06/02/16 4:30pm

RICE UNIVERSITY’S U-TURN AWAY FROM A MODERNIST OPERA HOUSE rice-opera-proposedA recent Facebook post by architect Allan Greenberg appears to confirm his firm’s involvement with the Rice University opera house project, of which possible renderings and a model recently surfaced in another building on campus. The choice of Greenberg, a self-described classical architect who designed the university’s Humanities Building, represents a major reversal of ideology from the previously announced selection of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (designers of part of New York’s High Line, who once created a building shrouded perpetually in fog). The selection of DS+R was announced in March of 2014; Greenberg had begun to publicly mention involvement with the project by this past December. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Rice University opera house design model: Swamplot inbox

05/05/16 5:00pm


The listing for this 3-bedroom mid-century mod a few blocks south of Sims Bayou says that the home was considered as a filming site for the Astronaut Wives Club teevee series — but didn’t get the part.  The house did, however, get picked to be in several of the Houston Builder Association’s Parade of Homes showcase tours back in the 1950s, according to Glenbrook Valley’s historical district designation report. That document cites a 1954 Houston Chronicle writeup noting the home’s cutting edge electric features, including a precipitron (“a device that removes all odors“). It’s unclear whether the precipitron survived the 2008 remodel (following damage from a 2007 fire), but the listing says the current owners tried to keep era-appropriate stylings in mind during the repair work:


Space Age Spaces
12/01/15 11:00am

1 Pine Creek Ln., Hilshire Village, Houston

Positioned above a fork in Spring Branch Creek just north of I-10, this 1971 mod was designed by former occupant Roland Beach, who passed away last April after living in the home for more than 40 years with his family. Beach, an exporter of construction materials to Barbados, produced much of the 2,630-sq.-ft. home’s extensive wood paneling and detailing in his own shop in the property’s detached 2-car garage.

His 3-bedroom, 3-bath dreamhouse was remodeled in 2008, when Beach added a master suite containing a round sleeping area, a sauna, and a kitchenette with dining space — allowing occupants to get away from it all without actually leaving the home. The house was named one of Houston Mod’s “Mods of the Month” for November; the asking price dropped to $825k from just under $840k at the end of October, after a few weeks on the market.


Suburban Retreat
04/29/15 2:45pm

American Brakeshoe Company Building, 3315 W. 12th St., Inner Loop Northwest, Houston

A lowslung brick 1965 building in the warehouse district in the northwest quadrant of the Inner Loop west of Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook scored landmark status from the city today, marking the first such designation for an industrial, Modern, and suburban (well, at least used-to-be suburban) structure. NuSmile, a company that manufactures pediatric dental crowns, bought the former American Brakeshoe Company building in 2011 and then renovated it, adding a taller 6,140-sq.-ft. metal-wrapped extension to the back of the 8,584-sq.-ft. structure in 2013 and winning a Good Brick Award from Preservation Houston in the process. A report the company submitted with the application notes that “no records of an architect, contractor, or developer have been found” for the original building. Among the former tenants of the property at 3315 W. 12th St.: Smith Industries, TelTex, and TD Rowe Amusements.

Photo: SWCA

NuSmile on Building
04/24/15 3:00pm




Until neighboring homes now under construction weigh in, the largest home — by just a couple sq. ft. — on its Museum District block in Jandor Gardens is a custom 2006 contemporary by Stern & Bucek. The home stacks up on one side of a wide, slightly terraced, slightly dog-legged lot. The property avoids pesky back neighbors entirely — the lawn, landscaping, and pristine pool extend to the street behind. Earlier this week, the listing appeared on the market with a $3.95 million price tag.


Back Stretch
04/16/15 12:45pm

IT’S THURSDAY, APRIL 16TH. WHERE’S THAT RIVERSIDE TERRACE MOD WE CAN SMASH UP? Bar from Home in Riverside Terrace, HoustonThis was the appointed day we were all supposed learn the address of a certain 1950s Mod “tear-down” estate sale somewhere in Riverside Terrace where all would be welcome to bring hammers and crowbars to wrestle loose a few well-installed vintage items. So where is it? Sorry — gotta wait 1 more day to find out, the listing from JBD Estate Sales tells us. On account of the weather, the sale has been postponed until this Saturday and Sunday, April 18th and 19th. Accordingly, the big location reveal will have to wait for tomorrow. But 97 photos of the wares offered have now been posted, and they include a few crowbar-worthy items, such as the custom cabinetry pictured here. What’s the occasion? “Desiring a change of lifestyle and design, my clients sold their old home in Old Braeswood and bought this house to tear down and build a new smaller contemporary home for retirement,” reads the copy. “Furnishing for sale in this 4000 sq. ft. house are a combination from both houses plus some consigned items.” [EstateSales.net] Photo: JBD Estate Sales

04/02/15 4:00pm



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.


River Oaks Wrightists
04/02/15 3:00pm

Energy Center Under Construction, ExxonMobil Campus, Springwoods Village, Houston

From a source who wishes to remain unidentified come these pix of the glass-box keystone suspended at the entrance to ExxonMobil’s new north Houston campus. The 385-acre facility, which opened to employees last spring, is now largely occupied but remains under construction. The Energy Center, with its hovering 10,000-ton “floating cube” raised 80 ft. above ground, will serve as the campus’s front gate, welcoming visitors as well as shortcut-eschewing employees to the 10,000-worker compound.

