, challenging the limits and capacities of each medium by exposing the ideological repercussions for gender and labor that are embedded within. For example, The Painting Ball uses strips of fabric from unraveled paintings and rolls them into a sphere, while the Draped Marble series employs broken marble fastened to crafted wooden sawhorses, evoking towels left out to dry. As the artist insists on a speculative condition for her work within the context of media determinacy, sculptures such as these, together with the others on display, displace classic associations of material and application within narratives of art history and consumer culture.

Analia Saban The Blaffer Museum University of Houston 120 Fine Arts Building, Houston Through March 18, 2017

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SWA’s plan to integrate a mile-long informal market with nearby Houston

Airline Drive in Houston is (unsurprisingly) located a 20-minute drive from George Bush Intercontinental Airport and just short of that from Houston’s city center. Since 2005, the area has been known as the Airline Improvement District (AID), part of a scheme from Harris County to revitalize the four-square-mile area and improve “its desirability for residents, consumers and businesses.”

While the AID has been running for more than a decade, issues such as a lack of centralized water service, poor road and pedestrian infrastructure, and bayou flooding still hamper the area’s development. In fact, 50 percent of the district’s land lies within a floodplain—a problem that impacts water and sewage services as well as housing.

“There is no money dedicated to flood relief coming for another 50 years,” said Kinder Baumgardner, managing principal at Dallas-based landscape architecture, planning, and urban design studio SWA. “As a result, all the major urban development that one would want to do is not going to happen until the flooding is dealt with.”

SWA is in the process of implementing a master plan that will maximize the pre-existing communal infrastructure at the AID with the long-term aim of using revenue generated by the resulting businesses to combat flooding in the future. A key part of this plan involves the five major flea markets that can be found on Airline Drive between Gulf Bank Road and Canino Road. Baumgardner said that on weekends, approximately 50,000 people travel to these markets—dubbed Market Mile—“doubling, if not tripling the vicinity’s population.” Though quiet during the week, he described it as a weekend “festival,” albeit blighted by “unresolved” pedestrian circulation.

To SWA, these flea markets are a potential source of infrastructure capital—if the tax base can be expanded that is. (The district currently generates revenue through a one percent retail sales tax). Baumgardner explained that the studio took two approaches to boost the area.

Rebranding Market Mile would advertise the flea markets to a wider audience. The Harris County-Airline Improvement District Livable Centers Study carried out by SWA in 2009 found that just over half of the visitors frequent the market weekly, 46 percent of visitors stay two to four hours each time, and 41 percent visit other businesses in the area while at the market. And of this demographic, which is 90 percent Hispanic, only two percent either cycle or walk in.

In 2009, Harris County pledged $2.9 million to be spent on pedestrian improvements, a scheme that involved two new, signalized crosswalks on Airline and sidewalks on much-used streets. Harris County, however, does not view sidewalks favorably. The county has a policy of only installing sidewalks on new roads if a city or another source finances it. “It’s an expense that doesn’t have to do with transportation,” Mark Seegers, a spokesman for Harris County commissioner Sylvia Garcia told the Houston Chronicle. “The county does not do sidewalks; it’s not what gets cars from point A to point B.” Subsequently, planned sidewalks from SWA will be financed by Airline Improvement District.

SWA’s logic is that, if more people can come to the popular flea markets, more revenue will be generated due to more businesses being set up as a result of greater demand. SWA’s plan works both ways. If the market can’t come to the people, then the market can come to them through what they call “mobile community infrastructure.”

A fleet of retail and food trucks would be able to extend the services of Market Mile to those who don’t have access to it. Taking advantage of regulations (or lack thereof) found outside the city of Houston, such trucks could set up chairs and canopies, becoming a permanent location if they find success in a particular area, Baumgardner explained.

In the future, these trucks could provide more than just goods. SWA’s survey found that just over 30 percent of the AID population had an education no higher than ninth grade. Baumgardner went on to say how the trucks could provide educational facilities too, thus attracting more than just shoppers to the mobile market.

Additionally, 57 percent of people said they would take part in health awareness programs if given the opportunity to do so. Meanwhile, 43 percent said they would participate in job training and finance and business development programs.

“There’s a food truck culture that’s sweeping the country, especially in Houston,” said Baumgardner who added he met someone who already has a bookmobile in the area– perhaps a sign that the project is slowly taking off. Baumgardner concluded: “We want this district to have all the things that a livable center should be planning toward, but we also wanted to look at how a project could get going, even at a limited scale.”

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Houston’s newest theater has its own two-story open-air “street”

To tell a story, three elements are crucial: setting, plot, and characters. To tell a story well, these three essentials require refinement and time to reveal them. The setting—Houston—provides the context, and the plot—how to design and build a new theater in Midtown—is compelling. The characters—a vibrant mix—complete the challenge that’s been thrown to Lake|Flato Architects and Studio RED.

