10/04/12 3:23pm

The regional tourism building planned for the northern of the 2 blocks between Minute Maid Park and the GRB will be called the Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, Mayor Parker announced today. It’ll be named after beer distributor and $8-million-donor John Nau; fundraisers hope waving the rendering pictured above will help drum up an additional $32 million to get the thing built. ($15 million more is coming from Houston First, the “government corporation” that runs the city’s convention center, the Hilton Americas Hotel, and several city performance venues.)

The design leaves room for 2 houses dating from 1904 and 1905 and moved to the site last year, the only surviving structures from the neighborhood on nearby blocks named Quality Hill that by the 1930s had vanished — along with its storied reputation for integrity and elevation. The rendering also shows (at far right) the saved-from-scrap 1919 Southern Pacific 982 steam engine parked on the curb across from the East End Light Rail Line along Capitol St. Between the houses and the locomotive will sit the Nau Center’s signature dome entrance, held aloft, the rendering from Bailey Architects shows, by a ring of dainty columns resting at sidewalk level and a circular wall of glass.


09/28/12 4:21pm

GRANTS TO SPARK MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER FUNDRAISING The consortium of independent arts organizations planning a theater and gallery complex at the corner of Main and Holman just got a step closer to the $25 million it needs to build the project. Two weeks ago, the group received a $750K grant from the Fondren Foundation. Last week it got word of an even bigger haul: a $6 million grant from the Houston Endowment. In August, the group — which includes DiverseWorks, Fotofest, and Main St. Theater — changed its name from the Independent Arts Collaborative to “The MATCH,” short for the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston. The 59,000-sq.-ft. complex at 3400 Main St. is being designed by a match-up of San Antonio’s Lake Flato Architects and Houston’s Studio Red. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering: The MATCH

09/20/12 2:00pm

Construction of the complex’s overall expansion isn’t quite finished yet, but a new section of the resale shop at the Memorial Assistance Ministries in Spring Branch will open officially for the first time this weekend anyway. And oh, by the way, says the group’s marketing manager, in advance of that the shop at 1625 Blalock Rd. north of Long Point is actually open already. The new section adds 4,000 sq. ft. of retail space to showcase more of the used clothing and household stuff people keep donating. Another 4,200 sq. ft. was also added to the warehouse area to sort through it all. New totals: 14,000 sq. ft. for the store, plus 8,400 sq. ft. in the warehouse. The program’s executive director says the store typically generates enough income to fund MAM adult education programs and other assistance for more than 800 families.

The new store space, designed by Kirksey, is at the northern end of the complex’s original building (in the front at right in this new photo):


08/31/12 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: MACKIE AND KAMRATH DENTAL BUILDING WAS GETTING A BIT LONG IN THE TOOTH “That building may have looked good from the outside (from a distance; up close you could see the re-bar holding the granite slabs on) but it was WAY outdated on the inside. No way was it set up for a class of 100 students, which is what the School of Dentistry now enrolls every year. I taught in a basement classroom there for 4 years. Between the complete lack of reliable electricity to all of the outlets and the jury-rigged data cables and conduits, it was a minor miracle we didn’t burn the place down or break someone’s neck during labs. And don’t get me started on the thermostats! Never knew if I was gonna need a sweater or a shower after class.” [Sunsets, commenting on M.D. Anderson Planning To Extract Dental Branch from Med Center]

08/31/12 12:00pm

The sign isn’t up yet, but this new classroom building at the University of Houston’s business school is being named after a human-resources company. Insperity gave the school $8 million, apparently enough to warrant the company’s name appearing in 1-1/2-ft.-tall neon-backlit letters at the top of Insperity Center. According to a UH document, the sign should be clearly visible to visitors on the west side of campus.

The 140,000-sq.-ft. building, previously referred to as the “classroom and business building,” just opened west of the Bauer College of Business’s Melcher Hall. Construction began in 2009.

Photo: HAIF user fatesdisastr

08/16/12 12:46pm

Additions and renovations to this metal-clad warehouse building tucked between the Eastex Fwy. and the Chenevert St. entrance ramp headed north from Minute Maid Park have begun, the city announced today. The 2-story, 19,080 sq. ft. building tucked behind the Star of Hope Mission on Ruiz St. will become the 84-bed Houston Center for Sobriety, modeled after a smaller facility in San Antonio called the Restoration Center. When the $4.3 million project is completed later this year, police will deliver drunks to the 150 N. Chenevert St. address instead of jail, for a little R&R.

Photo: Candace Garcia

07/06/12 1:35pm

UT’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center plans to build this 8-ish story pavilion, called The Pavilion, in front of the Alkek hospital at the corner of Bertner and Bates streets in the Med Center — replacing the pavilion-like rotunda that stands there now. The new building will house the center’s interventional radiology department (on its third floor) as well as 11 new operating rooms. The 185,000-sq.-ft. structure, designed by Dallas’s HKS, includes 2 partial-height floors for maintenance above the operating rooms plus a mechanical floor at the top. Construction is expected to cost $102 million, and be complete by the end of 2015. An accompanying $96 million renovation of the adjacent Alkek hospital will extend into 2019.

