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523 Electra


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From Memorial Bend Architecture:

Architect:Unknown

Year Built: 1957

Original Owner: Ayers Anderson

Notable Past Residents: N/A

Publication: N/A

Comments: Possibly one of the later homes built on this end of Electra (or one of the first ones to be vacant in the late 1950s)

Architectural Comments: A simple, L-shaped home with a grid-like window adjacent to the entry.

http://memorialbendarchitecture.com/523ele.htm

and the permit:

Project No: 09020626

Date : 2009/04/09

USE : DEMO RES/SEWER DISC

Owner/Occupant : GRISBY BRIAN

Job Address : 523 ELECTRA DR 77024

Valuation : $ 0

Permit Type : SD

FCC Group : Demo; Single Familty Dwelling

Buyer : HOUSTON DEMOLITION

Address : P.O. BOX 1185 77588

Phone : (713) 643-6622

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I pass this neighborhood every single day, and I'll be damned if the whole thing isn't going to be unrecognizable from its old incarnation within the next five years. It seems like another Memorial Bend house goes down every week. :(

Its just going to be a bunch of empty lots, the stupid mcmansion builders just don't get it. I am sure they still think "Obviously someone would buy my mcmansion I just built around the corner" instead of the ones that are sitting there unsold for how many months?

A little off topic, but this is the same attitude that has destroyed communites and parts of cities all over. Look at that Las Vegas City Center fiasco, its going to go bankrupt very soon, MGM can't even sell parts of its casinos to try and keep paying the interest on the construction loan, it was to be a trophy of the new Las Vegas, it will be an unfinshed concrete eyesore of a trophy to greed and short sighted thinking for everyone to see for many years.

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This demolition is certainly not being done as quickly and quietly as possible -- yard is completely fenced off and a sizable piece of machinery is parked in the driveway in anticipation of the impending flattening. The structure itself looks to be in fair to poor shape -- not a justification of its razing, only an observation on its condition.

Curious of all is the graffiti-style message sprayed on an interior partition and visible from the street proclaiming: "Our first house". Word on the street is that this is a build to suit project. The current property owners will not only demolish this building but live in what will occupy the site. In case anyone is wondering, the new structure will be two stories of a style that remains unknown.

With any luck (slim chance) we'll not see a Tuscan-Franco stucco villa -- as are already present in this rapidly diminishing enclave of modernist architecture. Could the owners be visionaries and well versed in modernist tenets? Devoted followers of all things espoused upon in Dwell magazine? Sensitive to integration of new into existing?

Unlikely... but there's always a chance.

Edited by domus48
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I actually work with the guy who lived in this house for many years. we just finished moving everything out of there. i spent many afternoons in that house, its got its fair share of foundation issues if i remember correctly and really hasn't been maintained very well. If anyone has any questions about it id be happy to answer them

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I'm not as disappointed as many of you about the loss of the this house. Unlike most of the houses on the west side of Electra, this one does not back up to Rummel Creek or the bird santuary. 523 and its immediate neighbors back up to a large church and its parking lot (typical urban planning in Houston?). The two story replacement will do a better job of blocking the view of that church. We can also hope it will have a front porch for more interaction between the new occupants and their neighbors walking by.

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I should point out that I too do not feel this house is distinguished from the standpoint of architectural significance. However, I do feel that anyone building a home -- especially a build to suit home -- should consider the context and fabric of the neighborhood. I've stated in other threads that neighborhoods (regardless of their historic attributes) evolve and that such is inevitable. That said, it is of value for one to consider integrating into the context -- assuming of course such is of merit.

Memorial Bend architeture (30 years + old) is of merit.

Why build yet another faux-Tuscan villa/French ch

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"Lest we forget the eternal flame fixture that really only says: I'm all about wasting natural resources for the purpose of creating some sort of throw-back look (i.e. Victorian England)."

Oh ya, that's exactly it !

