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Clementine

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  1. Oh wow. Thanks for the link to the full publication. It's full of gold. The section "Cite Seeing: Great Skyscrapers that Never Were-Or Have Yet to Become" on p.13 is amazing. I've never seen anything on the 1700 Travis 70-storey proposal before. It's reminiscent of NYC's unbuilt Larkin Building and original MetLife North Building from the '30s. And wow...that original 1981 Heritage Plaza design is absolutely horrendous. I'm glad it got postponed and redesigned (and with a height increase as well).
  2. I don't think I've ever seen this posted before, but here's an article from 1984 before BotSW was canceled with a few other images of the runner-up designs and Jahn's conceptual sketches. SOM's proposal doesn't look half bad here compared to other renderings I've seen, but I still prefer the winning design. "Great From Afar, Far From Great: Helmut Jahn's Southwest Center" by John Kaliski. Cite, Spring-Summer 1984. pp. 7-9. http://offcite.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2010/02/GreatFromAfarFarFromGreat_Kaliski_Cite61.pdf Some of our current woes about the perceived pedestrian "emptiness" of downtown that have begun being slowly fixed in the 2010s are reflected rather romantically in Kaliski's final paragraphs: But I think one of the more interesting tidbits comes in the postscript: Once again confirming that the FAA has no real power to limit construction heights in Houston (or at least they didn't in the 1980s, but who knows if the City would side with them or not in the 2020s until we get another supertall proposal like this). It also means that Texas Commerce/JPMorgan Chase Tower could've probably gone through with its original 80 floor plan, but cut themselves to 75 floors for other reasons. (also RIP Helmut Jahn 2021)
  3. HAS actually tries to answer this in their Master Plan. In the short-term, their answer is to just keep adding "piers" that jut out from the terminals. The most likely end result will basically be a continuous ring of terminals with piers surrounding the inner roadways--even on the west side. In the very long term, they have several ideas about what could be done: 1) Restructure A and B into one large terminal-concourse building/complex of buildings--it could be another linear thing, but they also looked at some "satellite" concourses (think Dulles) 2) Build a whole new, full-sized terminal complex to the east of the existing complex https://www.fly2houston.com/biz/about/master-plans Chapter 5 and 6 have some really deep reading and good maps/diagrams of their potential expansions (p.52-end in Chapter 5; the beginning of the chapter discusses where to put a new runway).
  4. Be forewarned: This is a bit of a read with lots of Google Maps screenshots of skyscrapers. I don't think I've seen this iconically Houston style of office architecture discussed anywhere before. I know it's not the most exciting style or the most interesting or the most creative, but I find it very interesting how ubiquitous it seems to be in the metro area while being relatively uncommon in the rest of the country. This isn't to say that it is the only style in Houston, nor that it is exclusive to Houston--in fact, every major city I've checked has had at least one example. To clarify, the type of architecture I'm talking about is roughly as follows: 1) Emphasis on horizontal (or "layered") pattering with little to no vertical elements. Windows almost always continuously wrap around corners where one might expect to see a panel that might be covering a vertical structural element. When the windows don't wrap around corners, the actual vertical element is relatively slim and unnoticeable. 2) Characterized by a color palette of (usually) two contrasting colors for the façade; common examples of panel-window color pairs include white and black, brown and black, white and blue. Occasionally a third or even fourth color might be included for extra contrast. Panels are usually matte, but there are plenty of exceptions to this. 3) Footprints and floorplates are almost always complicated, yet well defined and undetailed ("untextured"?) polygons. Angles of 90° and especially 45° are extremely common, but ~30° and ~15° angles are not uncommon. Some buildings might also opt to use similarly well-defined sections of a circle (e.g. half circles, quarter circles and 45° section of a circle), especially where a corner might go instead. 4) Each floor's outer wall is flush and sheer. No cantilevered shades (see: ExxonMobil Building) or balconies, windows are flush with panels and walls, and architectural "scaffoldings" and external details are absent. Well-defined (e.g. 45° or 30°) slopes might be used in the crown, but the rooftop is usually flat and probably has a similarly styled utility/HVAC box. 5) Geometric setbacks and overhangs at a new floor level are a common element, furthering the "complicated, yet well defined" aspects of each floorplate. "Obliqueness" of the footprint and floorplates compared to the full lot is also common; this leads to a relatively "inefficient" use of the lot compared to a box of a building, but it also adds a lot more character to the style. There are examples that are literally boxes (4 sides, no setbacks, no "obliqueness"), but these are possibly the most boring of the boring. The timeframe for construction for most of the more well-documents buildings seems to have been the 70s and 80s, with a lot of them popping up circa 1980-1985. While the style can range in size from a 2-story local business offices to a downtown skyline icon, most examples lie somewhere in between as 10-30 story, unnamed office towers forgotten behind more glamorous skyscrapers or scattered in the suburbs somewhere along a highway. In case it's still not clear from my descriptions, here are some of the many examples from Houston and other cities around the country: Houston: Downtown: Fulbright Tower (1982) and 4 Houston Center (1982) perfectly exemplify the key features and