12/17/15 12:30pm

Sure, drone footage is great. But how often do you get to see 3 flying laboratories survey the breadth of Houston’s sprawl from this high up?

The trio of WB-57s shown surveying a hazy Houston in the video above are based at Ellington Field. The fleet is part of NASA’s WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, which regularly conducts scientific research and testing. Among its missions: mapping, collection of cosmic dust, support of rocket launches, and flights over hurricanes, including recent storms Joaquin and Patricia. Eerie faded-Emerald-City scenes of Downtown, the Galleria, the Med Center, and other vertical standouts unfold beneath the wingtips. The flight, which took place before Thanksgiving (but for which footage was only posted to YouTube this week) marks the first time since the early 1970s that 3 WB-57s have flown together.

Video: Johnson Space Center via Eric Berger

JSC Fleet in Flight
12/04/15 9:15am

Wildcat Golf Club, 12000 Almeda Rd., Pierce Junction, Houston

Looking for an overview of the new site of UT’s recently-announced Houston campus? Your best bet may be to stop in at the Wildcat Golf Club, located directly across Holmes Rd. from the site of UT’s planned purchase. Native Houstonians may experience a touch of vertigo trekking up the club’s grassy peaks to catch the view of NRG Park and downtown (see above) — hills on the site reach more than 115 feet above sea level in places. (Downtown, for comparison, stands at roughly 50 feet, and the big hill at Miller Outdoor Theater tops out around 65.)

The golf club’s topography is a byproduct of its original gig as a major municipal landfill, operating for nearly two decades until 1989; clay and topsoil were imported to sculpt the waste heaps into today’s smoothly rolling hills and water features:


Houston Hill Country
12/02/15 2:30pm

HOUSTON’S NEXT MAYOR CARES ABOUT YOUR MESSED-UP SIDEWALK Broken Sidewalk, Boulevard Oaks, HoustonSylvester Turner likes TxDOT’s plan to reroute I-45 around the east side of Downtown. Bill King has given up on riding his bike in the city because he feels it’s too dangerous. But both runoff candidates for mayor agree: Water quality is Houston’s most pressing environmental issue, and the city should shoulder more responsibility for fixing sidewalks. At least that’s what they wrote in response to a series of questions about the city’s built and natural environment submitted to them by the Rice Design Alliance’s Cite magazine. [OffCite] Photo: Flickr user bpawlik

06/08/15 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY YOU CAN GET FLOOD INSURANCE IN HOUSTON Flooding Coastal Homes“There is no market at all for flood insurance. It’s a massive federal subsidy that is merely administered by private companies. You can’t effectively insure against floods. This is one of those things many Texans like to ignore — that our coastal development is highly subsidized in the form of the government-backed NFIP.” [JR, commenting on Comment of the Day: A Better Way To Tell If Your Home Is Going to Flood] Illustration: Lulu

06/05/15 12:45pm

AND NOW A DOWNTOWN DANCE PERFORMANCE ABOUT FLOODING Invitations to the latest site-specific performance by the Karen Stokes Dance company went out on May 25th, the day before a good part of Houston woke up to find various areas in and around the city under water. But the company had already been rehearsing its latest work for some time by then. Coincidence, fortunate timing, or simply a local arts group’s demonstration of a level-headed understanding of the Houston landscape? From the team that brought you last year’s by-the-Ship-Channel performance of Channel/1836 now comes Drench, which — as shown in excerpts previewed in the trailer video above — reimagines Discovery Green’s Gateway Fountain as a flood zone. Shows, part of a performance that includes the work of Belgian art group Chanson d’Eau, begin at 8 pm tonight and tomorrow. [Discovery Green; more info] Video: Karen Stokes Dance

05/14/15 4:30pm

Tree Cutting on Yale St. Between 5th and 6th Streets, Houston Heights

Landscape crews last week chopped down 16 live oak trees lining the west side of Yale St. just south of White Oak, along the eastern border of the second of Trammell Crow Residential’s Alexan Heights apartment complexes. A similar scene took place last year in front of the Alexan Heights north of White Oak and 6th St. (at right in the above photo).

