02/27/17 9:15am

FLOODED-OUT FLOODING SYMPOSIUM TO TRY AGAIN IN APRIL Flooding around The Halstead 4620 N Braeswood Blvd., Meyerland, Houston, 77096That January meeting of city officials, scientists, urban planners, business folks, engineers, conservationists, architects, and other flood-minded citizens — the one that was cancelled due to flash flooding — has now been rescheduled for April 5th. The symposium is still slated to take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center, and the same panelists appear to be on the docket. The event is free and open to all high water spectators, but you’ll need to register online by March 29th.  [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of flooding along Brays Bayou on April 17th, 2016: Chris Klesch

02/03/17 9:30am

Super Bowl LI Road Closures, Downtown

An essential addition to the growing list of guides for Houstonians on where not to go this weekend: the above map of road closures around the George R. Brown Convention Center district. Both red shading and cross-hatching mark the temporary carless zones, while a dashed black line shows the location of the perimeter fence for area events. Meanwhile, miles away at actual Super Bowl location NRG Stadium, other street closures were planned to go into effect yesterday evening (and are scheduled to last through Monday morning):

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Lines of Scrimmage
12/27/16 3:30pm

Painting by Ken Mazzu

Artist Ken Mazzu’s been back at the easel and back on the Houston demolition beat lately, finishing up some new works to be featured in next month’s building-themed art show at the William Reaves / Sarah Foltz Fine Art Gallery at 2143 Westheimer Rd.. The show will feature some of Mazzu’s paintings of ’round-town teardowns, along with works of 2 other Houston-focused artists (late photographer Jim Culberson and living painter Richard Stout). The gallery will even host Houston archi-historian Dr. Stephen Fox for a talk about The Changing City on the 14th.

Mazzu’s had a lot of subjects to choose from since a set of his demo-themed canvases went on display back in 2013; he sends over some previews of new pieces, including the scene above commemorating the disassembly of the former Downtown headquarters of the Houston Chronicle. Other recent works feature newly-parking-lotified 509 Louisiana St., the dissolution of the octagonal Solvay mid-rise, a pile of post-blow-up downtown Foley’s debris, and more:

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New Works Retrospective
12/07/16 11:00am

TALK ASTRODOME TOMORROW WITH THE GUYS THAT WROTE THE BOOK ON IT Book by Robert C. Trumpbour and Kenneth WomackThere’s a new tell-all biography of the Astrodome out this fall, now that year 50 since the stadium’s mid-1965 opening has wrapped up. Robert C. Trumpbour and Kenneth Womack’s The Eighth Wonder of the World: The Life of Houston’s Iconic Astrodome covers Dome history from its development days, and gets into how the building shaped Houston and Houston’s reputation. The authors, one of whom has also written another book about stadium construction politics, will be in town tomorrow night for a free talk and book signing  — you can check out the when-and-where and RSVP here. The book includes what University of Nebraska Press refers to as some of the structure’s more “memorable problems, such as outfielders’ inability to see fly balls and failed attempts to grow natural grass — which ultimately led to the development of Astroturf.” The text also touches on some of the most recent will-they-won’t-they preservation scuffles— though its publication date precedes this year’s approval by Harris County of initial funding for that plan to turn the bottom levels of the stadium into a parking garage.  [University of Nebraska Press] Image of book cover: University of Nebraska Press

11/18/16 10:15am

Rendering of Future Flight ride at Discovery Green

This week’s SpaceCom expo at the prettied-up George R. Brown Convention Center included a preview of some more down-to-earth plans for the immediate neighborhood — including the NASA-themed drop tower Mars mission ride to be installed for Super Bowl visitors at Discovery Green across the street. The ride, called Future Flight, will include virtual reality goggles; the rest of the setup will include a chance to try out the goggles for people who like virtual reality but don’t want to take the plunge, as well as some exhibits of next-gen space hardware  and some kid-geared activities.

The ride’ll be freeif you can get a spot. Chris Baldwin points out that about a million people are expected to show up at the pre-Super Bowl festival planned for the week before the game, but timeslots on the ride will be limited to a few thousand per day between January 28 and February 5 (and the details on how to get a spot aren’t out yet).

The burnt-orange scaffolding of the drop tower roughly matches the color scheme for the latest long-haul rocket setup NASA is working on:

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Free Free Falling Downtown
11/15/16 1:00pm

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HOUSTON’S FUTURE HISTORIC PRESERVATION CULTURE Astrodome“Houston seems younger than it is,” writes Barry Moore today: “Few would guess that our founding by the Allen Brothers was within a few years of Chicago’s. Why does Chicago seem so much older? The answer is complex.” While the 70-year-old annual conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation kicks off today in Houston for the first time, Moore charts decades of change in Houston’s laws, tax rules, and attitudes related to letting historic structures and places stick around. And Moore claims that these days, Houston’s out-with-the-old reputation “is itself a relic. Houston has turned a corner. After half a century of organizing, we now have a preservation culture and laws to protect parts of the built environment. This may be hard to believe, but I will argue that no other city in the country has such an opportunity to become ground zero for the future of the preservation movement.” [OffCite; previously on SwamplotPhoto of Astrodome: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