Rendering: HKS, via M.D. Anderson

06/11/12 1:43pm

A reader who normally parks in the full-block surface parking lot on Clay St. on the east side of the Bell light-rail station downtown was shocked to discover his usual parking option vanished when he came in to work last week: “About three quarters of the lot has now been fenced off.” Inside the blue fence, at left in the photo above: a couple porta-potties and “one large piece of digging equipment.” So far, reports the reader, about a third of the fenced portion has been dug out — to a depth of about 3 ft.

That’s probably just enough of a hole to plant the new 10,000-sq.-ft. childcare center for employees of JPMorgan Chase (or rather, their children) that Skanska USA is building. The U.S. branch of the Swedish development company bought the property earlier this year.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/08/12 11:21am

L.A. architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee will be the designers of the Menil Collection’s new Drawing Institute building, the organization’s board announced late yesterday. Their firm, Johnston Marklee, beat out Tatiana Bilbao, SANAA, and David Chipperfield Architects for the commission. The exact location for the building hasn’t been decided yet, though a Menil spokesperson previously told Swamplot the southern portion of the campus (depicted above in a Johnston Marklee graphic) was likely, and the Menil’s description of the LA firm’s design proposal makes it clear it’ll be long and thin: “a single-story, metal-roofed structure . . . built around a trio of courtyards.”


05/17/12 9:53pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE CRY OF THE INSTITUTIONAL FUNDRAISER “It’s all well and good to have a foundation, but what’s the fun of being a billionaire if you don’t have some buildings with your name on it?” [Robert Boyd, commenting on Midtown Arts Center Interim Design Review: How Do You Like It Now?]

05/10/12 10:21am

Here’s a view of the 4-story, 93,760-sq.-ft. performing arts center the University of St. Thomas plans to build on the northwest corner of its Montrose campus, on the full city block bounded by West Alabama, Yupon, Sul Ross, and Graustark. A feature article on the project in the university’s magazine describes the site provocatively as being “adjacent to the Menil Collection,” but it’s really catty-corner to the Menil block that contains the Rothko Chapel, a long block east of the Menil’s famed shielded-by-bungalows main building. In the drawing above you’re looking at the new UST center from high above the Rothko Chapel’s east lawn, toward the corner of Sul Ross and Yupon.


04/23/12 11:31am

The brand-new home of the Menninger Clinic — tucked behind the Fiesta on South Main south of the Loop, just east of South Post Oak Rd. — has only 15 more beds than the facility it’s been leasing from Metro National at the corner of Gessner and Kempwood in West Houston for the last 9 years. Plans from 5 years ago to build a significantly larger facility closer to the Texas Medical Center with enough space for 24 additional psychiatric patients were scaled back — and the project delayed — because of fundraising difficulties. But among other improvements, the new place should feel a whole lot more open. At 50 acres, the new $65 million campus is 36 acres larger than the current one, and features 650 trees. The buildings, designed by Kirksey Architecture and just completed by Tellepsen Builders, mimic a Frank Lloyd Wright-flavored Prairie style, but apparently without any of those annoying low ceilings.


04/13/12 12:34pm

Where exactly on the Menil Collection campus in Montrose will the new 18,000-sq.-ft. Drawing Institute building be built? That’s for one of 4 architecture firms to decide. The organization announced late yesterday that Mexico City architect Tatiana Bilbao, LA’s Johnston Marklee, 2010 Pritzker Prize winner SANAA from Tokyo, and Menil master plan designer David Chipperfield Architects are the finalists to get the commission. Chipperfield’s 2009 plan for the campus doesn’t dictate a particular site for the new structure, which will combine exhibition areas, offices, storage, and conservation space for the Menil’s growing collection of drawings. But a Menil spokesperson tells Swamplot that the southern portion of the campus is a likely location, and that the building’s footprint “will be similar to that of the Twombly Gallery.”

Photo of Richmond Hall and Richmont Square Apartments on Richmond Ave: Raj Mankad

03/06/12 11:36am

The Children’s Assessment Center is passing around this sketch showing the huge expansion the child-sexual-abuse resource center is planning at 2500 Bolsover in the Rice Village, just east of Kirby. (The view is along Bolsover, with Kirby at the far left.) The existing 55,000-sq.-ft. building, shown on the far right, opened in 1998. An additional 75,000 sq. ft. of space will go in a 4-story structure that’ll sidle up to it and connect to the existing floors. A new conference and training center will fit inside, along with space for the 44 partner agencies the CAC works with. To make room for the addition, the existing 330-car parking garage will be torn down; a new 420-car garage will go up along the Kirby side, right behind the new Frost Bank built on a portion of the former Village Plaza Shopping Center.


02/10/12 2:11pm

The Asia Society Texas Center has been providing previews of its new headquarters building in a series of private events, but Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi’s new Museum District landmark isn’t scheduled to open to the public until the second half of a 4-day celebration beginning April 12th. By then the $48.4 million modern building will be outfitted with an exhibition of Asian art from the Rockefeller Collection.

In the meantime, the organization has released to Swamplot a more complete set of images than what’s been available so far — documenting photographer Paul Hester‘s take on the ins and outs of the new 38,000-sq.-ft. structure on Southmore Blvd. between Caroline and Austin: