Lawsuit Claims Ashby Highrise Design Is Copy of Minneapolis Condo Tower

An architecture firm headquartered in Dallas has filed suit against the developers of the Ashby Highrise, alleging that Buckhead Investment Partners made “copies and derivatives” of the firm’s design for the 27-story Grant Park Condominiums tower in Minneapolis. Humphreys and Partners Architects designed that complex (pictured above) in 2003. The lawsuit is also directed at EDI Architecture, the firm Buckhead hired to produce drawings for the proposed highrise at the corner of Bissonnet and Ashby near Southampton.

The lawsuit claims that Buckhead infringed on Humphreys’ copyright by submitting plans for a proposed 23-story tower at 1717 Bissonnet to the city of Houston. Those plans have already received permits. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent Buckhead from constructing the building, because doing so would “necessarily create additional copies and derivatives” of Humphreys’ intellectual property.

How closely does Houston’s proposed tower follow Grant Park’s design?


Well, here are a few more images of Grant Park:

And drawings of one version of the proposed Ashby Highrise:

A posting on a website set up by opponents of the Ashby highrise claims that Humphreys had at one point been engaged by Buckhead to design the Ashby building. “Humphreys showed Buckhead their Grant Park plans, but Humphreys never prepared any plans for the Ashby project and Buckhead ultimately told Humphreys that they planned to go in a ‘different direction,'” the report alleges. The website also claims that the photograph of blueprints featured at the top of Buckhead’s website is itself a photograph of drawings Humphreys produced for Grant Park.

What are Humphreys’ chances of shutting down the Ashby Highrise? The firm, which has offices or affiliates in 16 cities, had notable success in a previous case against an Indiana developer who tried to copy its designs. Filed in 2000, the suit eventually resulted in the architecture firm being awarded ongoing payments from the copycat apartment building’s rental income, rendering the developer’s investment “essentially useless,” according to one report: “No future income could be earned [from the building] unless it was transmitted on to the architects.”

Images: Grant Park Luxury Condominiums, Wikimedia Commons [license], Buckhead Investment Partners

23 Comment

  • Seriously? I’ll bet someone in Southampton is behind it!

  • Apart from the fact that it’s red and white and approximately the same size I see very few similarities. Grant Park narrows to a single point at the top, Ashby has two. Ashby has the broader base with the retail and parking in, Grant Park does not. Grant Parrk breaks the color scheme with a broken line, Ashby has a horizontal break. Will it stall the development in legal wranglings for a while, sure, but I can’t see it stopping it. Maybe the owners of other 23 storey brick towers should all sue each other too.

  • many similarities, yes, but that applies to 80% of all commercial structures. i suppose someone familiar with architectural trademarking would have to reply cuz i’m just not seeing the plagiarism unless someone wants to get all up in arms about color schemes.

    furthermore, does anyone have access to the interior layouts to see if they even similate the Grant Park property?

  • Buckhead will never win against one of the most powerful neighborhoods in Houston. Buckhead should just buy the property that Fiesta leases and build a high rise apartment across from the new HEB. They can make just as much money without protests from the residents.

  • “Similate”?

  • Yeah, really, just *how* connected are these anti-highrise folks anyway??

  • Don’t all those kinds of buildings look alike? What about the French Fry Hat building on Allen Parkway? Doesn’t it look like that too?

    It’s ugly as hell, but looks better in Minneapolis, kind of off by itself and not plopped in the middle of a neighborhood. Wouldn’t this building look much better in Midtown than in West U (ish)?

  • Wait, are they going to sue the county for the courthouse downtown too? I mean; red brick and stucco… that’s trademarked…

  • This is stupid. Many buildings look alike. The Austonian in Austin and the Museum Tower in Dallas have some similarities.

  • Wait a minute. Where are the teeth?

  • @Bill – I wish we could favorite comments on here.

  • You used to hear alot about wealthy people demolishing homes in West U and building McMansions next to some little old lady in her 800 square foot house that she had lived in for 50 years. Nobody cared about the little old lady. It seems like the wealthy folks over by the Ashby highrise get to find out what it’s like to be the little old lady.

  • @Trey:
    Building a McMansion and a Building a 24 story building on a 2 lane road are two different animals. This is a behemoth. The traffic on that street is already terrible. It makes me sick just thinking about it.

  • @dan. Welcome to a city that is increasing in density and urbanity. More and more of this is going to happen especially considering Houston has no zoning laws.

  • Occupy Southampton!

  • At least the Grant Parc condos were built so that they are angled away from the adjacent lowrise project. If only the Ashby developers had such concern for their neighbors!

  • @Trey, I agree. When townhomes were built in West U, they were built on the site of a 2 bedroom cottage probably. Where was the outrage then?

    In a city with no zoning, you just can’t be mad when someone takes advantage of, well, no zoning.

    The high-rise is a terrible idea, but inventing an ordinance where there was none is an even worse idea.

  • It’s really no different than the Wilshire Village HEB, that bright, shiny, new, fresh smelling turd in our neighborhood.

    Rise High Ashby!

  • The City of West University is not the City of Houston. If the people there did not want 80% of the lots covered by a McMansion, then they could change the city codes and zoning laws. There are only a few streets that allow townhomes in West U. From what I understand, there are deed restrictions that were made to prevent this sort of thing, everywhere in that area (South Hampton) except for the property in question. It is a mess. I understand ubanization. I think it is a good thing for the most part. This just really sucks for the folks that thought they were protected.

  • Just build it so we can go on with our lives . . . . .

  • >Yeah, really, just *how* connected are these anti-highrise folks anyway??

    We are very, very connected. You don’t wanna screw with us :)

  • LoL, parasites always are :)