01/23/15 1:00pm

Proposed Brian Patterson Sports Performance Clinic, Rice Stadium, Rice University

It’s been notoriously difficult to fill Rice Stadium — ever since those darn Houston Oilers came to town. Even President Kennedy couldn’t do it when he came by in 1962 to introduce a little mission to the moon he had cooked up. About 8 years ago, giant logo-bearing tarps were planted over the seating areas in both end zones, reducing the capacity (though not permanently) from 70,000 to 47,000.

But the latest planned changes appear to be following a 2-fold strategy to help fill the place: First, Rice University’s new $31.5 million Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center will knock out the stadium’s entire northern end zone — including more than 11,000 seats. Even better, the mostly brick building will have a giant glass wall on the side facing the playing field, which will offer spectators tired of watching the game shaded views into 2 levels of weight rooms. If they can get the scheduling right, with gridiron and pumping-iron action running simultaneously, fans will have the opportunity to enjoy 2 attractions at once. Likewise, flexing athletes will have a pretty good view of the field — and fans, if they’re out there — while they’re working their muscles.

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Watch Them Pump and Watch
01/23/15 8:30am

Adickes Sculpturworx Studio

Photo of Adickes Sculpturworx Studio: Brandi Lynn via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
01/22/15 5:15pm

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Rising stately on its corner in the Westmoreland Historic District, a well-appointed and well-maintained hundred-year-plus-old mansion fitted with terraces, balconies, and porches features all the craftsmanship of its day — and one very large indicator of the present: this freeway-side billboard in the back yard, by the pool:

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In the Shade
01/22/15 3:15pm

Second Proposed Design for Hotel Alessandra, GreenStreet, Downtown Houston

The company that’s adding a new hotel to GreenStreet, the renamed and reconfigured Houston Pavilions mall downtown appears to have made some dramatic changes to the design of the tower. Midway Companies first showed off the sleek design by Gensler for the Hotel Alessandra (shown at left) last March, describing a design that featured a top-floor lobby, with a bar on the same floor and a pool under a retractable roof. Renderings of the design are still featured in marketing materials for GreenStreet’s retail redo.

But HAIF user Urbannizer, who’s had a pretty solid track record of discovering renderings of proposed projects if they’re available anywhere, posted a revised rendering to the online architecture forum late last night. The image, shown at right, shows what appears to be the latest design for the Alessandra, which will be operated by the Valencia Group. The Valencia Group already operates Midway’s Hotel Sorella at CityCentre.

Here’s a slightly larger view of the newer, far more rectilinear design:

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Straightening Up GreenStreet
01/22/15 2:15pm

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Visiting the former Mark’s Plaza shopping center at 4721 N. Main St. near the end of Airline Dr., reader Christopher Andrews notes that the new facade going up (top) appears to be headed in a slightly different direction than what was portrayed in the rendering (below) floated by Braun Enterprises after the serial shopping-center fixer-upper company bought the Norhill property and renamed it The Heights Place.

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The Heights Place
01/22/15 12:45pm

Los Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant, 5720 Washington Ave, Woodcrest, Houston

Los Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant, 5720 Washington Ave, Woodcrest, HoustonThe last date to order cheese enchiladas at Los Dos Amigos, the Mexican restaurant that’s stood at 5720 Washington Ave at the corner of Birdsall for the past 39 years, is February 28th. In early December, the longtime owners of an L-shaped group of parcels spanning the entire north side of the Washington Ave block between Birdsall and Malone — along with an adjoining “L” around the corner facing Birdsall (see map above) — sold the whole thing to a developer out of Dallas operating under the name of a partnership calling itself OSF Washington. Among the other entities linked to the buyers: Vintala Partners, which has developed apartments in the past.

Also on the block and going away: the Premo’s Grocery building at 5702 Washington. The entire site, including both buildings and parking lots, measures 26,675 sq. ft.

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Developers from Dallas
01/22/15 8:30am

hermann park centennial gardens

Photo of Hermann Park Centennial Gardens: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
01/21/15 5:00pm

Demolition of International Mailing Systems, 815 Live Oak St., East Downtown

Sure, we all know the future of East Downtown is townhomes, and that the industrial structures that once dominated that landscape are on their way out. But have you seen a set of photos that better illustrates the transformation than this gallery of views taken by reader Jeff Peoples this morning? It shows the demolition of the former International Mailing Systems warehouse building at 815 Live Oak St. Not much more need for them to be close to downtown.

You can see the townhomes marching from the background of the above photo, smashing everything in their way.

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International Mailing Systems Gone
01/21/15 2:30pm

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Growing conditions favor landscaping (and geegaws) inside and outside a mews-facing condo in the 1973 Briarwest Townhomes development. Reddish hues are particularly abundant, whether in the decor’s high petal count or the brick exterior’s shutters. Updated a bit, the home is one of 194 2-story homes sharing the community’s 13 acres, with a pool, playground, and park (not a dog park, the homeowners association declares).

Ungated access is from Winrock Rd., located east of Voss Rd. and north of  Westheimer Rd. Over the weekend, this home’s asking price trimmed again, this time to $268K, following a month at $275K. In its November 2014 initial listing, pricing got started at $285K.

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Abbondanza
01/21/15 12:00pm

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BOTANICAL GARDEN ON GLENBROOK PARK GOLF COURSE, GUS WORTHAM COURSE RENOVATIONS Glenbrook Park Golf Course, 8205 N. Bayou Dr., HoustonCity council voted unanimously this morning to give the go-ahead to plans to renovate the Gus Wortham Golf Course north of Idylwood, and allow the group that had previously attempted to turn that location into a botanical garden to develop a facility instead on the current site of the 18-hole Glenbrook Park Golf Course, along Sims Bayou on the north side of the Gulf Fwy. south of Loop 610. The long-term lease agreements are victories for the operating organizations behind both efforts, but the garden group clearly got its second choice; an Inner Loop garden on site of the oldest golf course in Texas would have had better access to public transportation including the new light-rail line, and would have been surrounded by less freeway noise. If the Houston Golf Association fails to raise $5 million for the Gus Wortham redo before the end of this year, it’s possible the split could be rejiggered; the Houston Botanic Garden Board is being given until the end of 2017 to raise $20 million for its efforts. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Glenbrook Park Golf Course: Houston Golf Nut

01/21/15 11:30am

Proposed West Houston Mobility Plan Major Thoroughfare Plan

Proposed West Houston Mobility Plan Major Thoroughfare PlanThere’s a rather bold new plan for 2 of the Houston area’s major parkland reserves hiding in an image included in an almost-final draft of the West Houston Mobility Plan being prepared by the Houston-Galveston Area Council for submission to TxDOT. A new roadway connecting Briar Forest Dr. to Highland Knolls Dr. through the heart of 7,800-acre George Bush Park is shown in a proposed major-thoroughfare plan for the area. (See segments in blue in image above.) A segment of Baker Rd. is also shown linking to the new parkway. And north of I-10, a similar major roadway is seen connecting Hammerly Rd. to Patterson Rd. — through the Addicks Reservoir.

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Connecting Briar Forest Dr. to Highland Knolls