Houston Endowment Heading to Spotts Park; Discovery Green Makeover; Houston’s Disappearing Midcentury Homes

Photo of Discovery Green: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


5 Comment

  • I’ll probably get flayed alive by the Preservationist Wing of Swamplot, but perhaps Houston’s disappearing MCM homes isn’t a bad thing. I would make the argument that they were never an appropriate home design for *most* of Houston to begin with. I think that the builders back then were riding on the tails of the new reservoirs out west and the availability of central air conditioning. What we got was a move away from pier and beam bungalow style houses and toward lower cost slab on grade. There was also the obvious problem of building in low lying areas, failures to correctly engineer drainage solutions, etc…

  • I could try to dignify my ordinary 1952 rancho with an MCM moniker, but the hip roof probably disqualifies it. Anyway, hip rooves are much better for this climate, being more resistant to removal by, you know, hurricanes.

  • Peservation in Houston is an oxymoron. Everything in Houston is about the developer. Even John Staub masterpieces are torn down by philistine’s and nothing can be done to stop it because the people that run Houston have no respect for Houston. It’s a disgrace, frankly. As much as I love Houston, I hate the people that live here and run the city. In contrast to San Antonio, where Preservation has real power, Houston’s Preservation is toothless. A complete joke. Too many Houstonian’s are not from here and have zero respect for the cities history and the leadership doesn’t care either. Pathetic

  • There’s nothing inherently wrong with an affordable and nondescript little two- or three-bedroom box on a slab. That’s what most of these mid-century houses are, perhaps more aptly described as cottages rather than as either “ranch-style” or “mid-century modern”. They are simple in design. They accommodate air conditioning and they are easily weatherized. The floor area and number of bedrooms is perfectly comfortable and appropriate for today’s smaller household sizes.
    Foundation technology has improved, both with slab and pier-and-beam designs. Newer is better in that and other ways. No doubt about that. And in neighborhoods with legacy drainage infrastructure or legacy subsidence, indeed sometimes pier-and-beam is the only reasonable way to go for new construction. All the same…to say that they are not an appropriate design (in the present tense) depends on where they are. Without going so far as to begrudge anybody their housing choices, I would suggest that the new pier-and-beam McMansions that typically replace mid-century homes are also questionably and conditionally “appropriate”; and that design is only feasible in urban locations as a result of fractured land ownership and deed restrictions imposed by legacy subdivisions.

  • @Rich
    The issue isn’t lack of preservation, it’s lack of architecture of any viability to begin with. Most of these old buildings being torn down in Houston are dumpy old shacks/cottages, but with the amount of uproar that manifests in these stories, you’d think that it was the French Quarter or Flat Iron Building being destroyed.
    Houston was not a large city in those olden times. And all the issues we have with developers now were just as bad back then, perhaps even worse. The result is a Catch-22: tear down the substandard buildings to meet outcry from the preservationists, or keep those old buildings at the cost of urban infrastructure improvements/advancements.