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Plenty of buildings get saved and reused that are not protected landmarks in cities like Dallas, etc.  Some get torn down in those cities as well, but I don't think they're quite as wasteful and unresourceful as Houston is.

 

 

As an example, the Meadows Building in Dallas, which I would say is less attractive than 3400 Montrose was, has been cared for over the years and become something of a cult classic among residents. It's an acquired taste, even for me, but the point of buildings like this is that they can add charm and variety (as well as a sense of history) to the landscape without being an architectural masterpiece.

 

Meadows_003.jpg

 

Riiiiggghhhtttt...     Two office buildings to be demolished to make way for Sam's Warehouse Club near  downtown Dallas.

 

;-)

Edited by Houston19514
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IMHO, when the HISD administration building was built at that site, it was considered by some to be a building of some note.  I guess the Brutalist style was still quite in vogue at that time.  I seem to recall there were problems with roof leaks and the cost of air-conditioning so much vacant space in the interior atrium, though.

 

As I recall, when HISD sold the property (and the adjacent school), the Chron reported that there were assurances by the purchaser (Trammell Crow's outfit) that they would replace the building with something that would not be a step down in quality.  Personally, I think that if so, TC reneged on the deal.

 

For the trivia buffs:  the HISD administration building was used in the movie "The Thief Who Came to Dinner" as the supposed "Houston Museum of Science & Industry" or some such thing. 

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IMHO, when the HISD administration building was built at that site, it was considered by some to be a building of some note.  I guess the Brutalist style was still quite in vogue at that time.  I seem to recall there were problems with roof leaks and the cost of air-conditioning so much vacant space in the interior atrium, though.

 

As I recall, when HISD sold the property (and the adjacent school), the Chron reported that there were assurances by the purchaser (Trammell Crow's outfit) that they would replace the building with something that would not be a step down in quality.  Personally, I think that if so, TC reneged on the deal.

 

For the trivia buffs:  the HISD administration building was used in the movie "The Thief Who Came to Dinner" as the supposed "Houston Museum of Science & Industry" or some such thing. 

 

Not sure I buy that story about Trammel Crow promising making such a promise.  And (a) even it was in the Chronicle, that doesn't necessarily make it so, and ( B) some would consider the Costco and associated development to not  be a step down in quality from the former structure.  ;-)

 

I do recall that they had announced plans for a more urban-ish mixed use development but changed the plans when Costco basically made them an offer they couldn't refuse.  As we all know plan announcements are not promises.

 

Rather ironic that the Dallas Sam's development is also a Trammel Crow development.

 

FWIW, here's a pic of the former HISD building:

 

hisd-richmond.jpg

 

Edited by Houston19514
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Oh, I admit I don't know of any hard evidence that Trammell Crow's company made such a commitment and reneged.  My reason for mentioning that is that a lot of people (here and elsewhere) got their hopes up that we'd have another BLVD Place type development and were disappointed that we didn't get it in that location.

 

My guess is (and I admit I don't know) that when Costco made them an offer, the market here was already going south.  I can't blame people for not being willing to lose money just to please "new urbanists".

 

And also ... the Costco does serve a useful purpose, as demonstrated by the volume of people who shop there.   I'm just one of those people who would like to see redevelopment inside the loop move away from being a reiteration of developments that make sense in far-flung suburbs.  I think that if Houston is to succeed in competing with other cities, that goal would be better served by having developments that are attractive to a younger demographic that is drawn to walkable amenities.

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If there are any architects here (or other people who know more than I do about it), can anyone point out other examples of Brutalist architecture in Houston?  I can think of the City Hall Annex and at least one building on the UH Central Campus.  From a survey-of-architecture class I took years ago, I think of the Boston City Hall as a prime example.  The instructor referred to it as "teeth-baring architecture", which I see in the Annex (which looks to me like a cheapo rip-off of the Boston City Hall).  

 

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Not sure I buy that story about Trammel Crow promising making such a promise.  And (a) even it was in the Chronicle, that doesn't necessarily make it so, and ( B) some would consider the Costco and associated development to not  be a step down in quality from the former structure.  ;-)

 

I do recall that they had announced plans for a more urban-ish mixed use development but changed the plans when Costco basically made them an offer they couldn't refuse.  As we all know plan announcements are not promises.

 

Rather ironic that the Dallas Sam's development is also a Trammel Crow development.

 

FWIW, here's a pic of the former HISD building:

 

hisd-richmond.jpg

 

The interior of the HISD Administration Building was an incredible space.  Unfortunately the light-filled openness was inefficient for modern-day cubicle farms, which contributed to the decision to demolish it. 

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If there are any architects here (or other people who know more than I do about it), can anyone point out other examples of Brutalist architecture in Houston?  I can think of the City Hall Annex and at least one building on the UH Central Campus.  From a survey-of-architecture class I took years ago, I think of the Boston City Hall as a prime example.  The instructor referred to it as "teeth-baring architecture", which I see in the Annex (which looks to me like a cheapo rip-off of the Boston City Hall).  

 

There is plenty of beige brick brutalism in the area's 1970's era suburban high schools, although none of it very dramatic due to the cost-effective designs.

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The Family Law Center and the Harris County Administration building (the latter of which has its concrete cladding spalling like crazy).

 

 

The Family Law Center is hideous. Despite construction of the new civil courthouse, foreclosure notices are still posted at the Family Law Center to help spruce the place up.

 

Gotta disagree with both of you. The Family Law Center looks to me more like straight up modernism than brutalism. And imho, it's not hideous.

 

72098696.jpg

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Gotta disagree with both of you. The Family Law Center looks to me more like straight up modernism than brutalism. And imho, it's not hideous.

 

72098696.jpg

 

I would peg it as transitional between "traditional" high modern and Brutalism.  The vertical pilasters terminating before the ground level and the glassed-in ground floor are typical modernist elements, but the overall concrete execution seems Brutalist.  Does anyone know when it was built?

 

One thing I really like that one sees in a number of buildings in Houston at the time is the recessed windows to allow interior shading.  A brise-soleil, if we want to get all fancy.

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IMHO, the reason the Family Law Center is currently hideous is just because it's roughly 40 years old - an age at which pretty much everything is at the low point for being out of style.  Other than the inadequate elevators, the building functioned pretty well until they started cramming additional rooms into the hallways to support the growth of the courts.

 

There's been some discussion about tearing it and the adjacent former DA building down for a new, larger building.  Offhand, I think it would make more sense to take out the building that has structural issues that require it to be surrounded with decked scaffolds (admin), move those functions into the similarly sized FLC (and the DA building if need be - I don't know what, if anything, is in there now), and build a new FLC on the site of the admin building. 

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Wow, missed this one the other day. Well Houston 19514, you're going to have to tell me what your point is. My original post said "plenty of buildings get saved... of course, some get torn down as well." You gave me an example of two buildings getting torn down. Both fairly ugly, lacking either the age or charm of the Meadows building or our lost building in Montrose.

 

(crickets)

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The Alley. 

and the Alley is the Brutal-est! :)  I also agree with H-town about the Family Law Center: more modern than brutalist; almost deconstructionist. It looks like something the Soviets or fascist in Italy would have built in the 1930's. Yeah, I'm an Architect.

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and the Alley is the Brutal-est! :)  I also agree with H-town about the Family Law Center: more modern than brutalist; almost deconstructionist. It looks like something the Soviets or fascist in Italy would have built in the 1930's. Yeah, I'm an Architect.

 

I don't know if the soviets and fascists were quite that modern yet in the 1930's. It seems like a good 50's SOM design to me.

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They built a Costco at the corner of Richmond and Weslayan, the former site of the HISD administration building. 

 

I hated to see that happen. The interior of the HISD bldg. was spectacular. I remember the new building's vast, open space. It was beautiful. The floors outlined the perimeter, and looked down on the center. I vaguely remember red carpet in the upstairs hallways. Small, open refreshment areas were white stone.  These cubes were positioned at corners between the floors and center. They contained lunch tables and vending machines. Their open stairwells lead away from the floors and towards the bldg.'s. atrium center. It was a very modern design, for it's day. Light and cool, yet massive (like a castle) is how I remember the interior. Such contrast, it left an impression. I'm glad Sevfiv got photos before demolition.

 

I've never been inside the Post Bldg. At least it's still standing, for now.

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 Does anyone know when it was built?

 

 

 

Harris County Family Law Center

1969 / Wilson, Morris, Crane & Anderson

 

- the same year they built the Houston Post

Edited by NenaE
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and the Alley is the Brutal-est! :)  I also agree with H-town about the Family Law Center: more modern than brutalist; almost deconstructionist. It looks like something the Soviets or fascist in Italy would have built in the 1930's. Yeah, I'm an Architect.

 

Oh, yes, how could I forget the Alley!   It seems different from other Brutalist buildings I'm aware of:  the castle motif seems almost whimsical.  But ... with so much windowless concrete, the whimsy also comes off as kinda grim.  

 

I actually kinda like the FLC, at least in comparison to most of the more recent stuff around it. 

 

It's been almost 20 years since I've seen it, but there's a somewhat monumental building in southern Rome, in the vicinity of Via Laurentina, which struck me as rather modern -- but I was told it was built during Mussolini's reign.  I can't quite picture it, but I think it is several stories tall, round, windowless, but covered with arched indentations.  

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Well after spending so much time at the Langford Hotel in College Station :P, I actually came to appreciate this kind of architecture. Brutalism is so misunderstood. It's letting the material's represent everything about the building from it's overall form, function, and even aesthetic. Another good one is the Houston Chronicle building at 610 and 59. It's literally a castle stripped to bare bones and placed on an plinth almost as if the architect wanted to place his architecture on its very own plane different from the rest of its environment. The same can be said for Alley Theater only with this one is almost as if it started out as one sold piece of stone and was somehow sculpted.

 

Of course there are the bad ones too. I mean they tore down the awesome HISD building, but kept the monstrous AT&T building still standing? It's as if the city was trolling everyone and now its like the building just sits there almost defiant to change with the evolving nature of the urban environment around it.

 

Anyway, its a very underappreciated movement because its a work of inner beauty. I hope some these continue to stay around for awhile.

Edited by Luminare
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Well after spending so much time at the Langford Hotel in College Station :P, I actually came to appreciate this kind of architecture. Brutalism is so misunderstood. It's letting the material's represent everything about the building from it's overall form, function, and even aesthetic. Another good one is the Houston Chronicle building at 610 and 59. It's literally a castle stripped to bare bones and placed on an plinth almost as if the architect wanted to place his architecture on its very own plane different from the rest of its environment. The same can be said for Alley Theater only with this one is almost as if it started out as one sold piece of stone and was somehow sculpted.

Of course there are the bad ones too. I mean they tore down the awesome HISD building, but kept the monstrous AT&T building still standing? It's as if the city was trolling everyone and now its like the building just sits there almost defiant to change with the evolving nature of the urban environment around it.

Anyway, its a very underappreciated movement because its a work of inner beauty. I hope some these continue to stay around for awhile.

Okay, but not all of what makes brutalism brutal is functional, right? The extravagant fins on the HISD building, the massive curves on the Alley - functional?

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Oh, yes, how could I forget the Alley!   It seems different from other Brutalist buildings I'm aware of:  the castle motif seems almost whimsical.  But ... with so much windowless concrete, the whimsy also comes off as kinda grim.  

 

I actually kinda like the FLC, at least in comparison to most of the more recent stuff around it. 

 

It's been almost 20 years since I've seen it, but there's a somewhat monumental building in southern Rome, in the vicinity of Via Laurentina, which struck me as rather modern -- but I was told it was built during Mussolini's reign.  I can't quite picture it, but I think it is several stories tall, round, windowless, but covered with arched indentations.  

 

That is the EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma) which was meant to be the site of a world's fair.  The buildings are often held out as examples of fascist architecture, but I'm not really sure there was such a thing.  If anything they seem to be fairly representative of early post-war modernism.  

20110307_Roma_Palazzo_della_Civilt%C3%A0

 

 

 

0034471_00_small.jpg

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Okay, but not all of what makes brutalism brutal is functional, right? The extravagant fins on the HISD building, the massive curves on the Alley - functional?

 

The fins are actually there for solar shading so it is an expressed function of the building. And I never said that brutalism is all about function. If you read what I said is that the buildings are a true visual representation of materials, function, and aesthetic. It means Brutalism is very honest structurally and architecturally which is whats charming about it. The curves on the Alley Theater is an exterior expression of the function of the building. It's a text book case of the interior influencing the exterior.

 

I believe we are also thinking of two different definitions of "function". One is that are the curves really needed to make the building function? Probably not. Although if I remember correctly the curves for the towers are so because its the vertical circulation of the building. The other term for function is the the sort of designation of the building. The building "function" for alley theater is an assembly hall/ theater hall which means you want an architecture which expresses sentiments about what a theater is. Meaning that the curves are necessary to express the overall function of the building. 

 

Long horizontal lines and large massings= more institutional = good fit for HISD

 

Expressive, sculptural, and curvilinear forms = more theatrical = good fit for Alley Theater

 

Both examples show that having a building that is structurally and materially honest can properly express the function of the building without having to resort to excess ornament.

Edited by Luminare
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I believe we are also thinking of two different definitions of "function". One is that are the curves really needed to make the building function? Probably not. Although if I remember correctly the curves for the towers are so because its the vertical circulation of the building. The other term for function is the the sort of designation of the building. The building "function" for alley theater is an assembly hall/ theater hall which means you want an architecture which expresses sentiments about what a theater is. Meaning that the curves are necessary to express the overall function of the building. 

 

Those curving things at the tops of the towers don't seem functional at all - by the first definition.  The second is new to me.  So you're saying that the curves on the Alley are functional because they express sentiments about what a theater is, and a theater is inherently curvy?  I'm not trying to argue or flame you, but it seems like by that definition, almost anything can be functional.  So, the angels on a cathedral are functional because they express the angelic function of the liturgy, which is to adore God on earth as the angels do unceasingly in heaven.  Or the gargoyles are functional because they're scary, and one of the functions of religion is to be scary, etc.

 

It seems to me like brutalism is partly functionalist (first definition) but also somewhat aesthetic and decorative.  It's honest about the building, but some of its honesty is a little dishonest.  Theatrical.

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To me Brutalism wasn't about fetishing functionalism, as traditional Modernism preached, as much as trying to have more "honest" surfacing.  Hence all the concrete facades.  On another level, it seems that whereas Modernism strove for light, clarity and purity of form, much Brutalism, especially from the 1970s, was comfortable with ambiguity of form (as with the Alley) and turning away from exterior light.  It is interesting that due to the age of the baby boom a lot of educational buildings worldwide happened to be built in a Brutalist style.  I remember having classes in one that was like a cave, with a huge but very dimly lit atrium.  

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To me Brutalism wasn't about fetishing functionalism, as traditional Modernism preached, as much as trying to have more "honest" surfacing.  Hence all the concrete facades.  On another level, it seems that whereas Modernism strove for light, clarity and purity of form, much Brutalism, especially from the 1970s, was comfortable with ambiguity of form (as with the Alley) and turning away from exterior light.  It is interesting that due to the age of the baby boom a lot of educational buildings worldwide happened to be built in a Brutalist style.  I remember having classes in one that was like a cave, with a huge but very dimly lit atrium.  

 

I hear you on educational buildings. Pretty much all the schools in my neck of the suburbs growing up were brutalist. Then at A&M, oh my... Heldenfels, Evans, Langford, O&M, Beutel, every engineering building except Old Civ, Harrington, Rudder complex, all of west campus, and Kyle Field itself. At some point it ceased to be a question of style anymore and was simply about money. It wasn't architecture, it was non-chitecture.

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Honestly I just don't see why the blow up with "functional" xD. As architects, we throw around goofy words and definitions to explain things all the time. We change words, create new words that seem utterly ridiculous so we can make a point, or we give new meaning to words. I'm just saying that for some that's what I could be and I've seen function used in that context.

 

To be honest I agree with Subdude. Brutalism, like I said previously, was mostly about the honesty of material. If modernism was a rebellion against the Beaux-Arts, then brutalism was modernisms most extremist end. Even thought it isn't super light, or very sleek it still goes by all the modernist ques. Specifically though, Massing was important, modularization was important. Not to mention these were built in at a time when concrete was really picking up steam in construction and almost EVERYONE wanted to push/explore the limits of concrete.

 

In reality, because Brutalism sometimes falls into different sub categories of architecture I would probably say that Alley theater is both Brutalist and Post-Modern or Expressionist.

 

All in all I think this is a good discussion, but you are really narrowing in just the smallest of things in what I am saying lol. No big deal though. I don't claim to be an expert. I love a spirited debate. I'm just out of architecture school btw, so always learning :P

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Honestly I just don't see why the blow up with "functional" xD. As architects, we throw around goofy words and definitions to explain things all the time. We change words, create new words that seem utterly ridiculous so we can make a point, or we give new meaning to words. I'm just saying that for some that's what I could be and I've seen function used in that context.

To be honest I agree with Subdude. Brutalism, like I said previously, was mostly about the honesty of material. If modernism was a rebellion against the Beaux-Arts, then brutalism was modernisms most extremist end. Even thought it isn't super light, or very sleek it still goes by all the modernist ques. Specifically though, Massing was important, modularization was important. Not to mention these were built in at a time when concrete was really picking up steam in construction and almost EVERYONE wanted to push/explore the limits of concrete.

In reality, because Brutalism sometimes falls into different sub categories of architecture I would probably say that Alley theater is both Brutalist and Post-Modern or Expressionist.

All in all I think this is a good discussion, but you are really narrowing in just the smallest of things in what I am saying lol. No big deal though. I don't claim to be an expert. I love a spirited debate. I'm just out of architecture school btw, so always learning :P

I wouldn't call it a blow up or even a debate, just discussion. You were explaining to me the different definitions of "functional," and I questioned what you were saying. I'm glad to have someone else on here who likes discussing architecture. Not everybody does.

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The Moddy Towers have awesome views from the dorms. The Dorms are pretty awful though.

*Moody*

 

 

UH Law Center:

 

24v1hz5.jpg

 

Federal Building:

 

nyfx5f.jpg

 

Alley:

 

2iggaav.jpg

 

I don't have a picture but there is a Holiday Inn that is 13 floors on the far west side of Town that is sort of brutalist.

 

The following are questionable to me, so architecture buffs help me out. Are they considered Brutalist?

 

i1gzkw.jpg

f2u1rn.jpg

 

I know they are more functionally brutalist... 

 

 

Med Center

20kyf42.jpg

 

Four Seasons?

2lmxrpx.jpg

 

Intercontinental/Royal Sonesta?

16kx98o.jpg

 

Melrose? I know the panels were a lighter blue when originally built..

2mhdhmx.jpg

 

And for you HAIF history buffs.... What was this structure?

t7la2r.jpg

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UH Law Center- noticing the concrete used in that project it is not actually a "brutalist" building. It has elements of it, but just because something is all concrete doesn't mean its brutalist. For example, one of my fav architects is the Japanese architect Tadeo Ado who uses a lot of concrete in his buildings, but it's almost always in a minimalist/modern language or postmodern.

 

Federal Building- Postmodern

 

Alley Theater- Brutalist/ Postmodern/ Expressionist

 

AT&T Building (Westlayn)- Brutalist.

 

AT&T Building downtown- Art Deco. A very boxy one at that, but if you look closer at the exterior ornament on the side its Art Deco.

 

Med Center- Brutalist motifs but is mostly post-modern in its concept and language

 

Four Seasons- not brutalist. It's actually late Modern.

 

International/ Royal Sonesta- not even close to brutalist lol. This is postmodern

 

Melrose- Modern

 

That last building used to be a large switchboard station/education center. I can't remember the name, but that is all modern. It's actually in a book I have at home. I will post the name and the architect later today. Sadly, it was torn down to make way for the Toyota Center.

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That last building used to be a large switchboard station/education center. I can't remember the name, but that is all modern. It's actually in a book I have at home. I will post the name and the architect later today. Sadly, it was torn down to make way for the Toyota Center.

 

IIRC it was an HL&P adjunct to the electrical substation across the street and underground.  It even had a glass capsule elevator that went up and down to the facilities above below for the benefit of tours, which were shut down by our terror of terrorists.

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UH Law Center- noticing the concrete used in that project it is not actually a "brutalist" building. It has elements of it, but just because something is all concrete doesn't mean its brutalist. For example, one of my fav architects is the Japanese architect Tadeo Ado who uses a lot of concrete in his buildings, but it's almost always in a minimalist/modern language or postmodern.

 

Federal Building- Postmodern

 

Alley Theater- Brutalist/ Postmodern/ Expressionist

 

AT&T Building (Westlayn)- Brutalist.

 

AT&T Building downtown- Art Deco. A very boxy one at that, but if you look closer at the exterior ornament on the side its Art Deco.

 

Med Center- Brutalist motifs but is mostly post-modern in its concept and language

 

Four Seasons- not brutalist. It's actually late Modern.

 

International/ Royal Sonesta- not even close to brutalist lol. This is postmodern

 

Melrose- Modern

 

That last building used to be a large switchboard station/education center. I can't remember the name, but that is all modern. It's actually in a book I have at home. I will post the name and the architect later today. Sadly, it was torn down to make way for the Toyota Center.