The more I look at the "architecture" of mass consumption and debt that was the bubble era, the more all of these houses look like they are built as a movie set. You know where it is really just a front facade and what is behind is just a generic stucco box.

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i like that statement "consider the context and fabric of the neighborhood" and i hope the new owners do that. all i know of the new house is that it will be a little over 3500 sqft - so likely two stories. i'd have thought the existing back yard was not a great enviroment given that looming church - and it won't be any better in the new house if it's traditionally centered on the depth of the lot. there's an opportunity here to direct the activities of the new house's occupants toward the streetscape. too many of the Bend's mods are windowless fortresses igoring the street in favor of a secluded patio - in lieu of the traditional front porch. maybe that's what was wanted 50 years ago, but it doesn't foster much of a sense of community - - ie neighbors greeting each other during walks and such. in the mod we sold, one could not even see out front from inside. we've one set of friends who have resorted to sitting out in front of the garage - surely this was not what mr floyd had in mind.

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The more I look at the "architecture" of mass consumption and debt that was the bubble era, the more all of these houses look like they are built as a movie set. You know where it is really just a front facade and what is behind is just a generic stucco box.

The facade analogy can also apply to the occupants of bubble-era architecture: flashy facade, but no cash or substance to back it up.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Framework for foundation in place... establishing an outline for the structure. Well folks, it's too early to tell what this home will look like but early impressions are (no spoiler alert necessary) a flickering lantern, amalgam home (FLAM). Ground floor appears to be approximately 2000 s.f. with a two car garage inclusive. Certainly two stories.

But there exists an odd angle or two in the foundation outline at the rear of the property... something compelling afoot? Or just the usual odd angle thrown-in for good measure?

This site is not about detailing the goings on of a construction project so I will not attempt to set a precedent. I was cautiously optimistic the design for this custom home would integrate into the context of the whole -- that of Memorial Bend. Call me naive but I like to believe... want to believe, that someone building a custom home would look to the left, look to the right (and down the street) and build a home that complements.

Now, I guess one could say: It depends on what you see around you -- one can dismiss original homes and consider only the new. Okay fine, but wouldn't it be something if an attempt was made to acknowledge the inherent modernism throughout Memorial Bend with a home design that embraced modernist tenets to some degree?

I know the answer to that question... but nonetheless I like to state it.

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Framework for foundation in place... establishing an outline for the structure. Well folks, it's too early to tell what this home will look like but early impressions are (no spoiler alert necessary) a flickering lantern, amalgam home (FLAM). Ground floor appears to be approximately 2000 s.f. with a two car garage inclusive. Certainly two stories.

But there exists an odd angle or two in the foundation outline at the rear of the property... something compelling afoot? Or just the usual odd angle thrown-in for good measure?

This site is not about detailing the goings on of a construction project so I will not attempt to set a precedent. I was cautiously optimistic the design for this custom home would integrate into the context of the whole -- that of Memorial Bend. Call me naive but I like to believe... want to believe, that someone building a custom home would look to the left, look to the right (and down the street) and build a home that complements.

Now, I guess one could say: It depends on what you see around you -- one can dismiss original homes and consider only the new. Okay fine, but wouldn't it be something if an attempt was made to acknowledge the inherent modernism throughout Memorial Bend with a home design that embraced modernist tenets to some degree?

I know the answer to that question... but nonetheless I like to state it.

What is frustrating is zero attempt to incorporate modernist elements into new homes. Honestly, given what I see in new modern construction in certain parts of town, I would welcome a modern home with open arms... yes, I could deal with the demolition of a Bend house if it were replaced with something other than the usual McMansion. Is that to much to ask?

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I recently drove around the Barton Heights area of Austin, a mid-century enclave that includes the A.D. Stengers and lots of other 50's-60's vintage mods and ranches. Most of the new construction there is of the modern variety. I didn't drive down every street but didn't see anything that looked McMansionist on my tour. Wish Houston was more progressive like that.

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I noticed a lot of the McMansions are starting to sell with the completion of CityCentre. Well, except those on the feeder roads.