11/07/16 12:30pm

NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATIONISTS TO GATHER IN HOUSTON, GAWK AT ASTRODOME AstrodomeThe National Trust for Historic Preservation — that’d be the folks that coined the ‘orgy of irrational destruction’ line picked up by Save the Bungalows a few years back — is holding its annual conference in Houston for the first time, starting next Tuesday. Current president Stephanie Meeks cites the city’s “compelling preservation story,” amid a regional lack of preservation-minded rules and regulations, as a reason for picking the city. Planned field trip locales include the Astrodome (currently getting ready for that basement parking garage remodel), as well as Mission Control, the artsifying warehouses and industrial facilities around Washington Ave., and a handful of Galveston historic districts. Also on the docket: the debut of the organization’s Atlas of ReUrbanism (a digital collection of built environment data aimed public officials, reporters, and other city data scavengers), for which Houston is one of 5 starter cities. Would-be attendees can catch some conference sessions next Tuesday through Friday in the neighborhood of the newly-game-faced George R. Brown Convention Center; those who don’t want to make the trip downtown can watch some sessions at home. [Previously on SwamplotPhoto of Astrodome: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

09/13/16 5:30pm

8008 Colgate St., Glenbrook Valley, Houston8008 Colgate St., Glenbrook Valley, Houston

That recovered 2-story mod at 8008 Colgate has been getting further retouching by the newest owners, Sandra Cook writes in this month’s Houston House & Home. The previously dilapidated house made HoustonMod’s Mod of the Month list back in 2014 after it was rehabilitated to a poop-and-mold-free 5,870 sq. ft. (scooping in a few upstairs patios behind new walls in the process). Above is a comparison of the main entryway — the top photo shows the space’s trendy new white outfit, while the same wall appears in blue below that following the 2014 redo. (The lower left side shows the space midway through those earlier reconstructive procedures.)

The house will be receiving visitors during the Glenbrook Valley Home Tour in October; here’s a few peeks at some of the new retro-ish finishes, if you can’t wait until then:

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Re-Re-Mod-eling
04/15/16 10:15am

If you missed the free Fallout Boy and Kendrick Lamar concerts during Final Four weekend, here’s your chance to catch both, condensed down to less than 5 minutes (no sound, though). This week photographer Geoffrey Lyon posted his time-lapse capture (from the upper levels of One Park Place) of Discovery Green filling up during the Friday and Saturday events held in conjunction with the college basketball championship finals; the park reached its maximum capacity on both that Saturday and the following Sunday and stopped admitting visitors. [KTRK; previously on Swamplot] Video: Geoffrey Lyon

Turned Up and Down Downtown
03/31/16 4:00pm

Dallas St. Improvements complete, Downtown, Houston, 77002

Beating the basketball crowds headed to Houston this weekend, the Downtown section of Dallas St. that’s been getting done over looks to be pretty much finished and ready for action. A reader took some shots looking both ways in front of the south entrance to the Four Seasons between Caroline and Austin streets — up top is the eastern view down Dallas, gazing toward the George R. Brown Convention Center and the catty-corner staredown between Hilton Americas and Embassy Suites from either side of Crawford. The new trees seem to line up with the spacing plans shown in the previously released project plans, which included knocking out a driving lane on the north side and turning it into parking (as the vehicles above are politely demonstrating).

Here’s the Four Seasons again from other direction — this time looking west toward Houston Center, with the First City Tower rising out of the frame on the right:

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Traveling Downtown
02/22/16 4:30pm

Rendering of Color Jam at Main at McKinney streets, Downtown, Houston, 77002

Here’s an idea of what the corner of Main and McKinney streets may look like in a few more weeks, as the installation of Jessica Stockholder’s Color Jam Houston proceeds. The above rendering faces south across the north-er of the 2 intersections between the Main Street Square light-rail stops, with its existing semi-neutral stripes and swirls joined by some brighter colors. Stockholder’s installation, modeled after a previous painting of the town for Chicago in 2012, is one of the Downtown District’s temporary Art Blocks projects intended to brighten up the area for the year leading up to the 2017 Houston-hosted Super Bowl and NCAA championship. The Art Blocks initiative also includes the 60-ft-tall Trumpet Flower that will lurk in the alley between One City Center and its parking garage.

A reader tweeted a photo of some of the first blocks of pigment, evidently maneuvered into place late last week:

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Art Blocked at McKinney
02/01/16 5:00pm

Trumpet Flower Painting Event, Market Square, Downtown, Houston, 77002

Preston St. was closed down Saturday afternoon between Travis and Milam, as hundreds of people showed up to Market Square to paint the reclaimed strips of wood that will compose Patrick Renner’s upcoming Trumpet Flower installation.  The sculpture is designed to loom 60 feet above the space between One City Centre and its parking garage downtown (off Main St. Square and Fannin, between Lamar and McKinney).

Renner, of far-more-horizontal Funnel Tunnel fame, is slated to install the towering cone by the end of March, as part of the Art Blocks project planned to jazz up Main Street Square leading up to the 2017 Superbowl.  The tip of the structure will stretch down from the top of the garage and flare out into a furnished canopy shelter at street level. A tiny model of the installation was on display at a side table during the painting free-for-all:

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Sprouting Downtown
01/15/16 10:15am

2016 Houston Marathon Closures

For a few early hours this Sunday, the Southwest Freeway will be the only conduit into or out of the box of land framed by Kirby Dr., Montrose Blvd., Bissonnet St. and W. Gray St. (give or take a traffic peninsula leading up to Allen Pkwy., which will also be closed for much of the morning).

The Houston Marathon will launch from 4 corrals leading to Congress Ave. at San Jacinto St., and loop through the city along the route outlined in black above. The Half Marathon route (outlined in yellow) will pant alongside until just before mile 8, when it will skive off north back toward the shared finish line at Discovery Green.

A larger version of the map is show in 2 parts below, complete with start and end times (in red and green respectively) of each mile marker’s street closure:

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The Runaround