10/26/18 5:15pm


Note: This story has been updated to indicate that City Council’s October 23 vote approved funding for previous work that was already completed on the plaza, not for future renovations.

This week Houston City Council voted to cut a check to workers that finished the first round of renovations on the plaza. The results of their work  — including new fencing, gates, and a terrace — clear the way for the second chapter of redos to begin. The video at top winds it way through round 2 of changes, showing off the new children’s reading area, stage, and outdoor seating bound for the 0.75-acre space between the Jesse H. Jones Building (AKA Central Library) and the Julia Ideson building directly east of it.

While 25-year naming rights are already locked down on the Phillips 66 Jumbo Video Screen (on the right in the rendering abvoe) and Janice and Robert C. McNair Performance Stage (left), the puppet theater depicted below is still in need of a namesake:


Downtown Redo
11/04/16 3:15pm

Alice McKean Young Library, 5107 Griggs Rd., South Union, Houston, 77021

The replacement for the Alice McKean Young Library’s strip center headquarters in Palm Center will have its grand opening party tomorrow morning in the branch’s new nearby building at the corner of Griggs Rd. and Martin Luther King Blvd. The rendering up top from Perkins+Will looks south across Griggs toward the Village at Palm Center mixed-income apartment building on its way up across the street (where once Speedy Automotive Center and King’s Flea Market reigned). Catty-corner to the 16,000-sq.-ft. new building is the Houston Texans YMCA, and the METRO Purple Line can be swinging into and back out of the frame on the left on its way to the last station on the line.

Check out the glassy new front, as seen from Griggs:


South Union Swap
08/09/16 10:30am

For at least the 3rd time this summer, the city is back in emergency heat plan mode in the face of the in-the-shade 105 to 110 heat indices forecast across the area yesterday afternoon (and again today, from 1 to 7 pm). The plan kicks in when indices hang around 108 for more than 1 day in a row. A chat with the folks at 311 will get you a ride to one of the nearest air-conditioned chillout centers, mapped above — the majority are public libraries (marked in yellow), with a few municipal multiservice centers thrown in for color (namely blue). The list of centers is also broken out by postal code on the city’s emergency website, along with each spot’s operating hours — in the process providing a quick review of how some of those turn-of-the-decade library hours cuts shook out.

Map of emergency cooling centers: City of Houston

Reading is Cool
03/28/16 3:00pm

HOUSTON LIBRARY WANTS YOUR ONLINE ASTROWORLD NOSTALGIA AS 1967 MODEL GOES ON DISPLAY DOWNTOWN Overhead Photo of 1968 Model of AstroWorld, HoustonRemember that Craigslisted model of AstroWorld that got bought up by the head of an Astro-tasked engineering firm back in 2011? I. A. Naman + Associates president Thomas G. Barrows evidently made good on his announced plan to donate the construction visualization model to the Houston Public Library, which is now about ready to start showing it off  — the model will be on public display at the Central branch Downtown at 500 McKinney St. by next Wednesday, April 6th, with a reception planned for that evening.  While you’re waiting, the library wants you to tweet and Facebook them your videos, photos, and most enthusiastic memories of Houston’s themepark days. [Houston Public Library, previously on Swamplot] Photo of AstroWorld model: Bill Davenport

12/30/14 12:00pm


Above you see the Alice McKean Young Neighborhood Library of the near future that is going in at 5106 Griggs Rd., and the one that stands at present in the Palm Center, catty-corner across the intersection with M.L.K. Blvd. at 5260 Griggs. Dirt started flying December 19 on the $10.6 million, Perkins + Will-designed structure, which at 16,000 sq.-ft., will more than double the size of the current facility. Books will be available for checkout in Fall 2015 if all goes according to plan.

Rendering and Photo: Houston Public Library

Booking It
03/18/13 11:30am

Andrew Carnegie tried — and now, following his lead, a team with ties to Rice University wants to change the world with libraries, too. If it can raise $50,000 via a Kickstarter campaign, the team, whose 5 members are linked to Rice School of Architecture and Rice Design Alliance, will be able to take its talents to Ghana and build a prototype of this open-source, open-air digital agora it’s calling Librii.