Located off Main Street at the Ensemble/HCC MetroRail stop, the site was formerly a chain-linked parking lot for the city permit building. After years of planning and fundraising with a strong arts board and consultant and philanthropic pledges, the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) came to life as a nimble metal-skinned building with glass-box theaters bisected by a double-height breezeway.

The $25 million community arts complex provides a central home base in Midtown for a spectrum of leading and emerging arts and culture organizations. The 59,000-square-foot facility consists of four dedicated theater spaces, rehearsal classroom spaces, and several gallery spaces, along with back-of-house support and office space.

Ryan Jones, an associate partner at Lake|Flato, knew that the building’s breezeway, with its grandstand and functional connective artery, was key, but it took some convincing that a two-story open-air “street” for media projections would thrive given the heat and humidity that swallow most days in Houston. The solution was to install six Big Ass Fans, which keep outdoor public spaces comfortable by exhausting hot air through the chimney effect.

The building’s agile presence does not overtake its program. For this new Midtown theater and arts center, the soul of the building is internalized, and life illuminates from within the breezeway, theaters, rehearsal spaces, and control booths. The building remains in the background, allowing the exuberance of theater life and the visual arts to stand in the limelight. Its skin and structure have a subdued, protective strength amid the bustle and frenzied transactions of Travis Street traffic that includes Main Street light-rail interruptions, bus stops, church, college, and urban passersby, daily logistics, ticket sales, and cafe pauses. For Lake|Flato and Studio RED, the decision to invite the street into the building is best exemplified by their addition of graffiti art by GONZO2047 where patrons’ names are tagged on the bathroom walls to merge high art and street culture.

Houston, as described by Barrie Scardino, Bill Stern, and Bruce Webb in their book Ephemeral City, was “built around characteristic features of modern life such as rapid change, built-in obsolescence, indeterminacy, media orientation, a culture of style, and instant gratification.” It is indeed an ephemeral city, hard to pin down and understand at large, but perhaps easier to encapsulate in one permeable space.

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2016 Best of Design Award for Civic Institution: Architecture of Buffalo Bayou Park

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it’s grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you. 2016 Best of Design Award for Civic Institution: Architecture of Buffalo Bayou Park Architect: Page Location: Houston, TX

As part of a varied program of structures commissioned for Houston’s three-mile long Buffalo Bayou Park, Page’s pavilion is designed to withstand the area’s frequent flooding. Solid board-formed concrete piers provide resistance to flood damage and are paired with an expressive steel frame and delicate steel screens to create shade. When a severe flooding event occurred just after completion of the structures, no damage was sustained.

Landscape Architect SWA Group

Environmental Consultant Hunt & Hunt Engineering Corp. Contractor Millis Development & Construction Wood Supplier US Lumber Brokers Railing Manufacturer Pool Custom Ironworks

Honorable Mention, Civic Institution: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

Architect: Architecture Research Office Location: New York, NY

To provide a home for the world’s largest LGBTQ Jewish community, ARO renovated a landmark Cass Gilbert–designed warehouse to create a synagogue that embodies the community’s core values of transparency, intimacy, warmth, and flexibility.

Honorable Mention, Civic Institution: Museum of Neon Art

Architect: Shimoda Design Group Location: Glendale, CA

The renovated 8,400-square-foot building and public pedestrian space infuses a new sense of cultural and pedestrian connectivity in downtown Glendale. Shimoda Design Group kept the interior of the gallery space as raw as possible, while maximizing its existing volumes to include a neon workshop, classroom, and museum shop.

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2016 Best of Design Award for Adaptive Restoration: The Cotton Gin at The Co-Op District by Antenora Architects

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it’s grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you. 2016 Best of Design Award for Adaptive Restoration: The Cotton Gin at The Co-Op District Architects: Antenora Architects Location: Hutto, TX

As part of a new master plan for this 16-acre former agricultural co-op site, two cotton gin buildings were adapted into an open-air public events space. Perforated stainless steel on the south facade fills the area with diffused natural light while accentuating the delicacy and elegance of the original structure.

Structural Engineer Architectural Engineers Collaborative [AEC] Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing TTG General Contractor American Constructors Wall Panels Centria Lighting Supplier ERT Lighting

Honorable Mention, Adaptive Restoration: The Cistern

Architect: Page Location: Houston, TX

A minimal approach was taken to repurpose the 90-year-old decommissioned drinking water reservoir cistern into a destination and civic art space that is accessible and enjoyable. Soft LED lighting from the entry tunnel continues in transparent handrails around the perimeter of the 221 concrete columns within 87,500 square feet.

