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Aga Khan Foundation: Islamic Community Center, first in U.S

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The intersection near where the bridge will be built is surrounded by apartment complexes that have spurred new development, including a nearby Islamic community center funded by the Aga Khan Foundation that some civic leaders expect to be an architectural wonder.

I've seen this one mentioned a few times and the above is from the Houston Chronicle article . Does anyone have any further information or renderings on this one? Whatever the final design, I hope its woven into the urban fabric the area is deperately trying to create with the Fingers site, Regent Square, Archstone, new bridge, and the other proposals in close proximity to this location.

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The intersection near where the bridge will be built is surrounded by apartment complexes that have spurred new development, including a nearby Islamic community center funded by the Aga Khan Foundation that some civic leaders expect to be an architectural wonder.

I've seen this one mentioned a few times and the above is from the Houston Chronicle article . Does anyone have any further information or renderings on this one? Whatever the final design, I hope its woven into the urban fabric the area is deperately trying to create with the Fingers site, Regent Square, Archstone, new bridge, and the other proposals in close proximity to this location.

Agreed. I've looked for more information about this online and haven't been able to find anything. I am very interested to see what it will look like--though there's no telling when it will actually be built given the current economic climate.

As an aside, my first thought when hearing the name "Tolerance Bridge" was that the bridge's proximity to Houston's new Ismaili Center had to cross through the minds of those in charge of choosing the name. I would be surprised if they didn't at least consider the fact that the bridge will be right across the street from the future center of Houston's Islamic community.

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Given the demographic of the area, I would think most - if they knew - would not approve. I would venture that those who do know have their properties on the market.

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Is there a large Islamic community in this part of Houston? Just curious to why this location was chosen.

I found it very interesting that they picked a site right in the middle of what is destined to become yuppieville. That is a great location though...I was really rooting for a renovation and rehab of that old deco influenced warehouse before they leveled it.

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Is there a large Islamic community in this part of Houston? Just curious to why this location was chosen.

I'm not sure, but it is in the middle Gaytown. Isn't that punishable by death in Islam? It's queer that they picked this location.

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I'm not sure, but it is in the middle Gaytown. Isn't that punishable by death in Islam? It's queer that they picked this location.

Aga Khan are the good guys. Their mission is essentially to bring the rest of the Islamic world out of the 7th century. And this is the PERFECT neighborhood for them to be in!

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I'm not sure, but it is in the middle Gaytown. Isn't that punishable by death in Islam? It's queer that they picked this location.

Concur. I wonder how "tolerant" those "tolerant" Montrose, gaytown people will be when the call-to-prayer horn goes off 5 times a day, in their neighborhood. There is too much religious extremism in our city, as it is. All that is needed is something like this.

I'm guessing this will be built on the SE corner of Allen Pkwy/Montrose (next to the Bel Air complex)?

Yes. And everybody's rent in that complex will probably go down $300/month because of it.

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Is there a large Islamic community in this part of Houston? Just curious to why this location was chosen.

There's not a large mass-going community living in downtown, and they built a cathedral there.

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Concur. I wonder how "tolerant" those "tolerant" Montrose, gaytown people will be when the call-to-prayer horn goes off 5 times a day, in their neighborhood. There is too much religious extremism in our city, as it is. All that is needed is something like this.

Yes. And everybody's rent in that complex will probably go down $300/month because of it.

You really need to research this organization. They're as much against extremism as you are. Probably much, much more. And they've actually done things to undermine Islamic fundamentalism and promote religious tolerance and civil rights.

What have the gays actually gotten done lately to that effect? Eh!? Awareness? pfft! Maybe Aga Khan should build a sensitivity training camp for gays there.

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Maybe Aga Khan should build a sensitivity training camp for gays there.

:D

You're right about that Muslim organization. They have a good reputation.

Edited by tomv

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There is too much religious extremism in our city, as it is. All that is needed is something like this.

What is that supposed to mean? Are you trying to saying that all Muslims are extremists? Or are you just thinking it and trying not to say it?

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What is that supposed to mean? Are you trying to saying that all Muslims are extremists? Or are you just thinking it and trying not to say it?

There are extremist elements in all religions, is what I am trying to say. Muslims do a have slightly worse track record... in recent times. I'd find it equally offensive if a 150 foot crucifix were installed on that parcel of land as well.

