Local art guide Robert Boyd takes himself and readers on a photo tour of the outbuildings surrounding Nestor Topchy’s home “just south of the North Loop,” catching readers up on a few of the structures the artist has built since (or salvaged from) his residency at the legendary TemplO (earlier, Zocalo), the 6-acre arts commune he ran on a rented former truck depot at 5223 Feagan St. in the West End from the late eighties into the early aughts. And he finds much to impress, including the glass-walled tin-roofed structure pictured here, which Topchy pieced together from steel windows and doors salvaged from buildings in Houston and Argentina, and which fronts a pond on the acre-plus property. Topchy calls it the Crescent:
Eco-conscious chickens and a dog are the beneficiaries of the just-announced award-winning entries in the Houston division of the annual National ReUse Contest, coordinated locally by the city’s ReUse Warehouse at 9003 N. Main St. Tend Building‘s first-place canine riff on the Beer Can House (at top), called the K-9 Can Cabin, incorporates wood framing and siding found at the ReUse Warehouse, cedar fence slats, reclaimed shutters, a glass mosaic forged from the cast-offs of a local stained-glass company, and aluminum-can shingles. Only the fasteners and sealers are new. Taking third place is this chicken coop forged from used doors, windows, and lumber by Smitty Regula. Entertainment is provided by the roof and removable side panels, cut from local political signage.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: USED HOUSE PARTS SCOUTING REPORT “Hopefully, some of those features will end up at Habitat ReStore. The marble counters, doors, clawfoot tub, cabinet doors, and all that flagstone. The casement windows are great for a greenhouse or playhouse. And that angle-top door in the attic room would be a great door for a garden shed or chicken house.
I saw parts of some of the other teardowns there about 2 months ago. I remember seeing the stainless steel countertop, marble, and custom bathroom cabinets from one teardown.
I may have to check back to see if that angle-top door makes it to the ReStore. I’ll design a shed just around that door.” [Lynn, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Half Timber]
The epic Software Group is now passing around pix of the “creative co-op” building the company painstakingly constructed next to its Woodlands headquarters over the last 18 months — out of 11 recycled shipping containers and a slew of other recycled materials. The 8-ft. x 40-ft. x 9-1/2-ft. containers, explains company president Vic Cherubini, are each 8-9 years old and still rated “sea worthy.” Around that core, the animation, multimedia and web development company production company built an almost-5,000-sq.-ft. building with a large video production studio inside. The assembly sits 50 ft. away from Epic’s own facility at 701 Sawdust Rd., and is now occupied by several creative companies in the area — who pre-leased it before completion.
Sculptor Dan Havel sends in photos of the construction he and fellow demo artist Dean Ruck have been working on for months in a new pocket park at 3705 Lyons Ave. More than a month before its debut as the backdrop for a community concert (yes, that’s a stage poking out from the front), Havel says their project is “substantially complete,” though there are still a few more details to fill in, including stairs for the stage and some landscaping. Working from a ready-to-be-knocked-down house from a couple miles northeast at 3012 Erastus St., Havel and Ruck added, ahem, a whole lot of support to the interior, as these photos taken earlier in the summer show:
As of this morning, Historic Houston has been able to raise only $13,000 of the $50,000 executive director Lynn Edmundson had figured the organization would need to keep its North Montrose building-parts salvage warehouse in operation for just 3 more months. After this weekend, she tells Swamplot, she will have lost all employees other than her crew. That means the warehouse at 1307 West Clay St. will only be able to be opened by appointment. This Saturday from 10 to 4, though, she’ll be holding a last-ditch 50-percent-off sale with a bonus: All purchases will be tax-free.
As a nonprofit, Historic Houston is allowed to hold 2 sales-tax-free sales a year. Similar events put on by the organization in past years have been “pretty big successes,” according to Edmundson. “There seems to be something about not paying taxes” that really encourages people to buy, she says.
Note: The discounting has begun. See update below.
A weekend and a day after she sent out word that Historic Houston’s 7-year-old recycled-house-parts warehouse at 1307 West Clay St. would be shutting down, the nonprofit organization’s founder and executive director says she’s currently evaluating a few options that might allow her to keep the salvage operation in business. “Some very incredible offers came forward on Friday,” Lynn Edmundson tells Swamplot, “and I am spending the next day or two investigating each one to see if any of them will work out . . . as an interim strategy to keep the warehouse opened and operating for a few more months.”
