04/22/16 11:00am

900 Commerce St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

A charrette will be held at 9AM tomorrow for anyone interested in entering the design competition for the American Institute of Architects’s new Houston chapter headquarters, to be located at 900 Commerce St. across from Spaghetti Warehouse.  After being outbid on the blue mod Christian Science church on Main St. back in January, AIA and Architecture Center Houston are instead purchasing around 8,000 sq. ft. of space in the 1906 B.A. Reisner building, adjacent to the storied Bayou Lofts occupying much of the block. Part 1 of the competition will solicit ideas only for the 5,400-sq.-ft. storefront, 2,200-sq.-ft. boiler room, and some connections between the spaces; teams making it to round 2 will win a bit of cash and be asked to create detailed designs for the storefront and the building’s facade.

The view of the Reisner building above was snapped from Commerce looking south; below is a black-and-white shot of the building from further east across Travis, taken back in the days of its early-1900s employment by Southern Rice Products Company:


Rice Roaster Reimagining
03/01/16 10:15am

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002A new gig appears to be on the horizon for the turquoise-and-concrete Christian Science church at 1720 Main St. A notice announcing an application for a TABC license for the spot is up at the site; the license is being sought by an entity under the name of 1720 Main Reception Hall. Attached to that name, in the public notice for the application, is another: Salim Dehkordi (of nightclub Clé Bar down the road at 2301 Main) is listed as president, secretary, and treasurer.

The Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects put in a bid on the space back in January, hoping to use the sci-fi Brutalist building as their new headquarters. The organization purportedly lost out to a cash buyer asking for no due diligence period, spurring suspicions that the structure would be torn down. It seems, however, that the building will be maintained in some form by its next owners (though there could be a very different set of activities going on beneath that geometric gold spire).  A new setup for the interior might be on the horizon as well:


Getting Saved Downtown
01/22/16 3:30pm

First Church of Christ the Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Take in this nice long view of the gleaming spire atop the part-Modernist-part-Brutalist-part-Islamic-part-1960s-science-fiction sanctuary of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, which was listed on HAR and now seems to be circling in on a finalized deal.  The church received a large number of offers on the property despite a short bid period, and the Houston AIA chapter’s hopes to buy the building as its new headquarters were dashed over the weekend.

Once the church changes hands, members of the congregation will move to any of the other CS branches in the Greater Houston area (which number at least 7). While the sale wraps up, a service is still being held on the first Sunday of each month in the turquoise glow of the inner sanctum:


Selling a Space-Age Sanctuary
01/20/16 4:00pm

First Church of Christ the Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

First Church of Christ the Scientist, 1720 Main St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Now pending: the sale of the First Church of Christ the Scientist at 1720 Main St., north of Jefferson St. The 1961 structure, designed by Texas architect Milton Foy Martin, was listed for $2.25 million; the listing caught the attention of the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects, who had hoped to buy the building and move into it.

The organization made an offer, and even got Mayor Annise Parker to write a letter to the Church’s congregation in early December — Parker’s letter asked the Church to consider selling the building to AIA for the sake of historical preservation, citing fears that “any other purchaser would tear the building down.”

AIA was apparently outbid, however, by a cash buyer asking for no due diligence period. The sale is currently listed as pending on HAR. More detailed photos of the inside and out below, including that golden spire and turquoise tile:


It’s Blue Inside
03/26/13 10:30am

DESIGNING HOUSTON’S BICYCLE UNDERBELLY Peter Muessig’s graduate thesis for the Rice School of Architecture imagines a system of symbiotic bike-only features he’s calling “Veloducts” that would be fused on, under, around, and through the city’s existing car-dominated infrastructure. This rendering shows just such a Veloduct, which appears to be similar to those foot bridges already spanning Buffalo Bayou. But OffCite’s Sara C. Rolater explains how a Veloduct is much more ambitious: In variations of concrete, joists, and steel, [a Veloduct] can be grafted onto the pillars of freeways, hang suspended by girders, or stand on its own columns. . . . [allowing] cyclists to capitalize on precisely those systems that have previously hindered them. That [the project] enables different modes of transport to coexist without crowding each other seems especially critical for Houston, where a lack of safe-passage laws have made many of Google Maps’ bright-green highlighted ‘bike-friendly’ roads anything but.” [OffCite; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Peter Muessig