Then there are those who say this particular vein of Islam is more peaceful, less fundamentalist, etc, etc. Same can be said with some Christian denominations. However, whether Christian and adhering to the Bible, or Muslim and adhering to the Quran... those books are clear in their warped (2000 year old+) view of the world... and no amount of cotton candy Christian worship services or "non-denominational" Islamic "community services" or modern day interpretations of those texts can change that. It is, what it is.

As such, I stay clear of all organized religions, sugar coating and all.

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As such, I stay clear of all organized religions, sugar coating and all.

Me too, but I'm not opposed to people building churches and mosques and such. It sounds like you think this is bad for Houston because it's Islamic.

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Me too, but I'm not opposed to people building churches and mosques and such. It sounds like you think this is bad for Houston because it's Islamic.

...not a fan of Islam, given recent history... or the communist Chinese... I don't have to like everybody in this world.

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...not a fan of Islam, given recent history... or the communist Chinese... I don't have to like everybody in this world.

So all Muslims are basically the same?

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So all Muslims are basically the same?

Not all of them. I know (of) some Muslims. I don't disagree with them... as a person. Just their religion. Hate the sin. Love the sinner. Where have I heard that before? ... Hmm... Unfortunately, there have been a few bad apples, in recent history. That have basically ruined it for everyone else. I'm sure in about 50 years... after such incidents of recent history no longer occur... no one would give any second thoughts to building such a community center, or call into question the "peacefulness" of such a religion.

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Not all of them. I know (of) some Muslims. I don't disagree with them... as a person. Just their religion. Hate the sin. Love the sinner. Where have I heard that before? ... Hmm... Unfortunately, there have been a few bad apples, in recent history. That have basically ruined it for everyone else. I'm sure in about 50 years... after such incidents of recent history no longer occur... no one would give any second thoughts to building such a community center, or call into question the "peacefulness" of such a religion.

But in the mean time, they're all extremists? Wow.

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I'm just skeptical of the "architectural wonder" statement... I won't hold my breath for a Muslim community center at Allen and Montrose that can be considered an architectural wonder, especially in Houston.

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I'm just skeptical of the "architectural wonder" statement... I won't hold my breath for a Muslim community center at Allen and Montrose that can be considered an architectural wonder, especially in Houston.

Given the degree of "architecture" in many of the protestant churches in the area, the bar is surely not set very high.

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But in the mean time, they're all extremists? Wow.

...not all... but I would suspect. One day you're eating lunch at a Cafe, you thought was safe, and then you're dead. Hard to live in that kind of world and not be on edge... Like I said, a few bad apples...

Given the degree of "architecture" in many of the protestant churches in the area, the bar is surely not set very high.

Like Grace Community Church, down here near Clear Lake on I-45...

Apalachicola_Shopping_-__The_Tin_Shed.jpg

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...not all... but I would suspect. One day you're eating lunch at a Cafe, you thought was safe, and then you're dead. Hard to live in that kind of world and not be on edge... Like I said, a few bad apples...

Again, what are you talking about?

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The topic here is the building. Discussion of religion really belongs in the religious section.

For which reason I will note from this "Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inauguration of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center" in Sugarland in 2002 only how much thought apparently went into that building's architecture. I never studied architecture but, if I had, the issues given consideration there/then seem like the kind of issues that would have been especially interesting to me. Based on what I've read regarding other building projects connected with the Aga Khan Foundation, I could see them seriously aiming for "architectural wonder" in this case, and putting some significant time, thought, and money into the project - and don't see the foundation not giving serious thought to the location in making its plans.

I really hope they do, as I was a little disappointed at how the Federal Reserve building (down the street, replacing Jefferson Davis Hospital #2) turned out. Not as bad as it could have been, but also not something I'd go out of my way to show people. If we're going to tear down cool historic buildings that have become local landmarks, let's at least put cool new landmarks in their place.

-----------------------

Update: Here is a more recent (2008) speech, at a dinner given by Governor Perry, that gives some insight into the relationship of the building planned in Houston to that in Sugarland. To sum it up, the new building will be much more important. Sounds like it will be the first and only Ismaili Center in the United States (it sounds like the majority of Ismailis in the U.S. live in Houston, or at least Texas). The other Islmaili Centers in the world are in London, Vancouver, Lisbon, Dubai, Dushanbe, and Toronto.

