Local Design Mag Wants You To Reinvent Houston’s Police HQ Complex — in Minecraft

LOCAL DESIGN MAG WANTS YOU TO REINVENT HOUSTON’S POLICE HQ COMPLEX — IN MINECRAFT Minecraft Model of Houston Police Headquarters, 61 Riesner St., HoustonThe online and offline publications of the Rice Design Alliance have announced a design competition to “reimagine” the area surrounding the city’s 21-acre police, courthouse, and jail complex centered around 61 Riesner St. between the Sixth Ward and Downtown — within the virtual world of Minecraft. Models of a number of existing buildings in the area bounded roughly by Houston Ave., Washington Ave, Preston St., I-45, and Memorial Dr. have already been crafted in the video game’s distinctive blocky style for the venture (try this server address:, including Kenneth Franzheim’s 1950 Streamline Moderne HPD HQ itself (above); the publication is still seeking help to model other existing structures, including the Ferris Wheel and Aquarium on the opposite side of I-45. But simply blockifying existing structures isn’t the focus of the competition; instead, the editors of Cite magazine and the Offcite blog hope beginning or experienced users of the gaming environment will be inspired to inflict their visions of the larger area’s possible future on the design jury of one — New York design critic Alexandra Lange. [Offcite; map of site] Rendering: JP Dowling

14 Comment

  • If they’re going to strip it of all it’s Art Deco WPA styling, then just tear it down. In addition, even I’d stripped inside, do you really want to live in an old jail? The location is great, I’m sure it will be ripped down and something much more substantial built in its place. Personally, I won’t miss this building in the least nor looking at all the barred up windows and billion cop cars, it always looked so Orwellian and grimacing…good riddance.

  • As long as it doesn’t include the jail or courthouse, I am happy!

  • I guess it is more 50’s Moderne, sorta stripped down Art Deco. At any rate, does the Rice Design team have any affiliation with this property or are they just having a design competition for the fun of it. I guess it’s cool to come up with ideas, but if you really have no say in what’s built there, it’s kinda a waste of time. I’m sure a developer will rip all these buildings down and start fresh, it would be extremely expensive to rehab a complex like this, though to many I’m sure the original building is historic and has architectural merit, tho in Houston, let’s face it, that doesn’t amount to much.

  • A bunch of 9 to 14 year old “my parents just dont understand” architects designing how a police station should look. This will go well…. in reality though, i like the fact that they are reaching out through this platform.

  • Does anyone actually read the referenced articles before posting their typical negative kneejerk reactions?

    “Entries will be judged on the best and most creative use of the area. The main goal is to enjoy the process. Selections will be made on a variety of criteria. All proposals need not be practical or imminently feasible. Water parks, urban farms, communes, veterans housing, police facilities, a giant monument to Bill Hicks — Minecraft’s digital sky is the limit. We hope this game will inspire Houstonians.”

    It’s FOR FUN. Use your limited imagination.

  • I’d keep it just like it is, but fill it with Creepers.

  • Phil–Doing things for fun is “kinda a waste of time,” apparently.

  • I think mixed use, office, retail, park, and restaurants should do this area right. The key is how you posisition the buildings and control traffic. A parking garage needs to happen somewhere in this area as well.

  • So Phil, what you’re saying is that these designs really will have no impact on what gets built here and no developer has really ask them to do this. It’s kinda like a project you’d do as an undergraduate at UH, which is cool, but does it really need a plug on Swamplot. Have fun Phil, I’m sure the professor will love your entry that in actuality will never be used, but have fun with your hobby, and stick to decaf.

  • I like fun with a side of learning. I passed the link on to my kid. Fun is never a waste.

  • Oh,this’ll be revealing. I bet some young people CAN come up with WAY better designs/uses for this long neglected property. Of course, some developer (possibly from out of town/ state ,with DEEP POCKETS -or solid financing) will swoop in , make “campaign contributions” to key City Council members, get approval from the future administration, and viola a Phoenix will arise from the pile of toxic rubble (which likely contains ASBESTOS / LEAD and who knows what other nasty materials !!!! And that people IS how things work !!!!

  • Shannon, REAAALLLY? Obviously it attracted your wonderful insights, so I guess Swamplot is a happy boy today. If someone comes up with something more inspired than a sea of pad sites lined with retail strip centers and some typical midrise apartments, maybe it could challenge some developer to think outside the box. This is a prime site on par with the east side Brown & Root property. I do share your pessimism that anything progressive will come of this, but kudos to RDA for attempting to better our fair city. The one thing Houston lacks today with all our growth and booming economy is some power broker like Hoffeinz or Hines to ally with city government and do something progressive and eye-opening with regard to urban planing. Where are todays visionaries? OK back to my triple latte decaf . . .

  • Does the Minecraft software allow you to replicate the leaky roof over the DNA crime lab?

  • My warm and fuzzy memories of this site are limited to dealing with traffic tickets and jury duty. The obvious Minecraftian improvement is the addition of numerous TNT blocks.