Edmundson also says numerous supporters of the organization asked her to “calculate what cash we would need to stay afloat for 3 months — and then ask for it.” Which she did in a follow-up email she sent out Friday, seeking 500 donations of $100 each. Edmundson says she was encouraged by the immediate response: The first $1,000 was raised within 5 minutes of sending out the request. “We may not raise all that we need,” she says, but whatever amount is raised might “buy us a little more time to explore the options that have been offered.”
Ubiquitous design blogger Joni Webb hyperventilates over the March issue of Veranda magazine, which features actual interior pics of the house Kay O’Toole had built behind her Kay O’Toole Antiques & Eccentricities shop. The shop is in the building with the rounded corners next to the Firkin & Phoenix Pub parking lot at 1921 Westheimer:
I had heard the blogosphere mumbling about this Veranda showing Kay O’Toole’s new house and that was what had my mouth watering like Edward’s whenever Bella is around. Honestly, I’ve been waiting over two years for this issue!
O’Toole owns a French antique shop housed in a 1920s brick building that was once home to several different businesses. Through the years, she eventually acquired the entire building and tore down the dividing walls – creating a long and narrow haven for the best of what France, and now Belgium, Sweden, and Italy have to offer.
O’Toole’s single-story, one-bedroom stucco home — designed by Murphy Mears Architects — is another long and narrow haven, modeled after something O’Toole saw in New Orleans’s French Quarter: It’s one room deep, and backs up to the property’s back fence.
Couldn’t Webb have just charmed her way inside, camera in hand? Oh, she’d tried that:
COMMENT OF THE DAY: SALVAGE ARMY COLLECTIONS, DOOR TO DOOR “It would be great if there was an organization to address this need. I’ve done some drive bys of the listed demos and seen everything from old clothing, furniture, fixtures, windows, cabinets, doors, everything get piled up and thrown into the roll-offs. Historic Houston and Habitat Re-Store seem to let the opportunities come to them rather than seek them out. Is there a way to get the word out to the masses that there is a way to reduce the waste and that salvage is an option?” [mstark, commenting on Demolition Strip Search]
DEMOLITION STRIP SEARCH A reader writes in with a question: “Hi. I recently stumbled upon your website and noticed that you list homes scheduled to be demoed. Is it ok to go to these properties and remove things such as light fixtures, flooring, etc.? Is there a protocol to going about getting permission to do so? Thanks for any info you might be able to provide.” [Swamplot inbox]
Here’s a little video sent to Swamplot from this morning, showing what appeared to a reader to be the beginning of the end for the Wilshire Village apartments. But in a comment to that post, Lynn Edmundson from Historic Houston reports this demo work isn’t really all it’s been cracked up to be:
I just returned from the site…and it looks like they are just breaking up the surface concrete. The contractors on the site are installing plumbing/water lines…and are not with the demolition company.
RECYCLING HOUSTON BUILDING PARTS A new city-run Reuse Warehouse that’s been open for just 2 weeks at 9003 N. Main St. (just north of Crosstimbers) is designed to reduce the amount of excess building materials dumped into landfills. The warehouse accepts donations of extra building materials, and offers them for free to nonprofit organizations. What can you donate? “Cabinets, copper, doors, electrical fixtures and equipment, fans, flooring material, glass, gutters, hardware, lighting, lumber, metal, mirrors, pipe, plumbing, plywood, roofing material, screens, sheetrock, sinks, showers, trim, tubs, wall coverings, or windows” but no paint. “More than one-third of the waste stream in the Houston area is made up of construction and demolition material.” [Green Houston, via Hair Balls]
Next experiment at that Swamplot-Award-winninghouse built out ofshipping containers on Cordell St. in Brookesmith? The unique driveway installed earlier this week. John Walker of Numen Development writes in with details:
It is composed of recycled crushed glass, with a resin binder, and achieves the consistency of caramel popcorn for lack of a better description, so it has voids that allow surface water to percolate through the paving and ultimately be absorbed into the underlying soil rather than running off into the storm drainage system. It is a triple threat: recycled material, reduces environmental impact of development, and it’s really cool!
Walker says Presto Geosystems, a division of Alcoa, installed the driveway as a pilot project for the Houston market.
This installation has been described by their consulting engineer as most likely the “first and last” residential project they will do in Houston as the product is expected to meet with huge commercial demand, especially for “landlocked” developments for whom expansion is limited by Harris County stormwater detention limitations.