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editor

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Everything posted by editor

  1. Architects usually do their best job. But they are almost always constrained by the client's budget. Or worse — they put together a fantastic plan that is within budget, only to find out later that the budget has been cut. I can't count the number of times I've seen some really good first rendering of a project "value engineered" into blandness.
  2. Maybe because they draw in other businesses. If a big chain sees potential in an area, other companies will follow. This isn't just a theory, it's how a lot of retail works. For example, when a new mall scores an Apple Store, other stores will fall all over themselves to get a space there, too. It's why retail real estate developers sometimes have fake almost-Apple Stores drawn into their renderings. It brings in interest from others. Back in my college marketing classes, we learned that one of the diner chains (Denny's, I think) famously did zero location research. It just built next to Holiday Inns whenever it could. It piggybacked off of the hotel's research.
  3. I'd go. My wife and I had one of our first dates at a Rainforest Cafe in Minnesota. Because of that, it has a special place for us, and we go to one in each city we live. I seem to remember that the one on Galveston was extra special because it had a tunnel of love ride.
  4. It's good that you took the time to express your feelings that way. Hopefully your message didn't just go to the corporate marketing department in Boise where it was roundfiled. The Midtown Randall's isn't what it should be. I've shopped there since the day it opened. And I guarantee that nobody has power washed that basement parking area since the day it opened. It seems to be trying to do too much for too many people, and manages to underserve everyone. If it could just be good at the basics, that would be enough. I don't know if it's a reaction to the Whole Foods opening, but it really should ditch the grab-n-go and hot bar and similar things and refocus on the fundamentals. You can't get everything at Whole Foods. Randall's should carry the rest. But then again, hot bar and grab-n-go are the few items with big profit margins for supermarkets these days. I'm not sure what the solution is. Right now, my primary grocery source is HEB delivery. Then for fresh things, Central Market and Phoenicia. Only when I can't get something from those three places, I head down to Randall's. But so far, that's only been twice in four months.
  5. And by "more information." Brookfield means "no more information." There's nothing there about The Highlight. Interesting that Gensler is doing the design. Isn't Gensler in Houston Center? Good dogfooding opportunity.
  6. Just a reminder to all not to copy-and-paste full articles from the Chronicle or elsewhere. This is a copyright issue, and also a violation of the terms you agreed to when you joined HAIF. Summarize and link.
  7. For a few years I worked with a company that does this kind of work. Not exterior brick and such, like this facade, but interiors. A lot of it was for old movie and opera house renovations, and also for movie sets. Occasionally, they'd get a big commission for a mansion. It was a family owned company, and when I was working with them, it had been for something like 130 years.
  8. Saying that the neighborhoods followed the big stations in Europe is really cherry-picking. There are plenty of stations that were intentionally brought directly into the hearts of their cities: Frankfurt, London, Budapest, etc. The secondary stations were built farther out (Gare du Nord in Paris, for example), but not because people didn't want to be near the stations, but because those locations made sense geographically. Trains going north used a station on the north end of town (Gare du Nord, Paris again; King's Cross, London). Trains going west used a station on the west side of town (Paddington, London). It's worth remembering that back then, people didn't think of trains as filthy, noisy things to be avoided. Smoke, soot, and noise were considered good things — signs of progress. That's why skyline paintings and sketches and such from that era always prominently displayed smokestacks and smoke. Those were signs of a bustling, important city. As for the department stores at train stations, I think these are always great. I've been to dozens of them from Japan to Singapore to South Korea to Hong Kong, and elsewhere in Asia. But the reason those things work there is because the train companies own the buildings. A big part of the way mass transit is funded in Asia is through real estate speculation. The train companies put up giant malls and skyscrapers and such around their stations because they own the land. It's the whole "build it and they will come" thing. It works great. It used to work here. Most of America's grand hotels in the west were built by railroad companies to give people reasons to use the railroads. Half of the suburbs of Chicago were founded by railroad companies so that people would commute into the city. But there's been a cultural shift in America, where it's widely seen as a bad thing for railroad companies, especially ones run by governments or quangos, to also put up buildings. It's perfectly OK for a government to engage in real estate speculation by investing its employees' pensions into buildings. But because we have learned not to trust our government with finances, we don't like the investment to be direct. Somehow, abstracting it away to a middle man is palatable. But then, it's not the taxpayers who benefit. Only the government employees, via their pensions.
  9. Ah, you're right. It was six. I checked Apple Maps: Gotta lay off the crack waffles.
  10. I really thought the sign read 7. I'll take a picture the next time I walk by. Maybe I'm smoking crack waffles.
  11. This is a new wine bar at 802 Milam. I saw signs for this in August. Now I see construction is happening.
  12. I'm not so sure about a Neighborhood Wal-Mart. A few years ago, Wal-Mart started closing those. It also had a bad habit of getting into "up and coming" neighborhoods by promising not to sell liquor. Then once the doors opened, applying for a liquor license. A CityTarget would be great. Put one in downtown, too. The CityTargets on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis and State Street in Chicago both do a metric buttload of business, are assets to their neighborhoods, and help bring in high-rise residential developments.
  13. It might be easier to just get a job in security consulting. I had a neighbor for a while who was a big-city police chief. When he got bounced, that's what he did.
  14. In Chicago, nobody built arcades, either, until the city gave the developers reasons to do so. Now, if a building has an arcade or a public through-lobby, the developer gets extra height allowance. Obviously, that won't work in Houston, since the developers decide their own heights. But perhaps there is some other carrot that can be offered to make these skyscrapers more neighborhood-friendly.
  15. Nothing says "downtown" like "farm finishes."
  16. That should be a heck of an implosion, should the demolition go that route. KHOU staffers used to use the cafeteria in the basement of the SCI building. They used to call it The Coffin Café. I don't know if that was its official name, or just a nod to its owners.
  17. FWIW, for the last few days, I've noticed that they're cleaning up the ground floor, preparing to reopen the curb lanes and finishing up the sidewalks.
  18. Oh, wow. I didn't even know those were taken out. I haven't made it out to the Galleria area yet. So sad; they were iconic. People I met across the country knew about them. Not regular people. Architecture enthusiasts. But still, people.
  19. I see a sign up for 7 Houston Center, but I don't have a sense of how long it's been there. Any chance of that happening, or is that project dead?
  20. I took my first stroll through the downtown tunnels today and came across a slice of the Hotel Cotton's facade preserved underneath 811 Main, which used to be in that location. There's a descriptive plaque nearby which reads, in part: It's funny, I was there at the demolition, and didn't put that event together with this location.
  21. My wife cleaned out our storage space today, and there are a few items that she is no longer interested in owning. Since there are a lot of people on HAIF with good design sense and an interest in vintage things, I thought I'd post pictures of them here. They are all available for free, but you have to come pick them up downtown. PM me to let me know which ones you're interested in. Note that the little greenhouse is not vintage/midcentury. It's Ikea.
  22. I really need to finally find out who my city councilperson/alercritter is. It's been on my list for a while, but I guess this is as good a reason to find out as any.
  23. That just sounds like scapegoating. Homeless people take dumps on the sidewalk, should the city stop building sidewalks? The fountain pylons were very nice when they were new. I enjoyed seeing them all the time. They could be fixed up, but the larger question in my mind is why all those tax dollars were allowed to rot in the first place.
  24. Thanks for the correction. I'm not surprised my memory of those years was foggy. Is Riverfront Coliseum where the Mighty Ducks used to play? I went to a few of those games.
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