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  1. Menu sounds great and the space is an attractive setting for some Persian food.
  2. It is incorrect to characterize the NYT and NYers in general as anti-development. Real estate interests are perhaps the most powerful political players in NY State and the City, they build on a scale that dwarfs our projects. Compare Hudson Yards to one of our town centers in physical size, the amount of capital committed and the engineering challenges overcome . But it's a different type of development than our format of commerce on the feeder road, two thousand houses on curving streets with retention ponds on a thousand acres, a scaled down outpost of our hospital system every 15 miles. Houston is fortunate in that it has no natural barriers to development , except south of Galveston. For better or worse , our model can metastasize all the way to Dallas going north and to San Antonio and Austin on the west and to the Louisiana border on the east. We truly could be what we have been described as, the "blob that ate East Texas".
  3. The underlying dynamic is that the extra lanes fill up with cars because the additional capacity makes land on the periphery within commuting distance for workers heading into the core and for those in the core who are employed in warehouses and manufacturing operations that need large facilities on cheap land built on the edge off the sprawl. . The road system is the necessary framework that supports our particular type of urban development : suburban sprawl , so that Houston now covers 650 plus square miles of relatively low density development. As the prairies, swamps, farmland and forests get paved over they lose their capacity to retain and detain storm water. The costs of flooding are shifted to areas down gradient. . Finally, it commits us to a built environment in which individuals are dependent for almost every task : work, school, shopping , entertainment , on auto transport, which for the next decade at least is powered by gasoline,. and makes mass transit and densification in the future not feasible. If commuting patterns have really been changed by work-at home options, and 25% of our office space remains vacant in perpetuity, projects like the I 45 expansion may be overkill, as the workers it intends to serve during rush hour may not be driving to downtown offices as anticipated before we got comfortable with Zoom meetings and working remotely.
  4. nice to see there new landscape handling the weekend's rainfall as intended.
  5. It's nice being located next to the Target. You can pick up your head ache medicine before buying an expensive bottle of champagne at le club and getting dizzy breathing in fumes from the hopped up euro-trash sports cars rumbling at a low roar while you wait for the valet attendants to bring your Tesla around. The Rainbow Room on the top of 30 Rock its not.
  6. I recently visited Columbus, Indiana, a small city of 50,000 that Cummings Engine calls its headquarters. Columbus has been the beneficiary of a program that ran during the last half of the last century to hire world-class architects to design churches ( Eliel Saarinen), the library ( Pei), shopping center ( Pelli), private estates ( Eero Saarinen), a corporate building for the local newspaper ( SOM), schools, a local bank, post office ( Roche) and Cummings Engine's global hq (Roche). The program had mixed results. Columbus felt like a small college town with some interesting architecture during summer break , thus absent students and the lively culture that I associate with college life. The program was sponsored by the Miller family, which founded Cummings and owned the local bank and a multitude of other holdings in Columbus. It provided sophisticated contemporary design for public and commercial buildings not often seen in small town America , but failed to address bringing more residents downtown by providing housing. This was driven in part by racism, as the city opposed ( and the Millers supported) Fair Housing ordinances and zoning changes that would have allowed a diverse group of people to reside there. (Slum clearance resulted in a nice riverfront park with a memorial to the neighborhood of run down housing that was home to a diverse group of people). It seems that Columbus did not get the best work out of these architects and many of the buildings seem dated, and dreary, especially the Roche designed post office. Without a local population the mall was not a success and was demolished. The newspaper closed and its building now houses a school of architecture. The local bank building sits vacant. The Cummings HQ ( picture attached) is another of Roche's sprawling mega-structures that extends several city blocks and wraps around an historic industrial building that was surreally placed in the middle of a reflecting pond. To me, it looked like a metastasized structured parking facility, and was dehumanizing from the street level. I can't imagine how diminished an employee might feel driving into one of its tiered parking lots and then parking his or her rear in one of the thousands of workspaces in one of the office modules. Many of these low-rise one tenant corporate campuses have become white elephants and hard to reuse once the corporation is sold, merges or otherwise changes its business model. It's nice to see that Midway has found a way to find new uses and a second life for this one.
  7. The tone of the statement on the use of the facility is all wrong. It has a dismissive quality and reeks of high self-regard that one might have heard in a statement that came out of the mouth of Leona Helmsely a decade ago. The theme is : We're too busy with our very important work to shape your community's future to actually get to know you and have you interact with our staff on a regular basis. When we want to hear from you we'll schedule a meeting at a time and place convenient for us. The Endowment could have gotten the information across in a way that does not make it seem like an insular, elitist institution walled off from the community it purports to serve. The PR rep or communications officer should be given a lesson in how to "howdy". Unless I am all wrong and the institution prides itself as a place where one passes the Gray Poupon.
  8. The outdoor rooms on either side of the main axis towards the lake are fantastic this time of year with the prairie plants in bloom or going to seed. Also, the down lighting which illuminates the ravines under the bridges was a brilliant idea. Haven't seen this form of landscape lighting used elsewhere. Having the areas lit lessens the fear of abduction and other criminal activity at night, and hopefully makes those incidents rare.
  9. Quite a different attitude towards guns, immigrants, social obligations and inequality in Toronto than in Texas. We live in a fortress society to some extent to protect us from the chaos that we sometimes mistake for liberty.
  10. Visited the Menil and the Rothko Chapel campus on Saturday. Would have been nice to have a drink at the bar of the hotel afterwards. In terms of scale, vibe and tone, I think it will be a good addition to the neighborhood.
  11. I think that the design is in keeping with the tradition of enclosed gardens in Persia and India and is appropriate for its intended use. . It's not a place of commerce, or finance or mass entertainment , but rather a place more contemplative and a refuge from all of that; a sacred space amid the profane. It's certainly more connected to the physical environment and a more meditative environment than some of the other houses of worship in Houston that have a regional or national reputation, e.g. Lakewood Church, Second Baptist or the Cathedral downtown. It doesn't shout " Look at Me" or attempt to dominate or intimidate . Given that we experience most of the built environment in Houston as a drive by, I assume that there will be many who pass by this center on Allen Parkway on a daily basis and will have no clue as to the garden and architectural spaces. But not all. There are many who avail themselves of the trails along Buffalo Bayou and I think it will pique their curiosity. In the way that it doesn't give it all away at the street level , it's quite seductive. If the center develops a program of lectures and concerts and other public events it will be experienced by many Houstonians of all faiths, including non-believers. Security has to be a major concern to a large Islamic center of worship in the US , and especially in Texas with its open carry laws. It would be unwise to have people with guns walking in off the street into this center without having to pass through a security checkpoint.
  12. One of the out door areas looks like they stole Turrell's oculus from the Rice Skyspace, supersized it and neglected the magical lighting effects that makes it buzz. I used to live in Hedwig Village within walking distance to the mall. MetroNational has produced average buildings with no architectural distinction and little sense of place . Memorial City defined by its parking lots, maze of interior walkways and bridges on the hospital side and location adjacent to a 24 lane freeway. I walked over there, but a pedestrian friendly location it is not .
  13. My experience with private dining rooms in NY and Florida is that when well run the service is more courteous and deferential than what one gets in a restaurant, even if one is a regular customer ; the food is OK, but nothing special and the members like it that way. Like Trump and his taco bowl, they tend to order one or two things and will let their guests know that it is the best thing on the menu. These settings used to work well for business entertaining because the guest can't pick up the check. For someone who isn't going to have their business pick up the initiation fees, monthly dues and the monthly required expenditures for food and beverages, they make no sense.
  14. Seems like a good match between use and location. It's not an A plus location that merits a five star hotel or luxury condo building. I'd rather have the tax revenue flowing from a vacant site than having it sit there empty for decades, as many other parcels in this city do.
  15. I think it is still too soon to understand the impact of the pandemic on retail/consumer activity and foot traffic at retail locations. At super high priced luxury malls, smaller boutiques and stores not supported by global giants don't have the resources to stick it out and make mid-course changes. ROD doesn't draw on the presence of office workers to the extent that downtown locations do in America's cities. But what we see in places like NY and Chi is that without a steady influx of suburban office workers into downtowns on a five day a week basis , the retail and restaurants in the area aren't going to make their numbers to support their pre-pandemic rents.
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