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Uptown Houston Becoming More Dense


texasboy

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I was in BCS today, at the A&M Fire Training Facility. It was my first time to BCS. Citykid, now all your posts make perfect sense to me. :)

:lol:

Anyway, I hope all of those strip centers go the way of the Pavilion.

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Density doesn't always = urban or pedestrian friendly. I think Post Oak needs to do for the Galleria what Main did for downtown. It has to inspire people to get out of their car and walk around. It certainly sounds like they're headed in the right direction.

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I was in BCS today, at the A&M Fire Training Facility. It was my first time to BCS. Citykid, now all your posts make perfect sense to me. :)

I had heard that the Hilton would be 8 stories. Any idea where I might have heard that? :huh:

What do you mean my post make sense now? Where did you go while you were here?

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Guest danax

Any additional 5 story or higher building is a good addition to the Uptown mini-skyline. It's architectural topography is starting to resemble a 1/4 scale downtown, with the huge, erection-like Williams tower making a statement of power, dominance, elegance, beauty and class; a perfect structure for that area. Johnson hit a home run with it.

It's such a great area. If we're going to be a light-rail city, it has to stop there. Is the Westpark line supposed to?

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Any additional 5 story or higher building is a good addition to the Uptown mini-skyline. It's architectural topography is starting to resemble a 1/4 scale downtown, with the huge, erection-like Williams tower making a statement of power, dominance, elegance, beauty and class; a perfect structure for that area. Johnson hit a home run with it.

It's such a great area. If we're going to be a light-rail city, it has to stop there. Is the Westpark line supposed to?

imagine if the oil boom would have kept going what uptown would have looked like. Any ways I agree any building of at least five stories will help the uptown skyline fill in the many gaps it has.

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We drove around town, and then went to the A&M Fire Training Facility. We ate lunch at Koppe Bridge Grill. It was good.

I have never eaten at Koppe before, there are two locations thought, you guys probably went to the newer one.

Did you like Bryan/College Station?

Was it bigger or smaller than you expected?

Did you get to see the A&M skyline and or major street Texas Avenue?

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Do you know what was around that area? (feed barn)??

You just thought it was small because I am sure you did not see anything.

A&M Campus

Post Oak Mall

the main street through both cities Texas Avenue

The many new upscale shopping places etc.

you can see some of it here:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread...25&pagenumber=1

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread...ght=bryan+texas

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That is a planned light rail corridor through uptown, but I don't see it coming into service for another 10 years or so. I think it'll definetly happen though.

I think the preliminary studies showed the alignment along North Post Oak then along the West Loop, and finally down Post Oak. It will have to cross US 59 to get to the East-West line that will be proposed along Westpark.

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The Hilton Garden hotel will be 8 stories. Also, by Sage and W Alabama there will be an 11 story hotel. I saw a post here or on the Houston BizJournal that gave the name of the hotel.

While 8 and 11 are not highrise, they definetly add to the infill of Uptown.

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True. Of course I don't what this urban feeling is that everyone talks about. An urban feeling to me would be that it is like urban but not really urban. It would be a fake.

I would rather say that uptown is getting a more dense feeling.

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Yes,

Its definitely a matter of opinion. My home town of about 20,000 people has a downtown with many shops, bars, restaurants in 100 year old buildings. Looks kind of like a mini french quarter. On the weekends at night the streets are packed with bar patrons from the university and locals. During Mardi Gras the streets look like bourbon street. There are apartments and offices above the retail and restaurants. It is quite urban. You can easily just park and spend the whole day walking. And all this exists with a Wal-Mart Supercenter in town too. So much for killing small business like everyone claims.

I believe urbanity is a perception or an opinion.

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Guest danax

We are just toying with density. Imagine cities like Tokyo, Sao Paolo, even New York, LA and SF. And imagine how dense we and rest of the major world cities will be in 50-100 years. As much as sprawl gets bad-mouthed here it ultimately will help us. We have high growth capacity which will keep housing prices in step with inflation perhaps for the long term and we have enough room to breathe. We are enjoying a trendy sort of density as it's just enough to give an urban feel in places but not yet enough to where people begin to want to escape it, but I don't see how eventually, we'll be able to avoid that.

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Good point Danax. We all talk about how good dense urbanity is but many of us don't know what reall density is.

Cities like New York, London and Paris are dense, but nothing like many Oriental cities. Tokyo and several Japanese cities are true density. Honk Kong, Bejing, and Shanghai are up there too.

San Paulo Brazil is an amazing collection of buildings too to show density.

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Guest Professional Hornblower
Uptown Houston rules, while downtown lacks. Uptown houston is the place to be and i would love to see some sort the same type of Main Street development occur in the post oak area.

LTWACS:

This is what part of downtown should look like.

Are you serious about the uptown/ Galleria area compared to downtown?

Any one with at least a month of Architectural Education knows that the Uptown Galleria is exactly 'What Not To Do' in urban terms. It is nothing more than a suburban style retail corridor designed for cars that happens to have office building and overpriced, overrated Condo Towers.

There is no sense of a neighborhood, no master plan, no mixed use buildings, no singular vision. They just happened to align them selves around a huge indoor mall that honestly choked the tradition of 'shopping downtown' These new Condo Towers are a joke- gated entry- totally isolated from the graeter community.

This scenario would never happen in downtow because the streets were designed for pedestrians first and plus downtown has much more culture than Uptown (theater, scholls, stadiums, restaurants, bars, etc.)

It's not about being dense- it's about being SMART.

Yes light rail will eventually come to uptown but hopefully AFTER they've established a connection from both airports to downtown.

Is Kjb434 the only one here who makes sense on this issue. You people need to do yourselves a favor and go read a book on urban planning. Believe me Uptown would make you want to throw up.

Ok, thats my diatribe. If you don't like it and want to defend Uptown, tough I call them like I see them. It would take a while for uptown to even match the potential downtown has. Hines never intended the Gallleria to be the hub for a pedestrian friendly area- he got what he wanted. Cars first- People second.

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In response to Citykids photo of the "Inner City": that is certainly a nice photo, but I fail to see the density - all I see are trees with office buildings that empty @ 5:00 everyday behind them.

But there certainly are a good number of high-rises, to bad there arent more buildings between 10-20 floors (as urban infill - for surface lots and those -------- dare I say it URBAN LOFTS!)

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HAHAHA --- I think I just saw an elevator core rising out of the landscape (in the middle-left of the picture), I wonder if its going to be another condo or office building????

OH wait - thats the Mercer!!!! Possibly the worst design in Houston - Hunter if any building colapses in the next hurricane - it had better be that one (just hope no one is in it).

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I agree, density does not equal urban. Strip centers, the lack of sidewalks, gated townhomes, and the lack of mixed-use buildings make Uptown a far cry from urban. Downtown IS urban and was designed for the pedestrian. It just needs more residential/retail but the design is there. Uptown, on the other hand has a LONG way to go. Unless it makes some major improvements to pedestrian infrastructure, downtown will always have it beat.

My solution for Uptown:

1. Create a pedestrian corridor along Post Oak (main street), Westheimer, and San Felipe.

2. Connect Highland Village with Uptown via pedestrian corridor.

3. Sidewalks should be 15'+.

4. Add trees and planters to add shade and separate street from sidewalk.

5. Add plazas and public gathering spots.

6. Require all new structures built on Post Oak, San Felipe, and Westheimer to be built to the street addressing pedestrian access.

7. Work with Simon to open the Galleria up to the street ala Woodlands Mall/lifestyle center (but much better).

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^They are doing this. take a look at the new 002 magazine, there is a map of what they plan to do to make uptown more urban.

As for pedestrian friendly corridor from uptown to Highland Village, thats a long way to walk. And there is a freeway running through there.

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LTWACS:

This is what part of downtown should look like.

Are you serious about the uptown/ Galleria area compared to downtown?

Any one with at least a month of Architectural Education knows that the Uptown Galleria is exactly 'What Not To Do' in urban terms. It is nothing more than a suburban style retail corridor designed for cars that happens to have office building and overpriced, overrated Condo Towers.

There is no sense of a neighborhood, no master plan, no mixed use buildings, no singular vision. They just happened to align them selves around a huge indoor mall that honestly choked the tradition of 'shopping downtown' These new Condo Towers are a joke- gated entry- totally isolated from the graeter community.

This scenario would never happen in downtow because the streets were designed for pedestrians first and plus downtown has much more culture than Uptown (theater, scholls, stadiums, restaurants, bars, etc.)

It's not about being dense- it's about being SMART.

Yes light rail will eventually come to uptown but hopefully AFTER they've established a connection from both airports to downtown.

Is Kjb434 the only one here who makes sense on this issue. You people need to do yourselves a favor and go read a book on urban planning. Believe me Uptown would make you want to throw up.

Ok, thats my diatribe. If you don't like it and want to defend Uptown, tough I call them like I see them. It would take a while for uptown to even match the potential downtown has. Hines never intended the Gallleria to be the hub for a pedestrian friendly area- he got what he wanted. Cars first- People second.

First of all, i wasn't just spaeking of downtown vs uptown in terms of ped friendly areas, i was talking about the overall vibrancy of uptown as a whole for its high end shopping, malls, and tourism(despite lack of pedestrian friendly areas). It has cleaner atmosphere, better architecture (minus Mercer Tower).

If you paid more attention to my post rather than criticizing, you would've seen that i said that all uptown needs is the same type of Main Street/Lt rail developement on Post Oak.

Second of all, i don't give a sh$t what anyone says, to me, uptown feels way more vibrant than downtown in terms of activity. Regardless of car use, it still shows that people are in and out of uptown all the time. Even known pedestrian areas like Manhattan NY have their share of cars pacing along the road.

On the other hand, the diversity statement about downtown you made might be true, but give it another 5-10 years after they finish regentrification of the areas around it such as Third Ward, Midtown/Musuem Dist. I betcha most of any people of color will be somewhat forced out.

And 3rd of all, just because i have a perception on downtown vs uptown doesn't make me any less sensible than the next guy. Maybe YOU should grab a book and STEP off my case!

Anyways! Uptown still rules!

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We are just toying with density. Imagine cities like Tokyo, Sao Paolo, even New York, LA and SF. And imagine how dense we and rest of the major world cities will be in 50-100 years. As much as sprawl gets bad-mouthed here it ultimately will help us. We have high growth capacity which will keep housing prices in step with inflation perhaps for the long term and we have enough room to breathe. We are enjoying a trendy sort of density as it's just enough to give an urban feel in places but not yet enough to where people begin to want to escape it, but I don't see how eventually, we'll be able to avoid that.

Yeah, I must admit, I do agree.

I don't mind Houston's sprawl- Honestly, I want the coveted NUMBER 3 in population. We have been at #4 for twenty some odd years. I really want that #3. But it seems that NY LA and Chicago are undergoing a rebirth of urban living, just as Houston is.

I guess my only concern is this- I don't care if Houston in 50 years is defined by borders from 3 feet away from Galveston, San Antonio, Huntsville and the Louisiana border- I just want adequate transportation to get from point A ( beyond the Woodlands) to point B (beyond Clear Lake). Get what I mean? Other denser cities get so much "growth" because of their awesome transportation systems.

m.

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Guest Mr. X

"Believe me Uptown would make you want to throw up."

Whoever wrote that could use another month or two of urban planning class.

Uptown does not make most normal people want to throw up. In fact, I bet most people are more impressed with overall look, and atmosphere of uptown than any other part of Houston. Those urban planning books you talk about don't apply in Houston. Blame it on the nasty climate. No normal person walks in Houston if they have a choice. There is a big difference between what works in theory and what works in reality. Uptown is obviously working.

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LTWACS:

This is what part of downtown should look like.

Are you serious about the uptown/ Galleria area compared to downtown?

Any one with at least a month of Architectural Education knows that the Uptown Galleria is exactly 'What Not To Do' in urban terms. It is nothing more than a suburban style retail corridor designed for cars that happens to have office building and overpriced, overrated Condo Towers.

There is no sense of a neighborhood, no master plan, no mixed use buildings, no singular vision. They just happened to align them selves around a huge indoor mall that honestly choked the tradition of 'shopping downtown' These new Condo Towers are a joke- gated entry- totally isolated from the graeter community.

This scenario would never happen in downtow because the streets were designed for pedestrians first and plus downtown has much more culture than Uptown (theater, scholls, stadiums, restaurants, bars, etc.)

It's not about being dense- it's about being SMART.

Yes light rail will eventually come to uptown but hopefully AFTER they've established a connection from both airports to downtown.

Is Kjb434 the only one here who makes sense on this issue. You people need to do yourselves a favor and go read a book on urban planning. Believe me Uptown would make you want to throw up.

Ok, thats my diatribe. If you don't like it and want to defend Uptown, tough I call them like I see them. It would take a while for uptown to even match the potential downtown has. Hines never intended the Gallleria to be the hub for a pedestrian friendly area- he got what he wanted. Cars first- People second.

i have found that a small percentage of houston forumers here know about true urbanism and have fell into the patterns on how most of this city is built, and then they get mad once you are offended by the suburban patterns that happen around the city. the sentences in bold are what i agree with 100%. great post. i thought i was the only one who had this mindset on uptown.

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wow. i agree completely. and it is not just this forum where houstonians do not know about true urbanity and have such a conservative mindset on how houston is developed. along with Professional Hornblower, i also agree with Sunstar.

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Guest Mr. X

I'm so glad that no one with any real power or money pays any attention to you internet urban experts.

Uptown Houston is fine. You might get a pedestrian friendly spot here or there in Houston, but that city was built for wheels, not legs. The sooner you accept it, the better your life will be. You'll be spending less time bi+ching about things you can't possibly change.

If you want to really learn about true urbanism come up here to San Francisco and live for awhile. I've been here for 8 years and I can testify that urban living is highly over-rated. Nobody ever wants to talk about the bad things about urbanism. They just ignor the odor and step around the people sleeping on the sidewalks, pretending that everything is so wonderful. But I know now that life is easier in the burbs. It's not as exciting but, suburbanites have less stress, less noise, and more money in the bank. The only real asset about urban life is being able to walk home when the bars close (if you make it home).

I hope uptown Houston continues to develop the way it has been. It seems to have the best elements of both urban and suburban living, an impressive collection of buildings and ample parking. To hell with walking in Houston - it's too frickin' hot! The idea that uptown will ever or should ever cater more to the comfort of pedestrians than to the convienience of drivers is completely ridiculous.

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If you want to really learn about true urbanism come up here to San Francisco and live for awhile. I've been here for 8 years and I can testify that urban living is highly over-rated.

Ha. Funny you make that statement. I lived in SF summer of 2003, and I loved the urban lifestyle. It's healthier and it is a whole lot more enjoyable than sitting in the horrible traffic in the Bay area. The urban lifestyle is beautiful and only can be found in America's premiere cities and it is hard not to appreciate it, but I guess I'm the closeted bunch around here.

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(danax @ Thursday, April 28th, 2005 @ 8:09pm)

As much as sprawl gets bad-mouthed here it ultimately will help us. We have high growth capacity which will keep housing prices in step with inflation perhaps for the long term and we have enough room to breathe. We are enjoying a trendy sort of density as it's just enough to give an urban feel in places but not yet enough to where people begin to want to escape it, but I don't see how eventually, we'll be able to avoid that.

The future ambiance of Houston's high population density urban environments (and other young big cities) will develop with the luxury of convenience mandated by consumers. This is the single most significant opportunity for quality of life upgrades. As danax has pointed out, the trendy sort of density packing Uptown Houston is the developmental beginnings which will combine the best suburban conveniences with invigorating energy of downtown variety. The public is finally making it clear that a giant suburban metropolitian city is unacceptible, and pockets super high population density will result. In the past, as with NYC, Boston, Philly, the population density was a necessity; now the population density is meeting demand.
If you want to really learn about true urbanism come up here to San Francisco and live for awhile. I've been here for 8 years and I can testify that urban living is highly over-rated.

Within another generation, the sunbelt cities add another variation to the definition of "true urbanism." If we're lucky, many of the negative aspects of urban living will be managed out.

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I'm so glad that no one with any real power or money pays any attention to you internet urban experts.

Uptown Houston is fine. You might get a pedestrian friendly spot here or there in Houston, but that city was built for wheels, not legs. The sooner you accept it, the better your life will be. You'll be spending less time bi+ching about things you can't possibly change.

If you want to really learn about true urbanism come up here to San Francisco and live for awhile. I've been here for 8 years and I can testify that urban living is highly over-rated. Nobody ever wants to talk about the bad things about urbanism. They just ignor the odor and step around the people sleeping on the sidewalks, pretending that everything is so wonderful. But I know now that life is easier in the burbs. It's not as exciting but, suburbanites have less stress, less noise, and more money in the bank. The only real asset about urban life is being able to walk home when the bars close (if you make it home).

I hope uptown Houston continues to develop the way it has been. It seems to have the best elements of both urban and suburban living, an impressive collection of buildings and ample parking. To hell with walking in Houston - it's too frickin' hot! The idea that uptown will ever or should ever cater more to the comfort of pedestrians than to the convienience of drivers is completely ridiculous.

I wasn't saying all that. I just said that uptown Houston is more active than downtown is right now. I hope downtown and uptown Houston both move away from the car-oriented develpoments in the future which bring on sprawl. Downtown Houston is a little sprawly in itself and i think that's why it lacks density, although it's improving. Plus urbanism will give Houston more of a feel and identity rather than it just being remembered as the city where you spend over 50% of the time on the road to get from point A to point B. Plus it will improve air-quality.

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The deep civic desire started during the 80s to connect Houston's big highrise clusters will get a huge boost from light rail connections between downtown and uptown. The visual appeal of Houston's skyline will only get better as Metro Stations support transportation alternatives for concentrated residential inventories, that is, more highrise apartments and condos. The evolution of new urbanism's mixed use focus will create a linear urban environment backbone in Houston.

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Some of you guys love to talk down on your city, but the fact is many people love Houston. I know some Bostonians who are dying to move to Houston, and they will once they sale their home. All of my family that live in other states or somewhere else in Texas, always talk about moving to Houston.

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Wow, what an animated debate, as a person with an Architecture degree and a native Houstonian I'd thought I'd chime in on some of the member's statements.

First, Professional Hornblower- I do agree with you even if the Galleria/Uptown area is a highly popular area- probably the place where tourists frequent the most. Unfortuanetly this is not a compliment to the Galleria area but a knock on the 'there's nothing to do in Houston' mentality. Largely because we are a city that lacks 'charm' a 'sense of place' any defineable criteria. So I guess the hughe mall will have to do. It's not as reveered as 'the Miracle Mile, 'Rodeo Drive' or 'Fifth Avenue'

true, we have made great strides as a city but we have a small margin for failure. We are not a city with natural landscapes- no mountains, no hills, we are not a water city- This is precisely why we have to be that much smarter in our design (how buildings relate to each other and the neighboorhood, use of vegetaion to our advantage, heat island considerations, transportation/pedestrian connections, etc., etc.) This city has a long history of ignoring almost all of these criteria all of the time.

I do agree with PH that the developers are having a field day with Uptown with these condo towers. My confusion id that the city is practically begging for this type of development downtown and along Main but the developers are interested in the quick buck at the least headache. The same building along Main probably would not be gated, nor would it be solely a condo tower it would probably be mixed use and probably would be a member of the neighborhood, not an island. Plus they are getting awfully close to Memorial Park.

largeTexas- I agree with you, construction activity does not equal good design nor success- Only time can tell. Downtown was from the beginning the 'cultural heart' of the city. It used to be a charming neighborhood with 'church steeples, NOTSUOH festival, shopping, cultural gathering, etc. The uptown was still rice fields

tierwestahi was talking about the overall vibrancy of uptown as a whole for its high end shopping, malls, and tourism(despite lack of pedestrian friendly areas). It has cleaner atmosphere, better architecture (minus Mercer Tower).

I don't agree with this statement. Better Architecture? yes Williams tower is nice but can it stand up alone to decades of styles downtown? From the Esperson, Gulf Building to Pennzoil (NY Times Bldg of the Year), Nations Bank, etc., etc. The shame in most of these buildings is that the new towers cut themselves off from the street- community cemters, restaurants, diners, shops, were replaced with great buildings with restricted use office lobbys- This type of design in the 70's did a lot to kill downtown. Hopefully this time around we can get it right.

And the vibrancy- 60,000 people were downtown to watch the Astros, and Rockets Saturday, 150,000 (est.) come every day for work, and countless others come on weekend nights. We are missing housing and something to create a sense of community downtown, Hopefully the new Downtown Park will help with this (I posted info in this section) as well as the Pavilions, and the other speculative projects.

And for those of you that blame the climate, Mr. X,- that is one of the two answers for bad design/ urban planning. 'Too hot and No Parking' Both can be alleviated by Smart Design- Trees can act as shade, material with low albedo factor can be used, public transportation can be integrated, canopies, etc.. It's hot in Rome, Barcelona, Las Vegas, etc. but people come.

Our best bet as Houstonians, is to take the Renaissance approach where they gradually went in and added charm to pockets of the city- Those dehumanized by the Medeival period. Read up on Paris, they practically started from scratch in the 1800's. I think you get the equivalient to what I'm saying but it is going to be tough in a city where the city government is unable to enforce any plan, the developers can do whatever they like, and Matress Mac is at sainthood status to most Houstonians.

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Guest Professional Hornblower

Shasta, thanks for the shout-out. Good to get an opinion of someone who actually took more than 3 credit hours of architecture courses.

To me, it seems like people are confusing "walking indoors" with urbanism.

Uptown is a gigantic mall, surrounded by 6-lane roads. How is this "urbanism"?

I'd like to extend a challenge and ask how many people on here have eaten at California Pizza Kitchen, then walked to the Galleria, successfully crossing the death-certainty that is Westheimer. Seriously. I wanna know.

Walking around inside the Galleria is a far cry from a "community". It's not lively at all. It's borderline morbid, in all honesty.

If one stand-alone mall is considered "urbanism", then does that mean that Baybrook mall, Mall of the Mainland, Sharpstown Mall, etc., are all "urban designs"?

Is it just me, or does anyone else find "Uptown" banal?

PS: There are ways to subdue the effects of heat. Simply saying "Houston is too hot", is a huge cop-out from someone who has no ambition for anything great or interesting. Sorry, JMHO.

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