The building will include a meeting and training center, and is meant to “represent the ExxonMobil brand for the long term,” according to a company document. Earlier photos showed an extensive scaffolding structure holding up the centerpiece; it’s now been removed.


Flying Square Energy Donut
03/11/15 1:45pm

Medical Office Building, 7620 Bellfort St., Glenbrook Valley, Houston

Real estate agent Robert Searcy sends in make-’em-look-pretty pics of a few of the small Modern office buildings to be found along Bellfort St. between Telephone Rd. and Broadway in Glenbrook Valley. The buildings were built in the 1960s, many of them to serve doctors connected to the former Southeast Memorial Hospital on the northwest corner of Bellfort St. and Glenloch. (Later operated by Riverside General Hospital as its Edith Irby Jones Campus, the structure was torn down a few years ago after suffering extensive damage from Hurricane Ike.)

Pictured above: The Bellfort Women’s Care Clinic at 7620 Bellfort, formerly the office of Dr. Hans Altinger, who also lived in Glenbrook Valley. Next on the tour:


Some of the Doctors Are In
02/26/15 4:30pm




Its spread wings don’t fly, but a horizon-hugging 1960 mod in Memorial — once known as the Lapin House — did rise to prominence in 2009 after a Good Brick Award from the organization now called Preservation Houston was bestowed on its humdinger of a renovation. Actual bricks on the property are mostly to be found on the street side of the home. Window walls in back face the poolscape, yard, and a bend in Buffalo Bayou, bringing the outside in. To reach the waterway, take the stone steps set into the slope backing the almost-an-acre property.

It’s located in the Willowick neighborhood of Hunters Creek Village, west of Voss Rd. and south of Memorial Dr. The original design by Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson (yes, the Astrodome architects) has a later addition attributed to architect Joel Brand. When listed earlier this week, the posh property’s asking price was $2.495 million.


Adjusting the Horizontal
02/25/15 3:15pm

9231 Fordshire Dr., Woodshire, Houston

9231 Fordshire Dr., Woodshire, Houston

What’s been going on with that mod home renovation in Woodshire that was featured on Swamplot last September when it was aiming for a $775,500 sale price? Plenty!

The property appeared in a Chronicle featurette in October. Later, it went on a short holiday vacation from the MLS — interrupting a sequence of 6 separate price reductions and one relisting. It stood and beamed for a whole new portfolio of listing photos (shown here). And today, the home’s redesigner, Jamie House, has posted her own account of many of the decisions and efforts that went into the transformation of the 1956 property she worked on with Dave Seeburger of P&G Homes — along with an entirely different set of before-and-after pics.


The Story Behind the 1-Story
01/29/15 4:00pm



Which way is the view? From the balcony beneath the cantilevered section that marks the entry of the Modern mansion on nearly an acre in Pine Wood Estates? Through a pair of driveway gates off Memorial Drive, right where it makes its first bend west of the West Loop? Via butt-jointed glass walls, which open up further an already open floor plan (above)? MC2 Architects (pronounced Emcee Squared; publications have problems lifting their digits) designed the minimalist-but-lux tiltwall assembly for a client in 2012. It was first offered for sale 100 days ago, for $4.99 million.


Modern on Memorial
01/05/15 12:15pm

2042 Forest Oaks Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston

2042 Forest Oaks Dr., Meadowcreek Village, Houston

Juxtaposed “before” and “after” pics (recreated above) of the 1963 used-to-be-Mod house at 2042 Forest Oaks Dr. in Meadowcreek Village have garnered a mere 1002 comments (so far) on a Facebook Mid Century Modern fan page. Many of the comments decry the roofing and landscaping changes made to the home, explaining that the renovator doesn’t appear to “get” the style of the original. Others wonder whether some sort of Photoshop trickery might be involved. But a few commenters note that the home, whose Houston Mod open house was featured on Swamplot in 2012, was a foreclosure, that many of its modern features had been altered before its most recent sale, or that the 4-bedroom, 3-bath, 2,650-sq.-ft. home appears to be much more livable in its current state.

Unfortunately, the earlier listing included only a few additional photos, making direct before-and-after comparisons of the extensive changes made to the home’s interior — including the addition of laminate floors and granite countertops — difficult. The home was listed for sale in mid-December for $210,861. Pre-renovation, it sold in March of 2013 for $78,000.

12/08/14 3:15pm

1535 milford interior

1535 milford front-2

In a niche neighborhood near the Museum District, a 1994 modern home designed by architect Natalye Appel blends into the stretch of custom homes on a wishboned street pair between Mandell and Montrose Blvd.  The corner property was listed a week ago with a $995,000 asking price and held its opening open house last weekend. Updates since its 2012 change of hands (at $730,000) include a kitchen remodeling and access from the master suite downstairs to a new courtyard and pool.


Space Efficient
10/08/14 4:00pm



Over in the Mod Mecca of Meyerland, a well-tended 1960 home rolls out the red carpet — and terrazzo tile, wood paneling, and other mid-century finishing touches. In near-original condition, the tilt-topped property is located east of Chimney Rock Rd. and south of S. Braeswood Blvd. Its listing earlier this week comes with a $459,900 price tag.


Ready To Remuddle