I thought I had read somewhere the Royal Sonesta was a modern take on brutalist.. Maybe I made that up in my head. It even has some rusty/water drainage stains on it. Looks cold like a bunker in Russia.

 

I knew the Four Seasons was built in the 1980's but it has a very 60's resort feel to it.

 

I'm also surprised by the Federal Building, as it reminds me of a commie block. Thank you for your answers, as I have truly lost touch.

 

Edit:

 

So I guess this is just post-modern? This is the Hotel I was speaking of.

 

5ff6gw.jpg

 

10yffvd.jpg

Edited by Montrose1100
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UH Law Center- noticing the concrete used in that project it is not actually a "brutalist" building. It has elements of it, but just because something is all concrete doesn't mean its brutalist. For example, one of my fav architects is the Japanese architect Tadeo Ado who uses a lot of concrete in his buildings, but it's almost always in a minimalist/modern language or postmodern.

 

Federal Building- Postmodern

 

Alley Theater- Brutalist/ Postmodern/ Expressionist

 

AT&T Building (Westlayn)- Brutalist.

 

AT&T Building downtown- Art Deco. A very boxy one at that, but if you look closer at the exterior ornament on the side its Art Deco.

 

Med Center- Brutalist motifs but is mostly post-modern in its concept and language

 

Four Seasons- not brutalist. It's actually late Modern.

 

International/ Royal Sonesta- not even close to brutalist lol. This is postmodern

 

Melrose- Modern

 

That last building used to be a large switchboard station/education center. I can't remember the name, but that is all modern. It's actually in a book I have at home. I will post the name and the architect later today. Sadly, it was torn down to make way for the Toyota Center.

 

I think it may be a tad anachronistic to call the Alley and especially the Federal Building postmodern, considering when they were built.

 

The Med Center building might be my new favorite Brutalist building in Houston.

 

 

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I think it may be a tad anachronistic to call the Alley and especially the Federal Building postmodern, considering when they were built.

 

The Med Center building might be my new favorite Brutalist building in Houston.

 

Aren't a good amount of movements we give terms to "Anachronistic" ;) I get what you are saying though. I certainly agree with it and it's a logical conclusion.

 

All the Med Center needs is a good power washing and it will lock fabulous! The Med Center is a nice composition.

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Ok so still looking for my book with that one structure, but while I was thinking about that one, I was able to recall two other brutalist gems.

 

Bayou Place (formerly Bayou Center)

 

This was an awesome fusion of both Brutalism and Formalism. It might not look it now, but underneath all that rubbish clad onto it is a really great building.

 

hr3372762-32.jpg

 

 

Neiman Marcus

 

Could certainly use a good power washing though :P. With all the new development in Post Oak, and you know they will probably redevelop good portions of the galleria in the future to more go in line with Houston's New Urbanism, I just hope this one can survive.

Neiman_Marcus_The_Galleria.jpg

 

 

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IIRC it was an HL&P adjunct to the electrical substation across the street and underground.  It even had a glass capsule elevator that went up and down to the facilities above below for the benefit of tours, which were shut down by our terror of terrorists.

 

I think the facility was closed when control of the Texas grid was centralized, maybe in the 1990s.

 

 

 

 

I'm not sure I would call the Federal Building post modern, although it was later considered a precursor, especially to Graves' Portlandia building.  Since it was designed 20 years before true post-modernism, I think it was just considered idiosyncratic for a long time.  If anything I think it is perhaps a last gasp of some of the designs from the 1940s and 1950s that tried to evoke a sort of regionalism with elements like relatively small windows.  These were also used in the downtown Memorial Hospital and original Hermann Hospital.

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I think the facility was closed when control of the Texas grid was centralized, maybe in the 1990s.

 

 

 

 

I'm not sure I would call the Federal Building post modern, although it was later considered a precursor, especially to Graves' Portlandia building.  Since it was designed 20 years before true post-modernism, I think it was just considered idiosyncratic for a long time.  If anything I think it is perhaps a last gasp of some of the designs from the 1940s and 1950s that tried to evoke a sort of regionalism with elements like relatively small windows.  These were also used in the downtown Memorial Hospital and original Hermann Hospital.

 

There was supposed to be an aluminum screen on the exteroior of the building covering the small "punched" windows. The screen was omitted as a cost saving measure so there you have it - pre-Post Modern.

 

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