12/13/17 4:45pm

PETER H. BROWN, 1936–2017 Peter Brown, who passed away yesterday, wore many hats — he was an urban planner, architect, neighborhood activist, city council member, and occasional rapper — as well several distinctive long scarves. Amidst other civic legacies, he leaves behind a substantial back catalog of YouTube videos — in which an unseen cameraperson chronicles Brown’s peripatetic musings on various aspects of Houston’s occasionally urban landscape. As “Pedestrian Pete” on both a Facebook page and YouTube channel of the same name, Brown explored “the good, the bad, and the ugly pedestrian conditions of Houston”: He scoured neighborhoods in search of traversable sidewalks, railed against car-centric attributes of the Heights Walmart, and strolled along Lower Westheimer in conversation with Annise Parker, who had defeated him in his 2009 run for mayor. Brown was 81. [Houston Chronicle; previously on SwamplotVideo: Pedestrian Pete

12/04/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE ONLY MACKIE AND KAMRATH HOMES LEFT ON THE TIEL WAY LOOP “. . . My husband and I drove around Tiel Way after the storm to check on all the MacKie and Kamraths. There were several homes on the street that flooded — and not just by a few inches but into their second levels. One of the things that make the Kamraths of this era (and really, many high-end midcentury homes) so gorgeous and unique is the abundant use of wood panels for all walls, doors, built-in storage cabinets and seating — everything. But it also makes them particularly expensive and hard to fix after extensive water damage. As Swamplot reported earlier this year, the home at 2 Tiel Way was bought with the intention to restore but had so much termite and water damage it would have cost double to restore compared to a full rebuild price. So that’s what they are doing: rebuilding the same house. . . . It’s a controversial choice but in my opinion it’s the best architectural conservation alternative to demolition. But not everyone has the resources to undertake something like a full architectural rebuild. So while the demo of this house, one of Kamrath’s finest, is certainly a punch in the gut . . . I get it. They probably would have saved it if they could. Tiel Way was the last concentration of MacKie and Kamrath’s great residential works, at one point having 7 homes on the loop. After this demolition we will be down to 2.5: the Gold Brick–awarded restoration at 67 Tiel Way (which thankfully, did not appear to have Harvey flooding issues), Kamrath’s own residence at 8 Tiel Way (definitely flooded, but appears to be safe at the moment), and the rebuild currently in progress at 2 Tiel Way. 48 Tiel Way won’t be the only midcentury treasure lost to Harvey, but it’s certainly one of the saddest to see go.” [Rabbit, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Tiel Repeal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 48 Tiel Way: HAR

10/17/17 4:45pm

A couple of Houston architects have a proposal for the northern portion of the soon-to-be-shuttered Greenspoint Mall at the northeast intersection of Beltway 8 and I-45: Turning it into a driving range surrounded by 3 golf holes. Why such an abbreviated course? Well, there’s only so much land available. But Paul Kweton and Hidekazu Takahashi of Studio Paulbaut consider the paring down an attractive update to convention that could help to make the sport more accessible:

“It takes up to 5 hours to play a decent round of golf,” they write. Their Greenspoint green would offer a quicker golfing proposition: A round of golf in 60 minutes. 

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Greenspoint Greens
08/17/17 4:45pm

HOW THE NEW ARCHITECTURE CENTER HOUSTON WILL BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES WHEN HIGH WATER COMES What’s going to happen to the new exhibition, meeting, and office spaces at the Architecture Center Houston — set to reopen next month in its new location in the ground floor and former boiler room of the 1906 B.A. Riesner Building at 900 Commerce St., next to the Bayou Lofts and across from the Spaghetti Warehouse Downtown — in the very likely event that floodwaters rise from nearby Buffalo Bayou? Kyle Humphries of Murphy Mears Architects, the firm chosen to lead the reconfiguration of the space after a competition last year, tells the Architect’s Newspaper’s Jason Sayer that the designers imagined the interior as a bathtub, and accordingly wrapped a quarter-inch-thick plate made of aluminum around the interior on 2 sides: “’Our storefront system that faces Commerce Street is sealed and uses structural steel panels up to 3.5 feet long all along that facade,’ described Humphries. Furthermore, custom fills and seals on the doors (the profiles of which were manufactured in Switzerland) were prescribed with a custom-designed drop-in flood panel that can be operated by one person standing outside.” [The Architect’s Newspaper] Video walkthrough: Murphy Mears Architects

06/15/17 11:45am

Noticed that striking Meyerland Mod headlining our demolition report this morning? The 1956 home at 4815 Braesvalley Dr. first came to Swamplot’s attention 9 years ago, as the site of a remarkable scene. The then-86-year-old architect Lars W. Bang, a prolific purveyor of Modern Houston homes, was driven to the property in hopes that the real estate agent listing the 4-bedroom property might confirm that he was indeed its designer. “My husband, Jim, helped him out of the car and invited him into the house,” Meg Zoller wrote, “but Mr. Bang’s knees aren’t what they used to be . . . and he just wanted to stand out front and look at the house. After some time he decided that he could not confidently say whether the home was one of his designs or not.”

Bang passed away the following year, but not before his authorship of 4815 Braesvalley was confirmed. (It turned out his name was on a set of plans kept by the Meyerland Homeowner’s Association.) Writing in the next edition of the Houston Architectural Guide, Stephen Fox labeled it a home that “rescues Meyerland from being boring.” The plan contains 3 courtyard spaces, one of them now topped by a screen roof:

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Mod Be Gone
06/13/16 10:15am

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou Park

Proposed Observation Tower In Buffalo Bayou ParkArchitect Paul Kweton sends his idea for a multi-deck observation tower for Buffalo Bayou Park, adding to the list of unsolicited but interesting projects dreamed up for the public space. The plans and drawings show stairs spiraling continuously upward around a central elevator shaft, enclosed only by a giant net-like facade (as well as a smaller actual net preventing visitors from exploring the exterior of the structure).

