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Posts posted by editor

  1. 5 hours ago, Avossos said:

    If I was an architect, I’d give my best with the assignment and budget. Every time.

    silly to think successful firms are not going to design the best building they can.

    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.

    • Like 5
  2. 1 hour ago, thedistrict84 said:

    Why on earth would you consider chain restaurants with a touristy ambiance that serve “bland” food to be “a big win for the area”?

    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.

    • Like 4
  3. 7 hours ago, 77011transplant said:

    A friend (a fully grown adult woman) LOVES Rainforest Cafe. She says it's her favorite restaurant. So there's at least a market of one for this. 

    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.

    • Like 2
  5. On 11/10/2021 at 8:47 AM, Specwriter said:

    It looks like some real craftsmanship and skilled labor went into the construction of that building. That must still exist to some degree in recent times since this part of the façade was reconstructed after 2007. 

    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.

  6. 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.

    • Like 3
  7. 4 hours ago, X.R. said:

    A target or neighborhood walmart makes too much sense. Either one would do crazy numbers, the montrose target and the lower heights/upper washington target both sometimes run out of baby wipes, some fruit and veggies, and cleaning products. Just crazy.

    I think this is a welcome addition to midtown. Right there by that chipotle and pho saigon, that area gets alot of foot traffic, this one should do fine.

    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.

    • Like 3
  8. On 11/8/2021 at 1:51 PM, MidCenturyMoldy said:

    In late August of 2019 I decided to go check out Understory for lunch. I was walking along the building on the Rusk Street side wondering what-the-eff is wrong with this city that no one builds arcades or some sort of shade devices to protect pedestrians from the killer sun.

    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. 

    • Like 5
  9. On 11/7/2021 at 7:46 PM, hindesky said:

    I talked with a guy who works for SCI several weeks ago while biking in the Heights, he told me that they plan on a multi use high rise at the site. Offices for SCI and possible rental or condos on top. Their current offices next door have flooded many times and will move in to the new building when its finished and then will demo their old building. He had no timeline for when this will happen though.

    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.

    • Like 1
  10. 30 minutes ago, InTheLoopFromNYC said:

    A bit off subject but related... What happened to the giant rings with the street names that used to hang at the Post Oak/Galleria area intersections. They were removed before the reconstruction for the bus rapid transit. Is there a plan to bring them back? They were a classy part of the area and tied in with all of the other metallic elements along Post Oak.

    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.

    • Like 4
  11. On 10/22/2021 at 11:02 PM, Big E said:

    Houston Center primarily. The Texas Eastern Corporation bought 32 city blocks and leveled all of it to build Houston Center, which was one of the largest private development projects ever envisioned. However, only a fraction of that land was ever developed to specification, leaving most of the land as vacant parking lots. Most of those blocks remained undeveloped as late as 2004. Four Houston Center was originally the designation of a 54 story office tower, which was never built. The name was subsequently adopted by the squat office building where the shops at Houston Center are.

    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?

  12. 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:


    The 11-story Hotel Cotton was developed by Almon Cotton, a wealthy, investment-loan man from Colorado.  When the Cotton first opened its doors on Saturday, March 1, 1913, people called the building sensational — it was the first hotel in downtown Houston with a bath in all 152 rooms!  Although it was located in what some still considered the countryside (the city had to clear weeds on adjacent land), the Cotton charged very high rates at $1.50 per room and head steady business from the start.  The neighboring Stowers Furniture Company building, which still stands today, supplied the first furniture for the Cotton.  One Houston newspaper later branded the Cotton as the "Shamrock of 1913," which exemplifies its luxurious and impressive modernity at the time.

    Soon after its opening, the Cotton passed through a series of owners, where its name was eventually changed to the Montagu Hotel.  After falling into extreme disrepair, the hotel was demolished on January 20, 2007.

    It's funny, I was there at the demolition, and didn't put that event together with this location. 


    • Like 5
  13. 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.

    • Like 2
  14. 3 hours ago, ATH said:

    The "fountain" on Prairie at Travis, on the north side of the Rice garage, is oftentimes used as a bathtub by the homeless.  These and the planter pylons ought to be removed.  They serve no purpose and create no benefits for those of us who live downtown.

    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.

    • Like 1
  15. 8 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

    The Who concert was in Riverfront Coliseum, not Riverfront Stadium.  Riverfront Coliseum is still standing.  Riverfront Stadium was not demolished until 2002.

    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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