A reader sent in pics of the recent street-tree sawfest:


Chop ’n Plant
05/05/15 12:00pm

Replacement Oak Tree in Front of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The sixth and last of the replacement street trees was planted in the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. over the weekend. “It is a big specimen tree, taller than what was removed,” writes the reader who sent in these photos of the installation paid for by a special city fund for Houston parks — so we can all see for ourselves. The previous weekend, 5 replacement oaks were put in along the side street, North Blvd. Crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, had chopped down 6 trees on adjacent city property last October. You can compare the current scene in these photos and in our story last week with how it all looked before the chainsaws were fired up.


04/30/15 1:00pm

New Trees at Wendy's Drive-Thru Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

New Trees at Wendy's Drive-Thru Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonA row of 5 already-growed-up oak trees took up their new home along the North Blvd. flank of the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. last weekend, to replace the same number along the public right-of-way that went missing after dark last Halloween on account of they were chopped into pieces by order of the franchise owner. “The new trees at Wendy’s are so big they had to close the road to install them,” writes the reader who sent in these photos. “. . . almost as big as the ones cut down.

One more tree is still to come — for this spot on Kirby Dr., right in front:


Fast Landscaping
04/27/15 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY THEY WON’T BE LINING POST OAK BLVD. WITH POST OAKS Post Oak Forest“So close! Just imagine how impressive it would be to have a forest of 800 post oaks on Post Oak Blvd. Unfortunately, post oaks don’t tend to transplant well compared to live oaks, which is why we use live oaks in our landscaping instead of post oaks. (Source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Boxed Forest of 800 Trees in Tomball Preparing for March Down Post Oak Blvd.] Illustration: Lulu

03/27/15 1:00pm

13501 Katy Fwy., Energy Corridor, Houston

Here are pics of some of the clearing work PM Realty Group has been orchestrating along the south side of I-10 between Eldridge and Hwy. 6. The company bought the headquarters of the ExxonMobil Chemical Company at 13501 Katy Fwy. in late 2013, and announced plans for a mixed-use development including office towers, apartments, a hotel, a fitness center, restaurants, and convenience retail” on the 35-acre site. ExxonMobil was scheduled to exit the building (pictured below) this year:


Scrubbing ExxonChemical
03/24/15 2:15pm

Reserves at Buffalo Point, Buffalo Speedway South of W. Bellfort St., Buffalo Lakes, Houston

Over at the south end of Buffalo Speedway below West Bellfort, land is being cleared for a new development, these pics from last week show. The view is over the back fence of the 3-year-old Connection at Buffalo Pointe apartments, at 10201 Buffalo Speedway. A reader tells Swamplot some sort of permit document seen on the property labels it the Reserves at Buffalo Point. In a view over the fence but looking a little bit more to the east, most of the trees are still there — for now:


Buffalo Lakes
03/04/15 1:00pm

Jewelry Piece from Mapped: A Survey of Contemporary Houston Jewelry and Metalwork, Central Art Gallery, Houston Community College, 3517 Austin St., Midtown, Houston

Jewelry Piece from Mapped: A Survey of Contemporary Houston Jewelry and Metalwork, Central Art Gallery, Houston Community College, 3517 Austin St., Midtown, HoustonAre you one of those sensitive types who’s always on the lookout for the jewels in the Houston landscape? It can be tough going, right? Try seeking out the jewelry in the Houston landscape instead, and your job just got much easier: Over at HCC’s Central Art Gallery on the corner of Austin and Holman, a group of 17 local artists just opened a show called “Mapped: A Survey of Contemporary Houston Jewelry and Metalwork.” And if the preview images are any guide, the works in the show demonstrate a real appreciation for some very Houston-y stuff. The fencelike brooch at top by Masumi Kataoka is made of copper, enamel, stainless steel, glue, and some sort of animal intestine. Below it is a “neckpiece” by Edward Lane McCartney, forged from bits of in-town teardowns. Caitie Sellers shaped the under-construction piece o’ Downtown below from sterling silver and copper:


Bayou City Jewelry