Can't say that I've seen them sell in the Bend. Of all the houses listed for sale in Memorial Bend, none of the McMansions are listed as anything but "active" which means they're just sitting there. Of the 3-4 houses that are option pending or sale pending, none are McMansions.

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Can't say that I've seen them sell in the Bend. Of all the houses listed for sale in Memorial Bend, none of the McMansions are listed as anything but "active" which means they're just sitting there. Of the 3-4 houses that are option pending or sale pending, none are McMansions.

I'm not surprised about that. When will developers learn? :wacko:

Actually, I prefer the house next door. I almost thought that was the one you were talking about.

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the following link is to a house in meyerland by the metropolitan design group. http://www.mdgi.net/details.cfm?PROP_ID=83&port=yes

many of you will be encouraged to know that the house at 12727 memorial in memorial bend will be a mod - -a site adaptation of the meyerland house by the same architect - rather than something of a more traditional architectural style.

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"the following link is to a house in Meyerland by the Metropolitan Design Group... "

Not sure this post is clear as to its intent: Are you suggesting the home noted below will be by Metropolitan Design Group? The contemporary home featured when you open the site would certainly be more welcome than a flickering lantern home.

"Many of you will be encouraged to know that the house at 12727 memorial in memorial bend will be a mod - -a site adaptation of the Meyerland house by the same architect - rather than something of a more traditional architectural style."

Encouraging.

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"the following link is to a house in Meyerland by the Metropolitan Design Group... "

Not sure this post is clear as to its intent: Are you suggesting the home noted below will be by Metropolitan Design Group? The contemporary home featured when you open the site would certainly be more welcome than a flickering lantern home.

"Many of you will be encouraged to know that the house at 12727 memorial in memorial bend will be a mod - -a site adaptation of the Meyerland house by the same architect - rather than something of a more traditional architectural style."

Encouraging.

Hear hear... I agree. I welcome that style house and am glad to see that if a house is going to be torn down, it is replaced with something with more modern sensibilities. It will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood and I hope it sparks a trend that if houses are going to be torn down, they be replaced with modern designs.

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i like that statement "consider the context and fabric of the neighborhood" and i hope the new owners do that. all i know of the new house is that it will be a little over 3500 sqft - so likely two stories. i'd have thought the existing back yard was not a great enviroment given that looming church - and it won't be any better in the new house if it's traditionally centered on the depth of the lot. there's an opportunity here to direct the activities of the new house's occupants toward the streetscape. too many of the Bend's mods are windowless fortresses igoring the street in favor of a secluded patio - in lieu of the traditional front porch. maybe that's what was wanted 50 years ago, but it doesn't foster much of a sense of community - - ie neighbors greeting each other during walks and such. in the mod we sold, one could not even see out front from inside. we've one set of friends who have resorted to sitting out in front of the garage - surely this was not what mr floyd had in mind.

I agree, they are secluded. But I always thought the big idea with the mod designs of the late fifties thru 60's was to have the neighbors over for a barbeque, all the time, in the secluded backyard. :lol: ...Back patios were the norm. And designated play areas for the toddlers was a big idea, as well. (I have a few of those "Sunset" patio books). Think they were trying to come up with something completely different from the bungalows. And with most of the moms not working, they had more time to get to know each other.

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There are homes that integrate and become part of a whole; there are homes that while not necessarily integrating in terms of style are stand-outs and become part of a collective; then there are houses that have virtually no ties to style or form, possessing no conceptual platform other than a container for people with applied stylistic elements.

Guess which of the preceding types is currently under construction at 523 Electra.

This item would not be as significant a topic if this was a speculative project... but as it is a custom home for the property owners there ought to be something in place to assure a degree of sensitivity to the overall neighborhood context is upheld.

Call me a dreamer...