Kweton has 2 potential locations in mind — the rendering above shows the tower on the lawn in Eleanor Tinsley Park, across the bayou from the now open Cistern (the long-defunct 1920s subterranean city water reservoir turned found-art piece and potential exhibit space).  The alternative spot is a little further west across Allen Pkwy., near the 1920s Gillette St. waste-incinerator site sold last year year for redevelopment into the Broadstone Tinsley Park Apartments:

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Dreamt Up Near Downtown
06/29/15 2:00pm

Houston Police Department Officer's Memorial Guard Post, Memorial Dr., Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston

Here’s the just-completed 250-sq.-ft. Memorial guard post recently completed in Buffalo Bayou Park. It’s right by that spot just south of Buffalo Bayou from Glenwood Cemetery where you’ll always find a cop car or 2, standing guard by the Houston Police Officers Memorial. The sculptor of that 1991 memorial, Jesús Moroles, was killed in an auto accident earlier this month. The new building, designed by Brave Architecture, is meant to allow the off-duty officers posted there to have more of a public presence as they keep an eye on the memorial through the large windows. It will also function as a small visitors center for the memorial.

Photo: José Luis Ayala Vargas

Guard Post
06/15/15 11:15am

Former Houston Post Building, Future Houston Chronicle Headquarters, 4747 Southwest Fwy., Houston

“It looks amazingly shiny without the 50 years of grime,” notes the reader who late last week snapped these photos of the former Houston Post building at 4747 Southwest Fwy., tucked into the lifted right armpit of the I-69-610 intersection. The brutalist main building of the 7-building campus, designed in 1970 by Astrodome architects Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson, is being powerwashed — with a significant portion of the work complete just in time for this week’s heavy rains.

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Powerwashed!
06/03/15 2:00pm

Demolition of Meadowcreek Park Basketball Pavilion, 5333 Berry Creek Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston

Crews tore down the Mod basketball pavilion in Meadowcreek Park on Monday. Its structure had been declared unsafe last August. The pavilion and community center at 5333 Berry Creek Dr. were built in 1961, following a design by Raymond Brogniez — the architect of the River Oaks-Lamar Shopping Center and the Sylvan Beach Pavilion.

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Coming Back in Steel
04/13/15 12:30pm

Offices of KinneyMorrow Architecture, 2219 Kane St. Old Sixth Ward, HoustonMarked down from 2314 to 2219 Kane St., KinneyMorrow Architecture’s new office in an old structure now on the corner of Sawyer St. is definitely not a house any more. Blame the slot.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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House Moves
04/09/15 11:30am

1704 Stuart St., Midtown, Houston

New photos posted to the listing of the dollhouse-like townhome under construction 2 blocks west of the Eastex Fwy. in Midtown appear to capture some sort of floral delivery in progress, a reader who’s been monitoring it notes. Between the arrival photo (above left) and the ready-to-go image next to it that appears to be the next in sequence, 5 new flower baskets appear on the grid masking the structure’s prominent garage forehead. The design by architect Martin James Lide morphs a shotgun house plan into a 2-story townhome configuration that manages to fit 3 bedrooms in 2,425 sq. ft.:

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Finishing Touches
04/02/15 4:00pm

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The craggy terrain backing Buffalo Bayou in River Oaks near the neighborhood’s decorative gates at Shepherd Dr. sprouted several Usonian-design inspired homes by the architecture firm of MacKie & Kamrath back in the fifties. One of the modernist properties that still remains on the Tiel Way loop landed on the market Monday — and it’s in near original shape, right down to the redwood siding and built-in furnishings. A 1957 structure noted in architectural circles for its angles, wedges, cantilevered terraces, and detail-layered ceilings, the bayou-view home on a ravine lot now bears a $2.5 million price tag.

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River Oaks Wrightists
03/16/15 5:00pm

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When architect Tom Wilson designed a contemporary residence for himself in West U back in 1977, he divvied the lot down the length, giving home and extensive poolscape each narrow side-by-side footprints. Twenty years later, the current owners took over, paying $535K for the privilege. Last week, the property popped up on the market with a $1.45 million price tag. Architectural guides peg the design as “a low-key medium tech house” engineered with steel and panels of metal and wood. The “front” door is on the side; it lies inside the porch and privacy screen (above) facing the street, which is located south of University Blvd. and west of Buffalo Speedway.

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Skinny But Loaded
02/17/15 4:30pm

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Architect Lars Bang gets the credit for the curb-facing original section (above) of a 1959 Meyerland mod built for the Alan Finger family, which kept it for 40 years. It was architect David D. Foster, however, who handled the 1974 additions that gave the home its “U” shape, furthering the floor-to-ceiling windows encircling the pool and patio (top). The home is located 2 blocks south of S. Braeswood Dr. and east of Millbury Dr., 4 houses away from the S. Post Oak stem of the 610 Loop. Its listing last week quotesa $739,900 price tag.

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House of Many Fingers
02/06/15 10:45am

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Will an auction accomplish what a previous listing didn’t for this Stern and Bucek-designed modern mansion in Southampton? The property had stuck to a $3.75 million asking price from September 2013 to June 2014 before calling a timeout. Its relisting by a new agent last week notes that when the auction kicks in later this month, the minimum starting bid will be . . .

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Auction Action