Regarding whether the architecture of the Houston center will take into consideration its location, see also this article about about the Aga Khan's winning the U.S. National Building Museum's Vicent Scully Prize (recognizing scholarship, criticism, or exemplary practice in historic preservation, planning, or urban design).

Edited by tmariar

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For which reason I will note from this "Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inauguration of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center" in Sugarland in 2002 only how much thought apparently went into that building's architecture.

Thanks for the link, tmariar. I thought that this section was especially revealing as to the true nature and motives of the organization. They're pluralists. I have a profound respect for this organization because their driving philosophy is essentially to live and let live, and to do so with respect between all individuals and peoples.

Certain reactionary extremist gays and populists may disagree, but to the extent that Montrose is a neighborhood that reflects secularism and diversity, this is the perfect neighborhood for the Aga Khan Foundation to locate in.

"Some years ago we gathered a group of eminent scholars of Islamic culture and distinguished architects and designers representing all major faiths, in a series of seminars to wrestle with the challenge of coming up with a definition of Islamic architecture. One of the first outcomes of the effort was the conclusion that no single definition exists because over its long and distinguished history, Islamic architecture has reflected different climates, times, materials, building technologies and political philosophies."

"But this is a very important finding in itself. It shows that trying to establish a norm would be counter productive, because it would stifle that strength which comes from the diversity and pluralism of Muslim societies, past and present, and the creativity of those who will build around us in the years ahead. Unfortunately there are forces at work in the Islamic world that seek to establish just such a norm. This makes it all the more important that we strive to counter such efforts by employing all the means of intellectual discourse -- research, discussion, celebration of innovative projects, and the commissioning of freshly conceived but well researched new buildings."

"The Center will be a place of peace, humility, reflection and prayer. It will be a place of search and enlightenment, not of anger and of obscurantism. It will be a center which will seek to bond men and women of this pluralist country to replace their fragility in their narrow spheres by the strength of civilised society bound together by a common destiny."

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Thanks for the link, tmariar. I thought that this section was especially revealing as to the true nature and motives of the organization. They're pluralists.

Like Unitarians, or like Baha'i, or something like that?

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Like Unitarians, or like Baha'i, or something like that?

My very superficial understanding is that the Aga Khan Foundation is a Nizari group, that Nizaris make up the majority of Ismailis, who in turn account for the majority of Shia Muslims. (So, not all Shia Muslims are Ismaili, and not all Ismailis are Nizari.) I'll leave the summarization of their religious beliefs to Wikipedia - which also has stuff to say about the title Aga Khan and about the current Aga Khan - but I think it would be stretching things to say Nizaris are to Islam what Unitarians are to Christianity.

Someone above mentioned the "call to prayer" - Nizari Jamatkhanas (their places of worship, like the building in Sugarland) don't have minarets or announce the call to prayer. I'm assuming that means that their Ismaili Centers would not, either.

With regard to Aga Khan IV and architecture, the last linked wiki notes:

"In 1977, the Aga Khan established the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, an award recognizing excellence in architecture that encompasses contemporary design and social, historical, and environmental considerations. It is the largest architectural award in the world and is granted triennially. The award grew out of the Aga Khan's desire to revitalize creativity in Islamic societies and acknowledge creative solutions to needs for buildings and public spaces. The recipient is selected by an independent master jury convened for each cycle. In 1979, [Harvard and MIT] both established the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA), which is supported by an endowment from the Aga Khan. These programs provide degree courses, public lectures, and conferences for the study of Islamic architecture and urbanism. Understanding contemporary conditions and developmental issues are key components of the academic program."

I had looked some of this up when I first heard about the Aga Khan Foundation and its plans for the Allen Pkwy property, but learned even more today. Interesting stuff.

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There are extremist elements in all religions, is what I am trying to say. Muslims do a have slightly worse track record... in recent times. I'd find it equally offensive if a 150 foot crucifix were installed on that parcel of land as well.

Then there are those who say this particular vein of Islam is more peaceful, less fundamentalist, etc, etc. Same can be said with some Christian denominations. However, whether Christian and adhering to the Bible, or Muslim and adhering to the Quran... those books are clear in their warped (2000 year old+) view of the world... and no amount of cotton candy Christian worship services or "non-denominational" Islamic "community services" or modern day interpretations of those texts can change that. It is, what it is.

As such, I stay clear of all organized religions, sugar coating and all.

Christian and adhering to the Bible... "Love your enemies." "If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek as well." "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."

Yes there are some pretty warlike quotes in the Old Testament, but what you get from Christ are quotes like these. And for most Christians, Christ trumps the Old Testament.

Edit: Sorry Subdude, didn't see your last post.

Edited by H-Town Man
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Am I the only one who sings this while reading this thread?

Chaka, chaka, chaka, chaka khan,

Chaka Khan, chaka khan, chaka khan,

Chaka Khan, let me rock you!

Let me rock you, Chaka Khan,

Let me rock you, that's all I wanna do,

Chaka Khan, let me rock you!

Let me rock you, Chaka Khan,

Let me rock you, let me feel for you,

Chaka Khan let me tell ya what I wanna do,

Do you feel for me the way I feel for you?

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Am I the only one who sings this while reading this thread?

Chaka, chaka, chaka, chaka khan,

Chaka Khan, chaka khan, chaka khan,

Chaka Khan, let me rock you!

Let me rock you, Chaka Khan,

Let me rock you, that's all I wanna do,

Chaka Khan, let me rock you!

Let me rock you, Chaka Khan,

Let me rock you, let me feel for you,

Chaka Khan let me tell ya what I wanna do,

Do you feel for me the way I feel for you?

Somebody's already at happy hour. :P

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Am I the only one who sings this while reading this thread?

Chaka, chaka, chaka, chaka khan,

Chaka Khan, chaka khan, chaka khan,

Chaka Khan, let me rock you!

Let me rock you, Chaka Khan,

Let me rock you, that's all I wanna do,

Chaka Khan, let me rock you!

Let me rock you, Chaka Khan,

Let me rock you, let me feel for you,

Chaka Khan let me tell ya what I wanna do,

Do you feel for me the way I feel for you?

actually, my first word association was louis kahn, architect, and after that praga kahn, electronic music artist.

i agree that this is the perfect part of town for this type of building and organization. can't wait to see a rendering.

edit: i found several images of '07 aga kahn award winners at this website

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Plans are still in the works to build a Muslim Ismaili center at the corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose, according to the group that bought the property in 2006 and tore down the art deco warehouse that had sat on it for decades.

The Aga Khan Foundation purchased the 11-acre property with plans to build a facility to house conferences and lectures relating to the Aga Khan Development Network as well as for recitals and exhibitions to educate the public about Islam's heritage.

The building was also expected to contain a prayer hall, classrooms and offices, the group said when it bought the property.

The design concept and timeline for development weren't known when the property was purchased, however, and they still aren't.

“At the moment, no concrete plans have been developed,” said Zahir Janmohamed, CEO of the Aga Khan Council for the USA.

For now, the site is being used as a construction staging area for work being done on a nearby bridge.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/sarnoff/6973867.html

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The massive lot located on Studemont between Allen Parkway and Dallas (as the title suggests) had fence posts going in this morning all around it. Any idea of what is going on here? Seems like a pretty money spot. Hopefully that picture comes up,

post-10635-0-87914500-1342714097_thumb.j

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It would great if they were going to do something there, but I feel as if there would have been an announcement. Maybe they just want their property to look like Regent Square. . . .

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Thanks for the post telling us you are not telling us anything.

I think what he's implying is that he wishes it would not be built - perhaps motivated by his particular brand of tribalism - and that he laments not being able to truly express how he feels because it would be deemed politically incorrect.

Am I right?

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I think what he's implying is that he wishes it would not be built - perhaps motivated by his particular brand of tribalism - and that he laments not being able to truly express how he feels because it would be deemed politically incorrect.

Am I right?

Pretty close.

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http://www.buffalobayou.org/documents/July2012FAQs-BuffaloBayouParkShepherdtoSabine.pdf

Will the planned Ismaili Center construction begin at the same time as Buffalo Bayou Park construction takes place?

We are hopeful that Houston is next on the list of construction for an Ismaili Center at Allen Parkway and Montrose by the Aga Khan Foundation; we have met with representatives from the Aga Kahn Foundation, however we do not have information about those plans at this time.

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