The Menil Looks at Richmond

Director Josef Helfenstein tells Cite magazine’s Raj Mankad that the new campus plan architect David Chipperfield is developing for the Menil Collection won’t necessarily involve the demolition of the Richmont Square apartment complex at 1400 Richmond.

The blocks along Richmond could become more dense than the other parts of the campus and serve as a buffer. The Dan Flavin installation – it was the last big piece done while Dominique was still here and Flavin’s last commission before he died – could become a gateway to the North. I actually think, if we do things right, Richmond Hall could help us to eventually integrate commercial development that has high standards with the artistic program we have in mind.

Photo of Richmond Hall and Richmont Square: Raj Mankad

3 Comment

  • The problem with getting rid of Richmont Square (besides the problem of the forced relocation of the many people who live there) is that it reduces density along Richmond just at the moment in history when it makes more sense to increase density.

    Perhaps the Menil could come up with a way to create a structure or structures where the Richmont is that would combine apartments or condos with art space. By branding these apartments with the Menil name, it could bring in even more income than Richmont Square does currently.

  • agreed, i’m surprised so many people would be happy to see this place go based on the comments in that earlier post. i’d imagine the rent at richmont is drastically lower than any of these newer complexes so that means a lot of people being dumped into an ever shrinking lower-rent price range and would force many of them to relocate out of the area altogether.

    i guess us younger folks just worry more about what the montrose will look like once nobody young can afford to live there anymore.

  • I think you’re right that the Richmont’s rents are probably pretty cheap. (I do know that there are 1 bedroom apartments within a block of Richmont Square that rent for $500.) And Richmont Square is not a bad place to live from what I can tell. (I had a friend who lived there and had no particular complaints.) If the Menil tried to replace it with an equal number of units, it seems unlikely that they would charge the same. The price of living there would go up.

    Nonetheless, it is part of a city’s evolution that cool neighborhoods become expensive, and urban pioneer types (students, artists, hipsters) move on to dodgy neighborhoods and start the gentrification process all over again. Houston hasn’t really seen this cycle played out over and over again the way New York or LA or London have, but we’re obviously getting there.Once the rail line goes in, those $500 apartments along Richmond inhabited by grad students will rapidly disappear, I suspect.