Posts tagged with "Texas":

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Department of Homeland Security begins acquiring land for border wall in Texas

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun to amass land along the United States-Mexico border in Texas as the agency makes preparations for the yet to be funded border wall expansion ordered by President Trump. Texas Observer reports that landowners along the border have begun to receive “Declaration of Taking” notices offering cash payouts for land along the border. The DHS letters also threaten the use of eminent domain to take the land if landowners refuse to agree to sell—landowners would still be compensated for their land in the event DHS utilizes eminent domain to acquire the property. The move is potentially controversial because many of the areas that do not already host sections of the existing border wall lie along sensitive or inaccessible terrain. Texas Observer reports the story of local landowner Maria Flores in the community of Los Ebanos near the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande forms part of the border between the U.S. and Mexico and the lands abutting the river were—until recently—protected from any type of new construction due to fears that structures would increase the likelihood of damage to local communities were the river to flood. That changed in 2012 when the American-controlled contingent of the International Boundary and Water Commission that oversees the U.S.-Mexico border area agreed to allow DHS build the wall along the Rio Grande floodplain. See Texas Observer for full text of the Declaration of Taking letter. BREAKING: Department of Homeland Security seeking white papers for “complete physical barrier” with Mexico ADPSR is calling all designers to submit protest proposals for Trump’s border wall The Architecture Lobby calls to resist Trump’s border wall project These architects want to critically engage with Trump’s border wall
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Lake|Flato Architects designing a new home for the Holdsworth Center in Austin

In West Austin along the Colorado River, a 44-acre site has been suggested as a home for the Holdsworth Center—a non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of state school education in Texas. The center will invite staff from six districts and work with Texas school district superintendents, principals, and administrators as part of the program.

At the time of writing, the project is currently going through planning, and a Planned Unit Development (PUD) application was submitted earlier this month to the city of Austin. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper, Justin Garrison of Lake|Flato Architects, the San Antonio firm behind the scheme, said they were trying to "change the current zoning of single-family residential to make this project feasible in the future."

Of the large site, only half the land will be developed on while the rest of the natural landscape will be preserved. "The master plan aims to create an innovative retreat and educational center where users will be exposed to various collaborative learning and research opportunities within the facilities, as well as the freedom to engage the outdoors and surrounding landscape," said Garrison who added the design will "strive to be light on the land.... The Holdsworth Center aims to maintain the existing ecological zones on the site including the riparian and wetland edge along Lake Austin."

Along the waterfront is a thicket of cypress trees which visually separate the development from the water. Garrison explained further, describing how a few structures such as pavilions, day docks, and boat docks will protrude from the wooded riparian and upper bluff edges to give users 180 plus degrees of views overlooking the Pennybacker “360” bridge and surrounding hill country. "Within the project boundaries, the various buildings are located and oriented to frame various types and scales of open space, provide vistas across the natural meadow, allow a sense of the landscape, natural ecology, and water collection and treatment flow through the site, as well as provide optimal natural daylight within the buildings and solar energy collection," said Garrison.

Programmatically, the center will include an: educational learning center with classrooms and event spaces; administration offices for Holdsworth Center staff and visiting researchers; an academic village where users will be housed on site with a few casitas for extended stay users and various pavilions and day/boat docks (as mentioned above) to be used for educational, recreational and event purposes.

Austin-based Ten Eyck Landscape Architects are also working on the project. So far no dates for completion can be confirmed as the city is yet to vote on the PUD process. Lake|Flato also said they could not determine the project's cost. 

