08/22/16 11:30am

Richmont Square apartments, 1400 Richmond Ave., Montrose, Houston, 77006

Richmont Square apartments, 1400 Richmond Ave., Montrose, Houston, 77006The remaining 2 thirds of the vacant Richmont Square complex are getting a few exterior decorating touches, a reader notes — among the increasingly wild parking lot median strips, many of the trees lining the Richmond-facing parking lot are sporting some new ribbons as of last week. The complex’s final tenants received an early-spring everybody-out notice, with the promise of demolition left hanging some time after the now-past May 1 move-out deadline.

What’s planned next for the space, once the last of the late-1960s apartment buildings are cleared out? Some clues come from the campus master plan map released in the Menil Collection’s 2014 annual report — 2 separate blocks south of the under-construction Drawing Institute are depicted where Richmont Square’s leftovers still stand, respectively hosting a wiggly-trailed park and a pale blue rectangle labeled for “future mixed-use” development:


Menil Collection Curation
07/18/16 2:45pm

Menil Drawing Institute construction, July 2016

Proposed Menil Drawing Institute by Johnston Marklee, West Main St., Montrose, HoustonReader and mixed-media picture-maker Bob Russell sends along an update to his previous shots of the site of the Menil Drawing Institute, now preliminarily sketched into place in broad steel strokes. The framework shown at the top appears to be outlining that western interior courtyard that showed up in Johnston Marklee’s previous renderings of the building, which is going up where the now-level back third of the Richmont Square apartment complex once stood.

The Menil says construction should wrap up some time next year. Here’s a few more angles on all the angles already in place:


Refining the Line Work
02/12/16 10:00am

ROTHKO CHAPEL LIGHTING COULD GET REDONE WITH FUNDS FROM ONLINE CLOTHING AUCTION Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon St., Montrose, Houston, 77006Reworking the Rothko Chapel’s lighting scheme is high on the wishlist of things to fund with proceeds from an online auction opening this Monday, David Leslie tells Cara Smith of the HBJ. While no specific plans to modify the space are set yet, the chapel’s executive director hopes changes over the next few years will help with “presenting the chapel in a holistic way that’s inviting, regardless of the day, time or lighting” — though Leslie also reflects that “the mystery of the chapel is that it does change with the light throughout the day, and it’s not static.” The auction is the brainchild of international socialite and chapel board member Lynn Wyatt, who will be putting some of her own high-end couture and art prints on the docket, alongside contributions from a few friends (including Wes Anderson, Elton John, and Tilda Swinton). Other items on the 1971 chapel’s maybe-to-do list: visitors services infrastructure for its 90,000-plus annual pilgrims, conference space, and some pool maintenance. [HBJ] Photo of the Rothko Chapel: Brandi Lynn via Swamplot Flickr pool

02/01/16 2:45pm

THE REST OF RICHMONT SQUARE PREPARES TO GET LEVELED Richmont Square Apartments, 1400 Richmond Ave., HoustonResidents of the Richmont Square apartments learned today that they have until May 1 to get out of the way of the bulldozers, writes Erin Mulvaney of the Houston Chronicle. The apartments, which are owned by the Menil Foundation, will be brushed away to make room for upcoming phases of the Menil’s unfolding master plan, announced back in 2009. The back third of the 1960s complex facing Richmond Ave was demolished at the start of 2015  to free up space for an extension of W. Main St.; the Menil’s new Drawing Institute is currently being penciled in to the north of the remaining apartments. Richmont Square’s leasing office began to offer only month-to-month contracts by early January, though a set date for the eventual teardown had not been made public at the time. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: John Ronald via Flickr

07/16/15 2:00pm

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, Houston

Key Maps Store, 1411 W. Alabama St., Montrose, HoustonYou have until tomorrow, maybe, to grab some of the cartographic treasures remaining at the longtime Inner Loop home of Key Maps, Houston’s homegrown map company. Items you buy will be 70 percent off — or free if you fish them from the yellow Dumpster parked out front at 1411 W. Alabama. But it’s a pretty chaotic scene, a reader tells us: Framed wall-maps, Key Map books that used to be found in the back seat pocket of most Houston cars, and other items are being loaded into moving trucks in preparation for a relocation to a new storefront at 5622 Richmond Ave., on the north side of the strip near Chimney Rock.


Which Way from West Alabama
05/13/15 3:45pm

MENIL COLLECTION WINS SPECIAL APPROVAL FROM CITY OF HOUSTON TO PAVE LESS Planned Changes to Menil Collection, Showing Boundaries of Special Parking Area, Montrose, HoustonWith the approval granted by city council today, the 30-acre campus surrounding the Menil Collection now qualifies as Houston’s first-ever special parking area. The new status will allow the Menil to provide just 1.8 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. of gallery, bookstore, and classroom space within the district, rather than the 3 per 1,000 sq. ft. normally required under city ordinances. The rules would apply on the blocks bounded by W. Alabama, Mandell, Richmond, and Yupon and Graustark. A plan delineating these boundaries included in a parking study conducted for the Menil (above) shows — among other additions provided for in the institution’s new master plan — a new park on the middle portion of the site of the Richmont Square Apartments, immediately south of the Menil Drawing Institute, now under construction along an eastward extension of W. Main St. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Plan: Lockwood, Andrews, and Newnam (PDF) 

02/19/14 1:15pm

Proposed Menil Drawing Institute by Johnston Marklee, West Main St., Montrose, Houston

The Menil Collection released details of the low-slung design L.A. architects Johnston Marklee have put together for the new Menil Drawing Institute, which is being touted as the “first freestanding facility in the United States created especially for the exhibition, study, storage, and conservation of modern and contemporary drawings.” And staring at the renderings, the institute’s future sure looks bright. There’s the bright exterior walls, lit by the Houston sun; the white steel-plate roof that’s supposed to look like it’s hovering over the building and 2 surrounding courtyards — “rather like a folded sheet of paper,” in the architects’ words. But the inside of the building, where the drawings are displayed, it’s going to be dark.