diversity of this style. Even First City Tower (1981) tried to get in on the action. o Lyric Center (1984) shows how a slanted crown can add some extra pizzazz. Uptown: How many can you count? Four Oaks Place's original four (1983) pushed boundaries of the style with a "futuristic" color palette that included a reflective "techno" teal. Post Oak Central's towers (1975, 1979, and 1982) exemplify the use of circular sections on their corners instead of the more common straight cuts. Uptown is possibly the most dense concentration of this style in the US. Several more "parking garage" buildings in the area. Also a strange example of a related/earlier style is found in 1177 W Loop S (1978), with a less well-defined, not quite quarter-circular shape. Just west of Uptown, another collection of 6 of these buildings. Two of them even went for the interesting color choices of blue+black and red+black. Greenway Plaza: A conventional example of the style is hiding away from the main skyline here, but even Phoenix Tower (1984) subtly sneaks in horizontal layers as seen here: Greenspoint: While seemingly boring at first, a closer look at the examples in the Greenspoint skyline will reveal complex and well-defined notches and floorplates overhanging floors below them. A few more examples in Greenspoint alongside more boring "glass box" architecture. Energy Corridor: Spot the 4 story, sprawling example. Just west of the EC's skyline. Which are offices and which are garages? Several more EC examples a bit south of I-10 Other areas: America Tower (1983) stands in contrast to earlier '60s and '70s "boring box" buildings at the AIG Center. The North Loop has a small collection of these buildings (1982, 1981, 1984, and 1981 from left to right) And at the intersection of 290 and 610. Brookhollow Central II and III (1980 and 1982, respectively) take unique advantage of circles in their design that create a strikingly unforgettable impression, despite their lackluster size and patterning. 59S is dotted with examples... ...lots of examples. Compaq enjoyed variations on the theme (and even a few examples of the exact style to its south). And another cluster by IAH Not even The Woodlands was safe from the style for a time (Timberloch Tower, 1998, demolished 2017). The style is rare to find in the east and south of the metro, but some of the more dense areas do have some sparse examples here and there. Other examples in Texas: San Antonio: San Antonio lacks examples in downtown, but there are a few clusters just south of the airport. Austin: In all, Austin might have a dozen total throughout the metro. Here is one of the largest at 290 and I35. And another singular example just south of downtown. DFW: A decent example is found in downtown Dallas with Ross Tower (1984). Finding clusters of these buildings is not difficult in Dallas by any means, but they are still not as common as they are in Houston. A parking-garage building seen overshadowed by more Dallas-like styles. Even the actual parking garage itself is larger than the building. This building is still a great example of how the style likes to take normal shapes and put a twist (or in this case a shift) in them; notice the "steps" in the building's rectangular form. The oblique and stretched hexagon is a common trope in the parking-garage style. Other examples in the US: Seattle: A classic example in downtown Seattle (Wells Fargo Center, 1983). The entrance at ground level makes nice use of setbacks. And two more that are reminiscent of Post Oak Central's trio of rounded towers (MetroPark West: 1980, MetroPark East: 1988) Los Angeles Southern California: San Diego has a Wells Fargo Plaza (1984), but you'll be hard-pressed to find much else in this city that's exploding with new glass towers and other modern styles. After meticulously combing through Los Angeles proper for a while, I realized that the style--with its oblique edges and "inefficient" use of space--does not exist in the densest parts of the city. Many parts of Greater LA prioritize using as much of the lot as possible, but it seems that Santa Monica is not *as* strict. In fact, just a few miles east, near Brentwood... ...is this pair (coincidentally near Texas Ave). Boston: Boston is not unfamiliar with the style either (on left: One Financial Center, 1983) Baltimore: The style has made its way here too (250 W. Pratt St., 1986) NoVa Suburbs: But I think that the best examples of the architecture outside of Houston is in the western suburbs of Washington, D.C.. Here, we see Tysons Corner, VA filled with examples galore. Tysons Corner is comparable to Uptown Houston in many ways and serves as an edge city of Washington. And another angle within Tysons Corner. Reston, VA (Another edge city of Washington along the Silver Line) is similarly parking-garage-y. And so, if you've made it this far without quitting, thank you! What do you think? Do you think this could be considered a truly Houston-style of architecture? Do you know of another city that has a high concentration of this style? What would you call this specific style of modernist/post-modernist architecture? Do you know of any other architectural styles that seem to have a location concentration as biased as this? Do you have any interesting anecdotes relating to a building like this? The floor is open and I hope this sparks some interesting thoughts on the topic. :)
  5. I cant believe that no one mentioned the old railway line that still existed in the ‘70s that used to run to late Grand Central Station! I know it stopped service in the 50s, but I thought they had just completely ripped up the tracks then and there instead of leaving them.
  6. I don’t know much about it, but I do know that once Pride Month was coming around, the Eagle in Montrose put up a timeline of the LGBT rights movement in the upstairs bar that included the founding of the Diana Foundation in 1953 and stated that it’s was the oldest (still surviving) group. I’ve really wanted to look more into that since it affects me directly also.
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