THE RISE AND DECLINE OF AMERICA’S GRANITE COUNTERTOPS OBSESSION Revising the conclusions of his “what made granite countertops so popular” story from 2 years ago, Phil Edwards notes in this new video evidence that the mania for Brazilian, Chinese, and Indian stone surfaces in U.S. kitchens and baths reached its peak about a decade ago: “2006: The granite bubble and housing bubble came at the same time. Just as laminates rode technological and construction booms in the ’50s, granite rode similar waves in the 2000s. Granite was good, but its timing made it overrated — and that might be why we’re starting to correct. The end of that chart [of worked-granite imports to the U.S.] shows a dip in granite. That’s for a lot of reasons, some of which are bigger than interior design trends. But if you watch house hunting shows you’ll see there are other materials catching on.” [Vox; previously on Swamplot] Video: Vox
The latest of Gensler’s renderings of that midrise parking garage planned atop the recently evacuated location of nightclub and drag venue Meteor shows the structure rocking a swath of greenery in place of the decorative bicycles pictured across the facade in earlier drafts. Cara Smith reports in the Houston Business Journal this week that the garage is one of the projects that Gensler is “future proofing” — that is, designing with an eye to an eventual decline in Houston parking garage needs, whether spurred by the rise of self-driving cars or other shifts in transportation patterns. The firm was featured by Web Urbanist last month in an article discussing some of its other current garage projects, some of which are being outfitted with conversion-minded utility hookup spacing, as well as ceiling heights suited to something other than car stacking; modular features like easy-to-tack-on facades and removable ramps are also in the mix.
There appear to be 6 retail spots in the foot of the garage that will be ready for tenants before such time as the rest of the garage might hypothetically be repurposed (along with a slew of other spaces in the development, per Edge Realty’s leasing flier):
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.
First order of business at all future meetings around Motile: achieve full consensus on table height. The rendering above from Mayfield and Ragni Studio shows the Houston architecture and design firm’s plan for an adjustable conference table, allowing working teams to alternate at will between sitting and standing (so long as they can unanimously agree on exactly when to do so). The table is headed for this summer’s NeoCon design trade show, where it’s in the running for a HiP award; if you like the idea, the trade show’s online voting system appears to still be operational (though the voting period appears to have formally ended yesterday).
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BEAUTY OF THE FAMILY SEDAN “The perceived blandness of modern office buildings has nothing to do with the lack of vision or enthusiasm of developers, it has to do with where the money comes from today. Decades ago there were eccentric millionaires and corporations with money to burn on monuments of their own egos, but these days money only comes from carefully calculated, vetted, reexamined, audited, and risk assessed finance packages. Throw in a healthy dose of anti-wealth and anti-corporate profit sentiment in the US and you have the real estate equivalent of a Toyota Camry — simple, functional, non-offensive, and very forgettable.” [commonsense, commenting on New Spec Office Building on Montrose Blvd. Will Sit Atop Southwest Fwy. Wall Vines] Illustration: Lulu
COMMENT OF THE DAY: A BY-THE-DECADE GUIDE TO HOUSTON HOME CLICHES “. . . How to estimate when a home was built:
Before 1920s: has a historical marker out front.
1920 & 30s: large porched front on narrow lots.
1940s: houses built low to the ground — almost always look identical to each other.
1950s: seafoam green/Pepto Bismol-pink tile in the bathrooms.
1960s: wood paneling in the den.
1970s: diagonal exterior wood plank paneling.
1980s: skylights, skylights, skylights.
2000s: faux Tuscan exteriors.
2010s: Tear down something from the above list and build whatever in its place. Doesn’t matter what — we’ve run out of ideas at this point.” [Native Houstonian, commenting on Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: Dead Animal Planet] Illustration: Lulu
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEN NOTHING IS BETTER THAN SOMETHING “. . . this is Houston, where most people think that something is better than nothing (like a WalMart). If you live here long enough, you learn the hard way to stop expecting much from local developers — even those who build amazing things in other cities. They don’t bother here, mostly because they don’t have to. No zoning, no planning, no architectural or design reviews, hell the 4th largest city in the land doesn’t even have an architecture critic on staff anywhere (only food and arts critics in H-town), so no bad reviews — just kudos from the press for ‘at least’ doing something. Houston has become the land of ‘at least’; at least they built something; at least it’s not an empty lot anymore; at least . . . Empty lots are underrated.” [Jon, commenting on Hanover’s Next Apartment Tower for BLVD Place]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE KEY TO THE CITY “Just what the heck is regionally appropriate in style for Houston? That is the most idiotic comment that I have heard. Everything about Houston is imported from someplace else in order replace or augment what is natural to Houston. This include the folks who have moved here over [the] last 150 years. Going back to the Allen brothers, the whole idea has been to cover up what Houston “Is” and make it into what is is not.” [Bubba, commenting on Comment of the Day: Importing the Right Look for Houston]