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i found that term 'possessing no conceptual platform other than a container for people with applied stylistic elements' interesting. For example (being the devils advocate), at a glance, I like the overall composition of 12807 Tosca and consider its unique presence in Memorial Bend a source of pride - - but still really question the selection of its butterfly roof. Was Mr. Floyd just bored that day

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About privacy and what Floyd intended... it was exactly what he had in mind.

See: http://memorialbendarchitecture.com/12923but_hcart.jpg

"Children have a realm to themselves and adults enjoy complete privacy in a new home designed by architect William Norman Floyd for Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Mullane at 12923 Butterfly in the Memorial Dr. area."

"The house is so placed on the 70 by 120 wooded lot that it achieves complete isolation from the street side."

Then there's this one on Hansel: http://memorialbendarchitecture.com/12923han_ambuild.jpg

"House with privacy from the street"

"More homes like this one gain privacy by being constructed with an interesting wall cutting off the street view. In the tradition of the French entry garden, this is, in part, a reaction against the front-facing picture windows of recent years"

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There is just something different about architects that had to use a pencil and slide rules instead of todays computers and CAD.

I blame the gradual shift away from Classical training in the curriculums of architecture schools. Many people forget that Modern Architecture adheres to Classical principals (proportions, scale, lighting, etc), despite its radically different appearance. As Modernism and PostModernism are embraced more and more, many concepts are no longer stressed as much as they probably should be. Furthermore, drawing by hand causes the one to think more about exactly what they are drawing. There is more attention to detail in hand drawing, as it takes much longer to correct something than just hitting Control + Z in CAD.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"I blame the gradual shift away from Classical training in the curriculum's of architecture schools."

"It is probably fair to say that Andrea Palladio, who died in 1580, is the patron saint of every McMansion that has ever cluttered the American landscape, because it is he who brought architectural aspiration to the houses of the moderately wealthy. Before Palladio, serious architecture was for churchs, public buildings, and the palaces for the richest nobles. Palladio studied the architecture of ancient Rome, codified its elements in a famous treatise, and started putting porticoes and pediments and domes on on the houses of the landed gentry, conferring on them a feeling of classical pedigree."

Excerpted from "All He Survived", by Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker , March 30, 2009

Dead-on statement regarding the "McMansion aesthetic" -- if one could be so bold as to pair aesthetic and McMansion (such are mutually exclusive). 523 Electra is fully realized as a McMansion.

Edited by domus48
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I believe much of the blame for the destruction of Memorial bend architecture is the Memorial Bend Architecture Committee. They should be the gatekeeper and protect the architecture. Instaed, they have given these builders a license to create whatever they want. Do not blame the builders.

There are homes that integrate and become part of a whole; there are homes that while not necessarily integrating in terms of style are stand-outs and become part of a collective; then there are houses that have virtually no ties to style or form, possessing no conceptual platform other than a container for people with applied stylistic elements.

Guess which of the preceding types is currently under construction at 523 Electra.

This item would not be as significant a topic if this was a speculative project... but as it is a custom home for the property owners there ought to be something in place to assure a degree of sensitivity to the overall neighborhood context is upheld.

Call me a dreamer...

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I believe much of the blame for the destruction of Memorial bend architecture is the Memorial Bend Architecture Committee. They should be the gatekeeper and protect the architecture. Instaed, they have given these builders a license to create whatever they want. Do not blame the builders.

The Architecture committee doesn't have that kind of power. They're obligated to enforce the deed restrictions, which aren't written that way.

If you want to blame something, it's the economics of the situation. Due to location and schools, Memorial Bend is a more desirable neighborhood now. And according to a realtor, mods typically sell for about 10% less than traditionals, because fewer people want mods. Also, flat roofs are a maintenance issue. There aren't a lot of roofers who do flat roofs.

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"And according to a Realtor, mods typically sell for about 10% less than traditionals, because fewer people want mods."

Hummm... perhaps Robert Searcy can pony up an reply on this one. My gut response is that many folk in the market are caught up in the concept of new is better and that a family of four require 300 s.f. or more. Plus it takes a very specific market segment who desire and possess the wherewithal to restore/renovate a property -- be it post-war modern or any other period for that matter.

"Also, flat roofs are a maintenance issue. There aren't a lot of roofers who do flat roofs."

Not this topic again. To issue a blanket statement that "flat roofs are a maintenance issue" is not correct as all roofs are a maintenance issue. A flat roof will likely reveal it's problem sooner than a conventional pitched roof. As to the roofer/flat roofs comment, there are plenty who will do the work and guarantee the work as well. But, in general you get what you pay for so the roof is not the place to low-ball. Also, the work has to be done correctly -- putting new roofing material on a poor condition substrate will not get you another 15 years of protection from the elements. But are folk willing to chance it rather than springing for another $3 -- $5000 to correct substrate, you bet.

Ergo, flat roofs are considered problematic.

But please, lets not shift from the original topic(s) to a roofing debate.

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I believe much of the blame for the destruction of Memorial bend architecture is the Memorial Bend Architecture Committee. They should be the gatekeeper and protect the architecture. Instaed, they have given these builders a license to create whatever they want. Do not blame the builders.

Our ACC is really getting rather strict in our little subdivision. This only happened after a massive remuddle took the board for a ride, with revamping,constant addtions, and inspection failures. The board of volunteers were just way too nice and the 1960's deed restrictions did not forsee people knocking down 5000 sf houses just to replace them with bigger ones. As a result, we have a 1960's Tudor changed into a Hill Country type house, with a roof that changes pitch and grade 5 or 6 times . It literally looks like a staircase in places. The two story, faux limestone Alamo garage, with no windows, is lovely too.

The three new builds going on right now are rather nice. The ACC buckled down to not allow a garages on the front. The first new build snuck it in so that the door was swung to the side, but side of the garage was still part of the facade. After seeing that the neighborhood was not happy with even that, now it must be behind the residence. THANK GOD! The lots in here are very generous, there is no reason to have a "car house" on the front.

I really perfer when people just gut the snot out of the old houses and leave the exteriors alone for the most part. The homes look like brand new construction on the inside, but they don't clash with the olders homes on the outside. Also, the new builds are just so massive in scale, they almost eat the lot they sit on, and not just the small lots either. Some neighborhoods have changed so much over the past 15 years that there are only one or two ranchs/colonials left on every street.

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That home is hideous and of course we have several of those now in Memorial Bend (I live on Figaro) but they are just a tad worse than some of the remodel jobs on the mid century modern homes. Classic architecture is not valued here in Houston for the most part. I do not think there are enough people in Houston that know much about architecture to preserve what valuable architecture we have remaining. It's just a mess.

Was in the area this evening (a little glary from the sun, but you get the idea):

4he4qc.jpg

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What's important to bear in mind on this addition to Memorial Bend is the fact that this home is "build to suit" -- the current owner of the property will be the occupant of the home. The original structure was no keeper with respect to being architecturally significant, however the owner opted to build a generic, box -- the kind of home one could find anywhere in the United States.

The central issue here is context. If the home erected had been "modern" in design -- there are abundant examples of two story modern homes -- at least the structure would communicate with its surroundings. As it is, we have yet another example of standard issue home design.

Is contextual design is not too much to ask for?

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the following link is to a house in meyerland by the metropolitan design group. http://www.mdgi.net/details.cfm?PROP_ID=83&port=yes

many of you will be encouraged to know that the house at 12727 memorial in memorial bend will be a mod - -a site adaptation of the meyerland house by the same architect - rather than something of a more traditional architectural style.

Wow this guy was right on, it IS a mod variation :wacko:

I think the answer about context of the house and neighborhood is, ME ME ME ME

Texasdago is correct, but I will go further, there are many new mcmansions in MB that are suitable for teardown lot only sales. Obviously no one is buying them. I have to laugh every time I drive by the Memorial and beltway feeder mcmansion, I hope they planned on owning that forever. :lol:

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