And what, exactly, would it be?


08/16/12 4:10pm

Inspired by a Kyrie O’Connor column last month decrying the absence of any Little Free Libraries in Houston, Heights resident Mag Franzoni and her husband went ahead and created one themselves. At the grand opening of the tiny custom-built bright-red exchange box perched on a couple of 4x4s in front of the home at 736 Tulane St. earlier this month, Franzoni had it stocked with a carefully pruned collection that included a biography of Ho Chi Minh, John McCain’s Character Is Destiny, Portia de Rossi’s anorexia tell-all, and Max Brooks’s World War Z, on the coming Zombie War. “I loved the idea where people could go and grab a book (and hopefully — if they can – bring a different one in return) and basically making this library into a gift that keeps on giving,” the newly minted front-yard librarian wrote the Heights Kids Group. “I hope some of you will stop by and pick up/bring a book. And if not, maybe you can share it with everyone you know so eventually everyone in Houston knows where to go when they want/need a book to read.”

Photos: Mag Franzoni

08/19/11 11:35pm

LOOSCAN LIBRARY LEAKAGE Why is the Looscan Neighborhood Library at 2510 Willowick near Highland Village closing for 4 months of renovations — only 4 years after it was built? Problems with water infiltration.When it rains pretty good, water gets into those walls and into that doorway,” a library spokesperson tells Charlotte Aguilar. Both entrances will get new exterior canopies, and the lobby will get a new walk-off mat system to catch tracked-in water and prevent slipping. Plus: new moisture-resistant wall finishes and stone baseboards. Work begins a week from Saturday. [River Oaks Examiner] Photo: River Oaks Examiner

04/19/11 6:36pm

Reopened yesterday after almost 2 years of construction and renovation: The Oak Forest Library at 1349 W. 43rd St., sporting 2 new brick-and-glass wings on the buildings west side, around a new outdoor reading room. The original building’s signature green tile mosaic wall still faces the Oak Forest Shopping Center’s continuous W. 43rd St. parking lot, but a new second entrance for the neighborhood now peeks out from behind a much greener space on Oak Forest Dr. — across the street from Oak Forest Elementary:


04/29/10 2:40pm

The long-discussed renovation of the Fifth Ward’s long-vacant DeLuxe Theatre on Lyons Ave. is a little closer to actually happening since yesterday’s city council approval of a contract with Smith & Company Architects for its part of the $6.8 million project.

Drawings have not been released, but the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation’s website for the theater says that the building’s south facade will be restored to its original appearance. The movie theater was built in 1941, but reopened in 1971 as an art gallery. The 15,000-sq.-ft. shell has been empty for more than 30 years. And now the innards will be reimagined:


03/11/09 4:54pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: MODERN LIBRARY EDITION “The mid-century Oak Forest Library IS NOT being demolished. Houston Public Library is working very diligently to save, restore, renovate and add-on to the existing building. The rendering that you show is of the addition to the west side of the original building facing the newish elementary school across the street. When the work is complete, the “new” Oak Forest will have dedicated areas for Children, Teens, and Adults, a new Meeting Room, Conference Room, and expanded services. It will be fully ADA compliant and should also acquire L.E.E.D certification.” [John, commenting on The New Oak Forest Neighborhood Library]

03/10/09 2:51pm

Thanks to the reader who sent Swamplot this image, showing what the new west wing of the Oak Forest Neighborhood Library is supposed to look like when construction is complete. The addition provides an updated reading of the library’s current Mod entrance, which sits quietly at the back of the shopping center on 43rd St., a block west of Ella:


02/18/09 1:32pm

The new Belle Sherman Kendall Library in West Houston will have a little something extra inside: a half-court basketball gym. The ceremonial groundbreaking took place Monday on the site near Buffalo Bayou:

Besides housing a library and a community center, the building will be the first three-story building in the Houston system, and the first to have a drive-up window.

The site at 609 N. Eldridge will also serve as a city park and a trailhead to Terry Hershey Park. . . . At Kendall’s drive-up window, users will be able to return books, pick-up books they’ve reserved, and pay fines.

Image: English + Associates Architects