Here they are, culled from your contributions: The official nominees for the very first category of the fifth annual Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. And that would be: Favorite Houston Design Cliché. Thanks to everyone who submitted tried-and-true suggestions!
You can cast your vote for this award category simply by adding a comment below indicating your choice. But why not make it more fun? Don’t just tell us which choice you’re voting for, tell us why!
And pay attention to the Swampies’ quirky voting rules: You can also vote up to 3 more times — by email, on Twitter, or from Facebook — as long as you follow the listed guidelines.
The nominees are . . .
1. “Urban-Style” Neighborhoods in Far-Flung Communities. Out in Houston’s new-settlement frontier, a few developers claim they’re modeling newer neighborhoods after the ‘classic’ feel of the Heights and West University — with smaller, friendlier, front porchier homes. Isn’t that the same character those 2 Inner Loop neighborhoods have themselves been working so hard to jettison in recent years? What better says ‘I’m a cool urban trendsetter’ than choosing to live in a new-construction box wrapped with a bungalow look and surrounded by miles of grazing land?”
2. Gentle Arc Roofs. “Before it got swallowed up by Wells Fargo, Wachovia brought what had been an affectation of cutting-edge design-y office buildings to the ubiquitous suburban corner bank building. That cool arc-top look has since spread to McDonald’s, Walmart, and the occasional modern house.”
3. Humping Bungalows, aka Humper Houses. “They look like a McMansion or awkwardly proportioned 2-story bungalow went into heat and decided to mount an old bungalow from behind. Many preservationists consider this sort of ‘back door’ addition a way to ‘save’ an old house by, uh . . . pumping new life into it. City design guidelines for historic districts actually encourage this renovation strategy, though they refer to it more gently as a ‘camelback’ addition. Whatever you call it, the resulting indignity is usually difficult to ignore — though it’s often not entirely obvious who’s getting screwed.”
4. The Mixed Glass and Concrete Gridded Look for Highrise Office Buildings. “Several distinct patterns of alternating glass and precast concrete panels are combined on a single facade to make a single building appear as if it were constructed from a combination of separate building types. It provides some visual interest, but kinda looks as if someone chopped a few different buildings in pieces and recombined them to form some sort of Frankenbuilding. If the current construction building boom continues, this design trend appears on track to look tired and overused in about 10 years.”
5. Whitewashed and Partly Whitewashed Brick. “How to one-up older brick homes in neighborhoods where the ‘original and authentic’ look is all the rage? A contrasty brick mix masked ever-so-subtly by a little splotchy whitewashing brings an aura of instant historicishness to brand-new construction — and with it, a much more palpable sense of the past than the one needlessly endured by its older, smaller, dowdier, and less compelling neighbors.”
6. Knock Out Roses. “These roses are very tough and need little water. Commercial and civic landscapers love Knock Out roses for that reason, and indeed a mass planting of them can be quite lovely at times. The problem is their ubiquity, and the fact that after dropping their first blooms they become scrawny and leggy, produce crappy looking miniblooms, and require severe pruning — labor that commercial and civic planters can usually afford only, say, once per year. Different types of Knock Out roses vary in color only slightly, and in any event the only ones commonly used are the bright pinkish reds, so there isn’t the variety you see in azaleas. Knock Out roses provide easy and lazy landscape solutions, and discourage even thinking about native plants that would be nicer and just as easy to maintain.”
7. The Sago Palm. “Ubiquitous, indestructible, smelly, and poisonous. They’re the ugly equalizer — you find them in every neighborhood: old and new, Inner Loop and far-out suburb. Taste is subjective, of course, but please don’t eat one. Throw some Knock Out roses, crepe myrtles, and maybe a Bradford pear in there for good measure and you’ve got your basic palette of ‘staple’ Houston landscape plants — even though none of them are even remotely native to our region.”
So . . . which of these fine nominees truly deserves recognition as Favorite Houston Design Cliché for 2012? You tell us. Let the voting begin!
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Video: Bridgeland. Images: abc13 (Wells Fargo); Candace Garcia (Woodland Heights McDonald’s); HAR (1615 Columbia St.; brick at 1634 Harvard St.; sago palms at 5435 Cherie Crest Ct.); BBVA Compass Bank (BBVA Compass Plaza); Michael Heisel (Reliant Energy Plaza [license]); Elkus Manfredi Architects via PM Realty (3333 Richmond); Rachel Bosworth (Knock Out roses); HAR (sago palms at 5435 Cherie Crest Ct.)