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New Dean Michelle Addington talks about her vision for UT Austin School of Architecture

This summer the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSoA) will be the latest school in recent years to appoint new leadership, welcoming Professor Michelle Addington of Yale University as its new dean. Addington will succeed Interim Dean Elizabeth Danze, who took the helm of the institution last year after the abrupt departure of Frederick Steiner. According to Maurie McInnis, the executive vice president and provost at UT Austin, “Michelle is a perfect fit.” She added that Professor Addington “brings fresh eyes and new ideas that will continue supporting the robust breadth and depth of interdisciplinary work happening at the school, and she will lead conversations that advance the field in the 21st century." The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) spoke with Addington last week about her vision for UTSoA, emerging issues for designers in the built environment, and her eagerness to be walking distance from Franklin’s Barbecue. AN: What initially interested you about UTSoA as an institution? Michelle Addington: I wanted this position for a very long time. I always kept my eye on different deanships and interviewed off and on over the years, but none of them felt right to me. When this became available, I knew it was one I really wanted. Part of it has to do with the fact that I come from a Texas family and there is a sense of home. My mother is from Austin, so it is a part of the country that really resonates with me. Another part of it has to do with the fact that [UTSoA] has such a storied legacy in the development of contemporary design education. One can look to the Texas Rangers... [they] were an incredibly formative part of architectural education. And, the fact that the full range of design disciplines are represented, everything from architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, urban design, community and regional planning, sustainable design, and historic preservation. And a robust combination of degrees from undergraduate to PhD. I feel that it's a place that is right for me as an individual but also a place where I feel as though I can bring my experience to the existing faculty and students and build on their strengths. In the last few years, the school has attracted significant funding and progressive initiatives. Examples include the U.S. DOT Transit Research Grant, a new faculty position for the study of Race and Gender, and a high-tech Robotics Lab, to name a few. Though these are early days, can you talk a little about these initiatives and the direction you see the school going under your leadership? If you think about the field of architecture writ large—about all of the design disciplines—they were heavily product-centric for centuries. The digital turn at the end of the 20th century brought forward methods that enable us to deal with multiple contexts, multiple terrains, and different kinds of content. We became incredible masters at manipulating this varied terrain but mostly in terms of dealing with what I consider to be ‘contested boundaries.’ It’s easy to think about a building as being bounded by its site and envelope. But when you start to look at [architecture] as an insertion for instance in ecological, economic, spatial, political boundaries, [it] can accurately map and open up questions that I don't think any other discipline can do. All of these initiatives—the DOT, the Robotics Lab, the program dealing with gender and racial diversity—are looking to insert [designers] into the center of questions that heretofore have been addressed by other disciplines. I think the University of Texas has been on the mark in recognizing what we need to do [in this respect] and it is one of the reasons I'm so excited to be there. One of the things that I spoke to the [UTSoA] faculty about was that I see interdisciplinarity differently than I think many traditional schools of architecture have seen it. All too often we think about how we fold in content from other disciplines—that is not interdisciplinarity to me. That's cherry picking information to support what it is one wants to do. Real interdisciplinarity actually means that you have to be involved in, understand, and affect the 'other'—other frameworks and conflicting points of view. And, you have to de-center yourself in order to do that. You are making some news as the first woman to be named dean of UTSoA, succeeding Elizabeth Danze as Interim Dean. Your credentials I think speak for themselves but do you perhaps have any thoughts about the increasing prominence of women in leadership positions at architecture schools? And in the profession? I have to correct that because Elizabeth Danze is the first woman dean [of UTSoA]. She may be interim but she is the trailblazer here. She is one of my favorite people. There are many ways that practice leads academia in terms of its reflection of the world at large. However, this is a case where practice is lagging. It's going to take some time. I think one of the things that would be interesting to talk about with a larger number of women in the field... is this idea of the ‘other.’ [Women] are used to being on the margins, away from the center, practicing on the edges. A number of years ago there was a book put together by Lance Hosey and Kira Gould called Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design. They had noticed there was a disproportionate number of women who were working in sustainable design. You are going to find this for a lot of interdisciplinary areas that are on the edge. I think that as we start looking, again, at this negotiated terrain that is not so centered on the building object, we are going to find and recognize a lot more parity from a gender standpoint. There might be some pendulum swinging for a while because we have big problems to deal with in this world. All I can wait for is the day when it doesn't even occur to someone to say ‘woman architect’ but simply ‘architect.’ I want that term to disappear from our [discourse]. As a public institution, UT Austin operates quite differently than a private school like Yale, where you currently teach. Recently, we have seen several controversial policies emerge in Texas such as Senate Bill 6 (the so-called “bathroom bill”) and the open carry law which went into effect last summer. With these in mind, how do you see architecture schools engaging with similar issues of public space and more broadly how does this translate into practice? I can't say yet how it translates into practice. But what I can say is these issues are another reason why I want to be at [UTSoA]. I want to come precisely because these debates are on the table. It is very easy to be critical of how others are thinking about particular situations, but part of understanding and embracing the 'other' is that you have to fully embrace it. You have to engage yourself in that discourse no matter what you believe for yourself. We are in a really messy world. We are not going to be able to come up with solutions by bracketing ourselves and narrowing our domains or territories so that we are only surrounded with like-minded individuals. I am most interested in figuring out how we negotiate these radically different voices. How we map progress that accepts these differences yet at the same time protects the most vulnerable. In design disciplines, we have an enormous responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of society at large which means we have to tackle these issues head on. What we really need to do is figure out how to engage. On a lighter note, you will begin your post on July 1st of this year; and, as you well-know having attended Tulane, the south has an unforgiving summer heat. Weather aside, though, what are you looking forward to most about relocating to Austin?  Well, my grandparents lived outside of Dallas and I used to spend my summers at their unairconditioned ranch. I've never forgotten that. Number one, though, is BBQ. No matter what you try in the north nobody can make decent BBQ and I'm tired of my friends from New England constantly dragging me to places where they claim that it's the best BBQ—no. And driving, I shouldn't say this because I'm a sustainability person, but I miss a good road trip. I've never been to Marfa, that's so high on my list.
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Michelle Addington named dean at University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture has just announced the selection of a new dean: Professor Michelle Addington of Yale University. At Yale, Addington is the Hines Professor of Sustainable Development and she holds a joint appointment in Forestry and Environmental Studies and Architecture. The university hopes she will bring an "interdisciplinary perspective" to her new position. Here is the full announcement from the university:
Dear UT community, I am excited to announce that Michelle Addington will serve as the next dean of the School of Architecture effective July 1, 2017. Michelle comes to us from Yale University where she holds joint appointments in the School of Architecture as well as the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Educated as an architect and engineer, she brings an impressive array of experience and expertise, both in academia and applied practice. Over the past 20 years she has dedicated herself to education as a teacher, mentor, and leader at Yale and Harvard. Earlier in her career she worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and at DuPont as an engineer and manager. The interdisciplinary perspective she brings will be a tremendous asset to the school and university, and I am thrilled that she has agreed to lead one of the top architecture programs in the country. Michelle holds undergraduate degrees from Tulane University and Temple University, and master and doctorate degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her teaching and research focuses on sustainable energy systems, advanced materials, and new technologies. In 2009, Architect Magazine recognized her as one of the top ten architecture faculty in the nation. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Elizabeth Danze. As interim dean, I could not have asked for a more effective leader and partner throughout this process. She is highly respected by her colleagues and the campus community and has led the school with distinction this year. Please join me in thanking Elizabeth for her leadership and service. Michelle is an exciting addition to the Longhorn community. Please join me in welcoming her to UT. Sincerely, Maurie McInnis Executive Vice President and Provost The University of Texas at Austin
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1940s Texas gas station gets retro rebirth as new Megabus stop

Tim Derrington, founder of Derrington Building Studio in Austin, Texas, opened his firm during the recession when he found it was easier to find clients than jobs. He said his studio’s work is modern in concept, but more regional vernacular in aesthetic and style, always playing off the context. That rings particularly true in Derrington's most recent project, the adaptive reuse of a small gas station into a Megabus station. “Everybody has driven by or seen that building,” said Derrington. “It’s prominent and it’s background at the same time.” (It’s located a few blocks from the University of Texas and the state capital.) Built in 1941, it was originally a Conoco station that maintained much of its original character through the years. Derrington said that altering the building’s original exterior was out of the question; instead they would clean it up and celebrate its character. He felt it was important not to paint the building a bright color and insisted that the color white would accentuate the form and textures of the original structure. Luckily, Megabus agreed and the company's bright gold and blue scheme became accents that played off the structure’s more retro elements. The blue, in particular, Derrington said, connects the building to its context by playing off the big blue Texas sky. “It almost painted itself,” he added. Preserving the original tile work on the exterior was also deemed non-negotiable. “The building owner’s wife fell in love with the tile and it was mandated that ‘thou shall not touch the tile,’” Derrington explained. “Nobody wanted to anyway, it’s just a neat little feature.” The tile already matched the new color scheme, so it was easy to incorporate. Of the many retro features the studio kept, he said the Jetsons-like rings around the tops of the columns were one of the more iconic elements that spoke to the building’s roots. Although the quirky features like that give the building a lot of character, Derrington added that his favorite elements are the panoramic steel windows on the back façade. In order to keep the original windows, years of paint needed to be excised. “There were guys out there scraping for days,” he said. On the interior, the team removed everything, scraping all of the paint and finishes down to the original walls. They also added bathrooms and a kiosk for the waiting patrons; Kimberly Bruce of Designs and Details Interiors LLC designed the interior, including the selection of all the interior finishes. Derrington also credited Joey Chioco of Chioco Development, Inc. as general contractor on the project. Since its completion, the building has received a lot of attention from the community. “So many people were appreciative of the fact that we maintained the original character,” said Derrington. “It made me realize that this is a special building and it should be shared.” In the end, he said his studio was proud it could bring a diamond out of the rough. “The idea was to make this into something that is a desirable place, a nice place, to be so that bus travel no longer has this stigma,” Derrington said. Now that the station is complete, the studio is moving on with several other projects in Austin, including a few homes, a school, and an extension to a rock-climbing gym they designed.
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Dallas gets an architecture and urban design–focused high school

The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) approved plans to create a high school tailored for students interested in pursuing a career in architecture and urban design. In a proposal led by Peter Goldstein, an experienced architect and longtime DISD educator, and architect Lorena Toffer of Hoefer Wysocki Architects, CityLab will establish a four-year program in Downtown Dallas to explore design projects and topics as it pertains to global and local issues. “The idea is to use the city as a classroom, and to create a school where learning extends beyond the walls of the school and into the community itself,” Goldstein said.

The program, slated to begin in fall 2017, comes at a time where the Dallas community is actively vocal in a number of issues, from rapid transit expansion to historic preservation. Such a dialogue is ripe for students to explore and contribute at a very early stage in their professional development. “Dallas is a thriving, dynamic city that is growing at a very rapid pace; it is an ideal place for students to examine the nature and characteristics of urban life, and to become part of the process as our city continues to grow and evolve,” Goldstein said.

The school has and will continue to be built on collaborations between educators and members of the design industry. Students will see this impact within their studio-focused curriculum, from early conceptual development of ideas to dealing with various client and consultants groups. Goldstein explained, “The idea is to give students the opportunity to work side-by-side with design professionals and industry experts as they explore real-world problems and challenges, while developing a multidisciplinary understanding of the natural world, the built environment, and the social and economic systems of the city.”

More information on CityLab, as well as the team instrumental in creating the program, can be found on the “CityLab HS” Facebook page.

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Dallas AIA chapter announces 2016 Built Design Awards

Out of 46 submissions, the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has selected four projects to receive its 2016 Built Design Awards. This year’s recipients were selected by a jury composed of internationally renowned architects Matthew Kreilich, AIA, design principal and partner at Snow KreilichArchitects in Minneapolis; David Lewis, AIA, a founding principal at LTL Architects in New York; and Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, founding principal at Johnsen Schmaling Architects in Milwaukee. The final award recipients were selected based on each project’s unique response to its cultural, social, environmental, programmatic, and contextual challenges. “The 46 entries submitted for Design Awards this year were commended for their quality and representation by the jury,” said Michael Friebele, associate AIA, 2016 AIA Design Awards chair and senior associate at FTA Design Studio. “The six awarded projects were recognized as not only the best in design, but also for their unique range of program and context, a direct reflection of the expertise behind our jury this year. We are pleased to honor and celebrate the recipients and their contribution to the elevation of design in our community.” The jury also recognized two additional projects with citation awards.

1. Fire Station No. 27, Perkins+Will (Dallas)

Fire Station 27 was designed to re-establish a proper civic presence and foster a strong connection to the surrounding community that is often lacking in this building type. Responding to a compact site, Fire Station 27 was the City of Dallas’s first multistory station in over one hundred years. It consists of 23,600 square feet with two levels above grade and one level of parking below grade with capacity for 15 personnel per shift.

Jurors commended the project’s success as an urban infill building, as well as its strong organizing concept and celebratory story wall.

2. Prospect House, Max Levy Architect (Dripping Springs)

At this rural wedding and event center, celebrations are accommodated inside, outside, and on a big screened-in breezeway. Above the main hall is a huge wind vane whose mast extends down into the room and supports a 12-foot-diameter ring that turns with the breezes, connecting festivities inside with the world outside.

Jurors celebrated the thoughtful, restrained design, its elemental quality, and the overall modesty and simplicity of the project.

3. Hilti North America Headquarters, Gensler (Plano)

In the new Hilti North America Headquarters, the client’s top priority was celebrating the culmination of Hilti’s people and products. Not only was the entire office built exclusively with Hilti construction tools, over 26,000 modified Hilti products were woven into the architecture of the space—all intended to generate and showcase a pride in the product and the people who design, create, and market it.

Jurors praised the project’s clear concept, clean detailing, and the creation of shared spaces that foster interaction and collaboration.

4. Houndstooth Coffee and Jettison Cocktail Bar, OFFICIAL (Dallas)

The design for Houndstooth Coffee and Jettison Cocktail Bar was driven by the building’s dual function as a bar and a coffee shop and their shared connection. The design centers on an elemental concept of day to night, with Houndstooth filling the larger, sunlit space, and Jettison occupying the intimate back corner. High ceilings create openness in the coffee shop and a “floating” wood-clad volume, referred to as the cloud, serves as the central focal point, drawing the eye up while balancing the space and concealing the mechanical system. Jettison Cocktail Bar takes the inverse of the cloud design with a lowered ceiling and a central void looking into the painted gold trusses that have the character of a chandelier.

Jurors appreciated the elegant yet playful interiors, the creative use of light, and the duality of the distinct spaces.

Projects receiving Juror Citations are:

5. House at Rainbo Lake, Max Levy Architect (Henderson County)

Located in a swampy forest along a lake, this weekend retreat houses an extended family of sportsmen and nature enthusiasts. Each room is a separate building, and a screened in porch connects each building. Color is instrumental to this design, and coloration of exterior materials merges with the site.

6. Twin Gables, FAR + DANG (Dallas)

Set within a transitioning East Dallas neighborhood, this project bridges the traditional forms of the existing surrounding homes with a modern, high-density prototype. These duplex units embrace the length of the property and are designed around visual connections to a series of carefully composed outdoor spaces.

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No two projects from Austin-based Miró Rivera Architects look alike

As Austin has become the hippest city in Texas (to the excitement of millennials everywhere), its architectural scene has also become the liveliest, with Miró Rivera Architects, the Texas Society of Architects architecture firm of the year for 2016, as one of its shining stars. The practice began when Juan Miró—born in Barcelona and educated in Madrid—was working for New York City firm Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects, and was dispatched to Austin to oversee construction of an opulent villa commissioned by personal computer magnate Michael Dell. When the Dell House was completed in 1997, Miró realized he preferred the sunny Hill Country—with its passably Mediterranean climate—to Manhattan. Much like another émigré, the Viennese architect, Rudolf Schindler, who was sent to Los Angeles in 1920 by his boss, Frank Lloyd Wright, to keep tabs on a then-under-construction mansion for oil-heiress Aline Barnsdall, Miró decided to go out on his own afterward using the connections from the Dell House to get commissions (and crucially at first, also to get a steady teaching gig at the UT School of Architecture). Three years later, he was able to coax his Puertorriqueño brother-in-law, and fellow Gwathmey Siegel alum, architect Miguel Rivera, to join him and the firm was officially established in 2000.