A New Menil, Facing West Main St.
11/04/13 11:30am

The new Menil Drawing Institute building, being designed by LA architects Johnston Marklee (winners of last year’s competition), will sit on land currently occupied by the Menil’s Richmont Square apartment building. The arts institution doesn’t have plans to tear down the entire apartment complex, however: Drawings submitted to the planning commission as part of a variance application show only the northernmost bank — at the back of the site — wiped clean.


06/11/12 12:04pm

Brave Architecture’s new Sicardi Gallery across from the Menil parking lot is “pretty amazing,” declares Glasstire art critic Kelly Klaasmeyer, who was there for Thursday’s opening opening. The 2-story 5,800-sq.-ft. stucco-and-steel structure is a big step up from the gallery’s small previous space next to the McClain Gallery on Richmond. That lone window on the second floor of the new building facing West Alabama is designated as a rear-projection screen for exhibited videos, but they’re not showing yet:


01/11/12 12:01pm

The Sicardi Gallery’s impending move to its new Brave Architecture building currently under construction at the corner of West Alabama and Mulberry in Montrose (above) should send a few ripples through the local gallery landscape, art blogger Robert Boyd notes. Headed for the current Sicardi Gallery space at 2246 Richmond (across the street from Blue Fish House and the Hobbit Cafe), according to Boyd’s sources, will be Thom Andriola’s New Gallery:


11/05/09 1:26pm

Communications director Vance Muse tells the River Oaks Examiner‘s Michael Reed that the foundation’s board won’t replace the bargain-rent Richmont Square Apartments in a way that’ll change the character of the Menil campus:

“It’s on our mind that we could, in a low-key Menil way, build a (residential) property along Richmond Avenue,” he said.

Apartments at Richmont Square range from $650 for one-bedroom, one-bath units of 575 square feet to $955 for two-bedroom, two-bath units of 1,064 square feet. Deposits are between $250 and $300.

Asked about the possibility of the Menil plan including dwellings that are priced similarly to what would be replaced, Muse said specifics have not been discussed yet.

“We’d like to keep it bohemian, if at all possible,” he said. “There has always been a commitment (by Menil) to offering a break.”

Photo of Richmont Square parking lot, 1400 Richmond Ave.: River Oaks Examiner

10/08/09 5:42pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BEFORE RICHMOND HALL WENT LIGHT AND QUIET “. . . The building was the original Weingartens grocery store. Then in the 1960’s /1970’s it was the Texas Opry House. Then in the early 1980’s it was the Parade Disco (yes,the Parade Disco of New Orleans Bourbon Street, fame or infamy, depending on how one looks at it). The place rocked . . . Monday nights was punk rock night and it was real punk, not the poseur “punk”. But Friday & Saturday nights was gay disco. Some of the best music ever. Then the Menil converted it into [Richmond Hall] . . . it houses Dan Flavins awesome light sculpture. [Tim, commenting on Chipperfield Sculpts the New Menil: Goodbye, Richmont Square]

05/29/09 6:03pm

Director Josef Helfenstein tells Cite magazine’s Raj Mankad that the new campus plan architect David Chipperfield is developing for the Menil Collection won’t necessarily involve the demolition of the Richmont Square apartment complex at 1400 Richmond.

The blocks along Richmond could become more dense than the other parts of the campus and serve as a buffer. The Dan Flavin installation – it was the last big piece done while Dominique was still here and Flavin’s last commission before he died – could become a gateway to the North. I actually think, if we do things right, Richmond Hall could help us to eventually integrate commercial development that has high standards with the artistic program we have in mind.

Photo of Richmond Hall and Richmont Square: Raj Mankad

02/02/09 10:21am

THE RICHMOND LIGHTS SHALL NOT BE MOVED Deputy director Emily Todd lists the “guiding principles” behind the Menil’s planned expansion for the Chronicle‘s Douglas Britt: “Just going down the list: environmentally sustainable design principles; no alteration to the original museum buildings or the Cy Twombly (Gallery); the Dan Flavin/Richmond Hall installation cannot be relocated. … The relationship between the Menil buildings to the Rothko (Chapel) and the Byanztine Chapel have to be taken into account – something that is so beautiful. The … scale, ambience and residential quality of the neighborhood is of paramount importance, which I think is sweet. Any new buildings in the immediate vicinity of the president buildings will be of the scale of the Cy Twombly Gallery. Significant trees will be preserved, and building on an outdoor environment that encourages visitors and especially families, which you see if you come over here on the weekends.” [Arts in Houston; previously in Swamplot]