In an email to the West University city council, public works director Chris Peifer sounds the alarm about the steel-frame home with metal siding currently under construction at 2723 Centenary St., a couple blocks west of Kirby: “As the street view of this structure will deviate greatly from the typical street view/appearance of the neighborhood I wanted to give you notification,” Peifer writes, after noting that the city doesn’t prohibit the use of the materials on the home or regulate “personal taste or esthetics.” And then he adds this: “FYI…Heads up. There are high value properties directly adjacent to this property that may take exception.”
The nearby high-value stucco homes themselves are unlikely to raise much of a fuss about the deviant structure rising in their midst, but others already have: A few commenters who’ve responded to an Instant News West U story detailing the email have labeled the home a “monstrosity.” The finished size of 3,957 sq. ft. means it’ll likely rank as the 6th largest house on the short street, barely edging out 2 nearby residences for the title.
“Most of the people that I have spoken with like the house design,” owner Jeff Daniel tells Swamplot. Daniel’s architect is local metal-panel champion Cameron Armstrong, spark plug of the tin-house movement that hit the then-sleepy Rice Military and West End neighborhoods in the nineties — before taller and more aggressive stucco townhouses colonized those areas. Armstrong isn’t just a metal fan: He thinks the material is a much smarter alternative to conventional homebuilding methods.
“There is no more wasteful, dirty, or temporary system of construction than the sealed wooden frames typical of most American houses,” he writes on his website, calling the system “equivalent to sealing wood shavings, toothpicks, glue and water inside a large plastic bag, and leaving it out in the sun for a period of decades.” He tells Swamplot:
Most recent houses in Houston are basically cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic, and covered in smeared plaster or baked mud. They are unlikely to survive more than a few decades. The Centenary house could easily be in use 300+ years from now, mostly due to the materials and how they’re put together. The steel for this building (95%+ recycled) was purchased through Horizon Engineering, a local metal building company, and came largely from local suppliers. The entire exterior will be sheathed with galvalume panels, selected primarily for the material’s inherent beauty, but also because they’ll provide a comprehensive radiant barrier. . . . The insulation value of the walls is R-54+ (probably performs at about R-38) — that compares to R-19 for typical buildings ([which] probably performs at about R-12).
- New West U Home ‘Deviates Greatly’ From Centenary Neighborhood [Instant News West U]
- Progress: Centenary [Cameron Armstrong]
Photos: Instant News West U. Renderings: Cameron Armstrong