As would be expected from a firm begun by transplants with such sophisticated pedigrees, the approach is decidedly cosmopolitan. This contrasts in an interesting way with the typical emphasis on formal regionalism espoused by the best-known modern architects in Texas, like O’Neil Ford and his spiritual descendants, Lake|Flato. These regionalists take inspiration from pre-industrial, rural buildings and tend to use specific local materials like limestone and brick. Miró Rivera’s projects, with their markedly varied, but always starkly modern appearances, appear almost to be the work of multiple firms, much like the multi-faceted Eero Saarinen. According to Rivera, the firm seeks to create an architectural vocabulary or iconography drawing from a variety of sources specific to the requirements of each commission. In this way, each project gets its own identity, but through the same analytic process, and through this dialectical exercise, the local becomes cosmopolitan.

Chinmaya Mission Austin, Texas

An educational center and worship space for a Hindu spiritual organization is an unusual program for central Texas—not known for accommodating a large South Asian immigrant population. Although strict budget constraints precluded the traditional stone temple the clients initially hoped for, the architects were able to devise a vocabulary of forms that could be built of inexpensive materials, but still recall typical Indian architectural typologies specific to the school and temple. Simple strategies, like alternating the colors of the metal roof panels and building a stone precinct wall of limestone slabs that could be individually sponsored as part of the fundraising effort, combined pragmatism and poetry.

Pedestrian Bridge Lake Austin, Texas

This bridge connects the main house on a property facing Lake Austin to a separate guesthouse. Its structure is made of several 80-foot-long, 5-inch diameter welded steel tubes that arc gracefully over a watery inlet separating the two buildings. The deck and sides of the bridge are made of half-inch steel rebar wrapped around the tubes. These common elements combined in an unexpected way evoke wetland plants growing on the site and transform what could be an intrusive element into a symbiotic, almost invisible link.

LifeWorks Austin, Texas

This headquarters was built for a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk children and families reorient their lives through educational programs and counseling. The architects physically suggested the organization’s mission by orienting it outward and opening it up to the neighborhood. The building is aligned to the edge of its site along a curving street with parking set to the rear. A continuous, three-story colonnade runs along this front-facing elevation. Its columns are slightly askew, an oblique reference to the organization’s clients, who come seeking support and assistance.Another design element doing double duty is the mix of three different exterior cladding materials, which alludes to the organization’s three cornerstones: counseling, education, and youth development.

Circuit of the Americas Del Valle, Texas

The 1,500-acre Circuit of the Americas, just outside Austin, is the first purpose-built Formula 1 racing facility in the United States. For this project, the architects were commissioned to design a 9,000-seat main grandstand, a 27-acre Grand Plaza, a central greenspace with a 14,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, and a 251-foot-tall observation tower. (A specialist German firm designed the super curvy track itself.) Naturally, the team looked to cars and auto culture for formal design cues. This is perhaps most clearly expressed in the band of sinuous red pipes shrouding the observation tower, the most prominent element on the site. According to Rivera, the idea for them came from watching the endless taillights of cars in the evening commute on the notoriously crowded Austin freeways winding their way through the city.

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Dallas Holocaust Museum inches toward construction

In late October, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum announced a series of steps to push a proposed new museum building into reality. With over two-thirds of funding secured, the museum launched a “Building a Foundation of Hope” capital campaign to raise the final portion of the $61 million budget needed to start construction.

The 50,000-square-foot structure will be built in Dallas’s West End neighborhood near Houston Street and the DART Rail corridor along Pacific Avenue. The property, which currently serves as a parking lot, will be transformed into a public building that will accommodate more than 200,000 visitors per year and nearly quadruple the amount of exhibition space that the museum currently boasts within its existing facility. “We are limited in the number of visitors we can see at one time, and many schools and thousands of students are not able to visit as their class sizes are too large for our current museum,” said Frank Risch who serves as the campaign co-chair for the new museum. “We have been forced to move many of our events to other venues.” The museum, awarded an Unbuilt Design Award by AIA Dallas in 2015, will take two years to complete from the start of construction.