Honorable Mention, Adaptive Restoration:  Fisher Hill Reservoir Park Gatehouse

Architect: Touloukian Touloukian Inc. Location: Brookline, MA

This former reservoir was acquired by a local municipality to serve as a new soccer field. The original 1887 gatehouse became a restroom and the restoration includes full masonry re-pointing, roof and window replacement—a thoughtful marriage of the historic and the modern to preserve a strong sense of place.

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The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston showcases photographer who documented NYC streets for nearly 50 years

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will pay tribute to Helen Levitt, the American photographer known for capturing scenes of urban life in New York City. The exhibition, titled Helen Levitt: In the Street, covers her career from the late 1930s to the mid-1980s. It features more than 40 works, as well as her 1948 short film In the Street, which centered on her early photographs of children. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Levitt was included in the inaugural exhibition of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art, and she had her first of three solo shows there just three years later. By the late 1940s, Levitt had begun experimenting with the moving image, and worked full-time with film until the advent of color photography in 1959. It was then that she picked up the camera to revisit the scenes she had captured in black-and-white.

Helen Levitt: In the Street The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 5601 Main Street, Houston Through January 2

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Inside the just-launched plan to save the Astrodome

The disused-but-beloved Houston Astrodome may have finally found its savior.

In early October, the commissioners of Harris County approved a $105 million proposal to reconfigure the aging Astrodome for events and concerts. Plans call for the floor of the vacant stadium to be raised so approximately 1,400 parking spaces can be built underneath.

Designed by two firms—Hermon Lloyd & W. B. Morgan, and Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson—in the mid-1960s, the 18-story Astrodome was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. When it opened, it was the U.S.’s first enclosed and air-conditioned multipurpose stadium and boasted the largest clear span dome ever built. Before it shuttered in 2000, the Astrodome served as home field for the Houston Astros, the Houston Oilers, and the University of Houston Cougars. It reopened briefly in 2005 to accommodate New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Legacy aside, the Astrodome’s age and size present distinct financial challenges to adaptive reuse. Maintenance costs run to $170,000 annually, but tearing down the structure would cost $30 million. The just-approved proposal is all taxpayer funded:property taxes, hotel tax, and parking revenue will each contribute to a third of the cost, while 10 percent of the funds will go toward finding an architect and engineer to design the renovation. Once (if) the plan is complete, revenue from parking will be plowed back into the venue to make the project financially viable.

If the architect and engineer’s design ends up costing more than $105 million, however, the county will not cover the shortfall—local government will employ other, to-be-determined financing methods. Taxpayers defeated a measure to resurrect the stadium in 2013 over cost concerns, so it’s too soon to tell if this latest plan will bring the Astrodome back.

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Artist Jonathan Schipper continues to explore gradual destruction in latest installation

Jonathan Schipper creates a new installation for his latest exhibition, Cubicle: an office setting that will undergo subtle, yet inescapable changes over the course of two months. It is a continuation of his work that includes The Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle, in which two full-size automobiles crash into each other, simulating the force of a 30-mile-per-hour head-on collision, but over several days. The cubicle is meant to be a signifier of the not-too-distant past. Time has transformed the concept of the cubicle from a utopian vision of workplace comfort and privacy to an obsolescent remnant, giving way to the open office plan. Similarly, Schipper’s Cubicle will undergo mechanical stress for the duration of the exhibition.

Cubicle Rice Gallery 6100 Main Street, Houston Through December 4

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Architecture Research Office to renovate Rothko Chapel in Houston

New York City-based Architecture Research Office (ARO) has been selected to lead the renovation and master planning of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, the home of 14 monumental panels by artist Mark Rothko. The chapel's interior was designed to the artist's precise vision. ARO will seek to improve the Chapel’s interior lighting and its presentation of Rothko’s panels by renovating the skylight, the interior light baffle, and the electric lighting systems in collaboration with lighting designers from George Sexton Associates. According to a press release, the project will also include improvements to the HVAC system and acoustics, and the entry vestibule will be redone to better enhance the visitor experience, all while maintaining a close eye toward Rothko’s original intent for the space. The master planning portion will address the outdoor plaza and reflecting pool containing Barnett Newman’s sculpture Broken Obelisk, as well as several adjacent edifices. Given that the chapel’s neighboring institutions, the Menil Collection and the University of St. Thomas, are both undergoing extensive renovations, the plans for Rothko Chapel seek to elevate its visibility while maintaining its identity and function as a quiet sanctuary. ARO has a history of working with leading universities and cultural institutions and is the winner of the 2011 National Design Award for Architecture from the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum.