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Gensler's idea for retail under highways

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Architecture firm envisions retail under Houston highways

 

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An intangible hurdle that many developers say they have a hard time jumping is the psychological barrier created by Houston's highways.

An example of this is shown in the elevated U.S. Highway 59, which surrounds a portion of downtown, clearly dividing not only certain types of development but also differences in rental rates and land value.

To combat that barrier, San Francisco-based Gensler’s Houston office developed a concept to use the space underneath Houston highways to help spread development spillover into less developed areas.

“Freeways segregate the city,” said Ted Rubenstein, who led the Houston office's Town Square Initiative team. “The psychological and physical barrier is very difficult to cross. Our concept was to create the retail opportunity to help the transition across the impassible."

The concept was part of Gensler’s companywide Town Square Initiative, a pro bono program intended to rethink some of the world’s most stagnant or vacant spaces in large cities.

“Our directive was to research our city and come up with ideas of what a town square means in a contemporary context,” he said.

Other concepts the team developed for Houston included the creation of “pop-up town squares” that use modular objects to create a micro-mixed-use block on unused parking lots in downtown.

 

 

Swamplot and Houston Bizjournals also report of the Tunnel Loop Square which will allow easy access to the tunnels.

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/blog/breaking-ground/2013/11/architecture-firm-envisions-retail.html

 

http://swamplot.com/a-park-size-tunnel-entrance-concept-for-downtown/2013-11-12/

 

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BizJournals:

 

 

 

 

In addition, Gensler developed an idea to include a park entrance with 33,000 square feet of retail to Houston's tunnel system, called the Tunnel Loop Square. Estimated cost analysis of this concept would be close to $8 million but could stand to bring in about $1 million a year, according to Gensler data.

 

Swamplot:

 

 

 

HOW ABOUT A public park that also serves as a multi-storyentrance to Downtown’s extensive underground tunnel system? One that might even provide a little natural light or outdoor seating for below-the-deck diners? This pie-in-the-basement concept for the block-size surface parking lot between One and Two Shell Plaza made an appearance in the Chronicle‘s real estate blog last week — though the architecture firm Gensler had first posted it online this past spring. For the company’s own “Town Square Initiative,” designers were charged with envisioning a new type of town square for various cities around the globe. Tunnel Loop Square, for the block surrounded by Walker, McKinney, Louisiana, and Milam, was one of several proposals stemming from the firm’s Houston office.

 

Edited by TowerSpotter
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I think the best use for the underside of freeways is transit stations and parking.  Why malign a perfectly good city block with an ugly parking garage when you can build a couple levels here and there under a freeway and make the maximum use out of the space?

 

Again though, this falls back to the "Houston has plenty of space, so we won't see this really happen until a much higher density happens"

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Good to seem them thinking "outside the box" on these.  I like the Tunnel Loop Square idea, although wasn't that basically the idea for the tunnel connection at the foot of the Wells Fargo tower?

 

On the other hand, I'm not sure many retailers would want to be under the Pierce Elevated.

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I think arche and subdude both make good points (best use & retailers desires). But if they did decide to make it retail, it would be a great way to make the area safer and break the psychological barrier between mid and downtown.

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On the other hand, I'm not sure many retailers would want to be under the Pierce Elevated.

 

Some retail there would certainly be convenient for the homeless living under the bridge.  Or maybe the churches that roll in (or used to) from Katy to feed the homeless could set up a branch church in the space.  "Second Baptist Under The Bridge", anyone?

 

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I think anything under an elevated roadway would have to be temporary and very mobile (perhaps even on a daily basis). Food trucks come to mind. One never knows when an 18-wheeler full of whatever will jack-knife or overturn on an elevated. At the least that could be a huge mess - at worst a real disaster. Parking like that under the Pierce Elevated near St. Joseph's Hospital seems to be the best use for that space. Another might be equipment storage for the city or highway department.

Edited by Specwriter
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That's a great idea:  City vehicle/fleet parking and maintenance!  Why should the city have prime real estate (or even less than prime) when they could use land that is otherwise under used for fleet purposes.

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Ya know, its amazing to me that I've never been to Bubba's, because it is somewhat iconic.  How have they been able to last there, political connections?  And ... remember the place that used to be next door (go-karts?), right up against the interchange?

 

I also appreciate the "thinking outside the box".  However, it does strike me that we couldn't cram enough parking spaces under the Pierce Elevated to make much of a difference.  Plus, isn't there already some surface parking there?  Retail or food trucks would seem to provide more bang-for-the-buck.  

 

 

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Not exactly a new concept.  This is something similar in London!

 

http://goo.gl/maps/0sXwr

 

 

They are also already doing this in Istanbul

 

 

Kirksey also designed something like this for the City of Houston, 

 

Its in this video..

 

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