The building, designed by Omniplan Architects, will serve as a vessel for remembering the Holocaust and its victims and will also extend the dialogue to human rights in modern America. “We need a place that allows us to have a discussion about what human rights, diversity, and respect for others mean for our city today,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings during the announcement of the capital campaign. Permanent exhibitions, under the direction of Michael Berenbaum, who served as the project director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., will feature engaging galleries and content as well as expanded resources and archives. The designers seek to engage the public in a manner that creates individual experiences, allowing one to connect with the museum in a very personal way.

Beyond the physical and metric constraints that drove the concept, the Holocaust Museum will fulfill a message that has been understated in the community, especially in the context of recent attacks. “At a time when Texas leads the nation in the number of active hate groups, and the Dallas community is still healing from the July 7 attack on local law enforcement officers, the most violent and hateful act against law enforcement officers since 9/11, we believe the mission of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is more important than ever,” said museum president and CEO Mary Pat Higgins.

This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect's Newspaper's coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

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“Military-inspired” design and decor defines this Texas hotel

The army may seem like an unlikely inspiration for a hotel, but it was the jumping-off point for Cavalry Court, a “military-inspired” 141-room motor court hotel, in College Station, Texas. Designer Rottet Studio chose corrugated metal and vintage brick to form a Spartan palette, while details, such as pool cabanas resembling field tents, complete the kitschy theme. Due to its proximity to Texas A&M University, the hotel features 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space to accommodate meetings, weddings, and receptions. Appropriately, guest rooms and suites have been dubbed “barracks” and “officers’ quarters” (but are sans soldier-style bunk beds), and “gourmet Texas cuisine” is served at the Canteen Bar & Grill. “Like the motor courts of yesteryear, Cavalry Court’s aesthetic coupled with Texas A&M cadet history uniquely captures the true essence of College Station, of Texas, and embraces a bit of Americana,” Valencia Group president Doyle Graham Jr. said in a statement.

Cavalry Court is near part of Houston-based developer Midway and Valencia Group’s 60-acre Century Square, a mixed-use development adjacent to the A&M campus. The George, a more upscale boutique hotel, will be located next door.

Cavalry Court 200 Century Court College Station, TX Tel: 844-313-7337 Developer: Valencia Group

This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

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This “Selfie Wall” explores the limits of personal data privacy

On January 3, 2017, El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico-based AGENCY Architecture took advantage of the selfie phenomenon, transforming a public park with a temporary installation and data privacy experiment dubbed the SELFIE WALL. AGENCY describes its practice as engaging contemporary culture through architecture, urbanism, and advocacy. By uncovering whether photo data remains private, SELFIE WALL aims to address concerns about how personal selfie culture really is. Thanks to metadata, a picture may really be worth a thousand words. According to AGENCY, selfies are a resource for third-party data-crunchers who use facial and pattern recognition software to extract identity and mood. Metadata is embedded in the photo file, social network post protocols, mobile device settings, and user-generated content, jeopardizing every selfie-taker’s individual data privacy. Located in El Paso/Ciudad Juarez (what AGENCY calls a "binational metropolitan region"), SELFIE WALL provided the ideal lighting and visual interest (a perfect selfie stage) to explore these issues. 162 custom-fabricated units and CNC-milled composite aluminum panels were folded to become surfaces for bouncing, scattering, and collecting light. Its rigid, multifaceted structure mimics stage lighting and the photo umbrellas used in portrait photography, film, and vanities. SELFIE WALL allowed for different lighting conditions for day and night, with LED lights providing different color temperatures for nighttime self-portraits. AGENCY is following up the installation, analyzing metadata from SELFIE WALL selfies uploaded to Twitter and Instagram that have an event-specific hashtag.
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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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