Crews are now peeling back the corrugated metal paneling that covers over the original façade of the Sears building on the corner of Main and Wheeler, exposing some of the 1930s art deco details underneath. The plain skin was added onto the 4-story structure in the 1960s. It remained in place after the company that manages Rice University’s endowment bought out Sears’ lease on the property 6 months ago and the department store closed in January.
Yesterday, Mayor Turner announced that an extensive redo of the building — overseen by Hines and designed by Gensler along with New York-firm James Carpenter — would transform it into a startup incubation center, the anchor of a 4-mile “innovation corridor” planned between Downtown and the med center. The vertical mosaic pattern pictured above on the south side of the building is one of the first hidden touches to see the light of day as part of the work that’s now beginning to restore the exterior.
Also uncovered is the row of metal beams used to mount the outer shell:
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Art Deco Unveiling
SPANIARDS MOCK CASTLE RESTORED AS SMOOTH CEMENT BLOCK Meanwhile, in Villamartín: Restoration work was recently warpped up on the Matrera castle in southern Spain, fueling backlash from locals, Spanish social media, and the national cultural preservationist group Hispania Nostra, which calls the building’s redo “truly lamentable” and “a massacre of Spanish heritage.” The architect behind the castle’s renovation — which appears to have involved the embedding of the remaining crumbling stone walls into a smooth white box roughly echoing the pre-deterioration volume of the structure — says the project’s main purpose was to prevent the ruins from collapsing; 2011 plans had to be modified after flooding destroyed one of the walls in 2013. Before that, “we couldn’t even get 100 signatures together to restore the building,” says the curator of the local museum. Now that the privately-funded project is complete, he says, “there’s been an outcry. It makes me very frustrated.” Check out video of the castle’s makeover here. [New York Times, Guardian]