09/22/16 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DON’T ACT SO SURPRISED WHEN YOUR OUTER LOOPS GROW UP AND TAKE YOUR JOBS Trains to Office Buildings“I can understand the desire to keep jobs Downtown, as our freeway infrastructure was always designed for funneling traffic to Downtown but not through it (which has definitely backfired on us in recent times). Same for those toy trains we’ve just spent a fortune on for the past decade — the more jobs located downtown, the better the chance of seeing population gains and redevelopment in the surrounding areas as well. However, none of this is reason enough to double down on generation-old infrastructure . . . [and] really, Shell’s offices are nowhere near the ‘burbs of Katy. It’s in one of the largest office markets in the entire city that has been around for a long time now.” [joel, commenting on Shell’s Downtown Operations To Shed Offices, Scurry Over To Larger West Houston CampusesIllustration: Lulu

08/25/16 3:45pm

McMansion Hell critique

What puts the Mc- in McMansion? McMansion Hell hit the Internets recently hoping to answer that question, bringing along slews of illustrative photo examples covered with detailed (if at times bitingly sarcastic) annotations. The author notes that not all large post-1980 houses are McMansions — that’s a matter of factors like these. And not recognizing one isn’t necessarily a matter of having bad taste — it’s a matter of familiarity with basic design principles, which the site attempts to provide.

Starting with a McMansions 101 introductory primer on basic layouts and proportions, most of the site’s posts so far take on specific design aspects (last week’s called out useless and disproportionate column deployment). Other posts take readers on a Zillow-photo walkthrough of a single home — this afternoon’s critique dives into a Houston-area house (shown above), text block by aggravated text block:


McMansion Deconstruction
01/29/16 9:45am

WHICH CAME FIRST: THE TRAFFIC OR THE FREEWAY LANES? Sam Houston Tollway Overpass Over Katy Fwy., Houston“Population growth doesn’t happen independently of transportation infrastructure—it’s profoundly shaped by it,” writes Daniel Hertz over at City Observatory this week. Hertz’s commentary comes in response to pushback following an article in which the blog weighed the outcome of the Katy Freeway’s 2008 expansion (calling out 30- and 55-percent increases in morning and afternoon commute times between 2011 and 2014). Pro-expansion readers purportedly commented that while travel times along the corridor did actually get worse, those same slowdowns would have been even stickier had the expansion not taken place when it did.  But that’s backwards, argues Hertz, or at least a simplification: “In fact, research dating back at least to the 1950s has found over and over that highway construction in the urban periphery is associated with more housing construction there—and the depopulation o[f] urban neighborhoods. . . . Part of the way that highways fill themselves up with cars is by creating demand for housing near them.” [City Observatory, previously on Swamplot] Photo of I-10 West: Andres Lombana [license]  

10/31/14 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: TURNING HOUSTON INSIDE OUT Trains to Office Buildings“It might be that the best outcome for Houston is for the Inner Loop to have an exurban quality of life. Send commuter rail out to the suburbs — not for the suburbanites to commute to downtown — but for the Inner Loopers to commute outbound in the mornings to densely clustered (out of necessity) suburban tall office towers surrounding the stations, and then back into town in the evenings. This is more viable than the traditional idea of New Urbanist suburbs with transit connecting them to a downtown core since politically none of Houston’s suburbs are on board with cultivating a small town ambience, but are ok with letting office builders do their thing. To be sure, suburbanites would still commute to downtown but it will be seen as an aberration. Downtown will still have things to do after dark, but other areas of the Inner Loop, connected by LRT/buses/cars/bikes/sidewalks, will do a much better job of providing the QOL aspiring exurbanites may crave. Suburbanites will, of course, still commute to a large extent to the office towers in their suburb. But they will do so by car, and won’t care about the urbanist quality of life (in other words, nothing will change for them).” [anon22, commenting on Here’s the Freshest Satellite Photo of Downtown Houston You’ll See All Day] Illustration: Lulu

08/08/13 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FOLLOWING THE GREAT CHAIN RESTAURANT MIGRATION “The ironic thing is that surburbanites get made fun of for a supposed lack of urban sophistication, and are portrayed as thinking Chili’s/Applebee’s is the pinnacle of good cuisine. Now, a lot of ethnic cuisine cannot be found inside the Loop and you need to go to the Beltway to find it (Indonesian, Peruvian, Nigerian, Malaysian) but we get a Chili’s and an evil Chick-Fil-A right near downtown.” [eiioi, commenting on Comment of the Day: How We’re Remaking the Inner Loop] Illustration: Lulu

08/07/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW WE’RE REMAKING THE INNER LOOP “Can we just rename the Washington Ave area ‘Little suburbia’? It’s got a Target, Walmart, sonic, Kwik Kar, Chilis, Chick-fil-a, mega-Kroger, Petsmart, a McDonalds, 4 chain sandwich shops, 2 chain burrito places, and both an IHOP AND Denny’s. All pretty much off of a major 8 lane highway. Put a Best Buy & Bed Bath and Beyond and I’m pretty sure it would be a clean sweep. The only difference being that in the suburbs, the city of Houston doesn’t hand out money to build these kind of stores . . . oh wait . . . .” [DNAguy, commenting on Headlines: Dancing in Midtown; Drinking at UH] Illustration: Lulu

05/12/09 7:50pm

Spurred on by family members waiting patiently at the Carrabba’s on Kirby — and the promotional whizzes at GM and CBS Radio, who’ve furnished her with a brand-new vehicle to drive for 8 weeks — mommy blogger and new Chevy Traverse spokesmom Stephanie Click ventures out from her “own little world” in Katy to . . . the scary and purportedly trafficky Inner Loop!

Will she make it? How will her blogger-swag loaner car stand up to the rigors of multi-lane Houston driving?