robertogreco + houston   27

Catapult | The Case Against Making a City “Beautiful” | Bryan Washington
"On finding beauty in Houston amidst the ugliness, and what the city stands to lose from increasing gentrification."



"A few years back, my buddy Sam called Houston one big strip mall. He’d flown in from Hong Kong to study at a local university, hoping to stay a few years longer for a gig in medicine. Sam never had a reliable ride, and Uber was out of his budget, so another friend of mine named Jon and I were always driving him around town. We’d made a point of showing him what we thought there was to see in the city, barreling our way out of the downtown plaza we worked at for the more open, absurdly crowded pastures constantly clogging Houston’s highways.

Sometimes, we found Indian food out in Sugarland, pausing for antacids at the CVS whenever the curried goat and Tsingtao overtook us. Once, we drank our way up and down Washington, just to end up sleeping in Jon’s car, in this drunken huddle, burrowed around a busted radiator while proggy ’80s rock crooned from the bar beside us. This time, we were driving down Bellaire Boulevard, taking note of strip mall after strip mall after strip mall. And Sam pointed out, in a still-elastic English, that Houston was actually pretty fucking ugly, wasn’t it?

I looked at Jon. Jon told me to look at the fucking road (which was fair: on the best of days, I’m not the smoothest driver). Sam stretched in the back seat, where he’d set up something like an impromptu photo studio—everywhere he went, he took photos, which he’d send to his folks back home. And this particular stretch of road in Chinatown was hardly noteworthy, hardly different from the avenues surrounding, hardly meriting a portrait worth painting for the Louvre.

But before I could start in on one of my usual rants—about how there is beauty in ugliness, how the city’s residents had made an oasis out of the bayou, blah blah—Sam laughed. He said it was nice. This was different. It worked.

Jon laughed, too. Sam kept taking pictures. The three of us kept driving. I thought then that it was funny how someone who’d only been in the city for a few months had gotten at the heart of the thing—he’d figured it out exactly, succinctly."
bryanwashinton  houston  ugliness  urbanplanning  urbanism  zoning  design  urban  2018  austin  texas  gentification  sripmalls 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Los Angeles, Houston and the appeal of the hard-to-read city
"This is not going to be a column about all the things the New York Times got wrong about the Los Angeles Times in its recent front-page story by Tim Arango and Adam Nagourney, "A Paper Tears Apart in a City That Never Quite Came Together." It is not, for the most part, going to be about all the things the New York Times got wrong (or simply failed to mention) about Los Angeles itself in that article, which argued that recent turmoil at this newspaper is emblematic of the city's broader lack of support for its major institutions. Plenty of smart people have already weighed in on both fronts.

And yes, every word in the previous sentence links to one of those smart people. Here are a couple more for good measure. When Josh Kun, Carolina Miranda, Daniel Hernandez, David Ulin, Alissa Walker, Matthew Kang and Carolyn Kellogg are united in knocking your analysis of Los Angeles, it might, you know, be a sign.

Anyway. This is going to be a column, instead, about something slightly different: about the legibility (and illegibility) of cities more generally. About how we react — as reporters and critics and simply as people — when we're confronted with a city that doesn't make sense to us right away.

Ten days or so before that story appeared, I spent a long weekend in Houston, meeting up with three old friends ostensibly to see the Warriors, the NBA team I grew up rooting for, play the Rockets — but also just to hang out and eat barbecue and visit the Menil, my favorite museum building in America (just edging out another Texas landmark, the Kimbell in Fort Worth).

Houston is casually written off even more often than Los Angeles, which is saying something. Now the fourth largest city in the country in population — and gaining on third-place Chicago — it's an unruly place in terms of its urbanism, a place that (as Los Angeles once did) has room, or makes room, for a wide spectrum of architectural production, from the innovative to the ugly. Like Los Angeles, it's a city that invested heavily in freeways and other car-centric infrastructure last century and remains, in many neighborhoods, a terrible place to walk.

It's long been a place people go to reinvent themselves, to get rich or to disappear. The flip side of its great tolerance is a certain lack of cohesion, a difficulty in articulating a set of common civic goals. (Here's where I concede that the instinct behind the New York Times piece on L.A., if little about its execution, was perfectly reasonable.) As is the case in Los Angeles, the greatest thing and the worst thing about Houston are one and the same: Nobody cares what anybody else is doing. Freedom in both places sometimes trumps community. It also tends to trump stale donor-class taste.

Roughly one in four residents of Houston's Harris County is foreign-born, a rate nearly as high as those in New York and Los Angeles. Houston's relationship with Dallas, the third biggest city in Texas, is something like L.A.'s with San Francisco; the southern city in each pair is less decorous, less fixed in its civic identity and (at the moment, at least) entirely more vital.

I've been to Houston five or six times; I like spending time there largely because I don't know it as well as I'd like to. That's another way of saying that while I'm there, I'm reminded of the way in which much of the world interacts with and judges Los Angeles, from a position of alienation and even ignorance. I just happen to enjoy that sensation more than most people do.

If I had to put my finger on what unites Houston and Los Angeles, it is a certain elusiveness as urban object. Both cities are opaque and hard to read. What is Houston? Where does it begin and end? Does it have a center? Does it need one? It's tough to say, even when you're there — even when you're looking directly at it.

The same has been said of Los Angeles since its earliest days. Something Carey McWilliams noted about L.A. in 1946 — that it is a place fundamentally ad hoc in spirit, "a gigantic improvisation" — is perhaps even more true of Houston. Before you can pin either city down, you notice that it's wriggled out of your grasp.

People who are accustomed to making quick sense of the world, to ordering it into neat and sharply defined categories, tend to be flummoxed by both places. And reporters at the New York Times are certainly used to making quick sense of the world. If there's one reason the paper keeps getting Los Angeles so spectacularly wrong, I think that's it. Smart, accomplished people don't like being made to feel out of their depth. Los Angeles makes out-of-town reporters feel out of their depth from their first day here.

Their reaction to that feeling, paradoxically enough, is very often to attempt to write that feeling away — to conquer that sense of dislocation by producing a story that sets out to explain Los Angeles in its entirety. Because it's a challenge, maybe, or because they simply can't be convinced, despite all the evidence right in front of them, that Los Angeles, as cities go, is an especially tough nut to crack.

Plenty of journalists have left Los Angeles over the years and moved to New York to work for the New York Times; none of them, as far as I know, has attempted, after two or three months on the job, to write a piece explaining What New York City Means. I can think of many New Yorkers — each of them highly credentialed academically or journalistically or both, which is perhaps the root of the problem — who have come to Los Angeles and tried to pull off that same trick here.

That tendency — to attempt the moon shot, the overarching analysis, too soon — is equal parts hubris and panic. It usually goes about as well as it went this time around for Arango, not incidentally a brand-new arrival in the New York Times bureau here, and Nagourney.

Among the most dedicated scholars of Houston's urban form in recent years has been Lars Lerup, former dean of the Rice University School of Architecture. In his new book of essays, "The Continuous City," he argues that the first step in understanding Houston and cities like it is to begin with a certain humility about the nature and scale of the task.

This kind of city has grown so large — in economic and environmental as well as physical reach — that it begins to stretch beyond our field of vision. The best way to grasp it, according to Lerup, is to understand that it is not Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco or Chicago — to recognize it instead as "a vast field with no distinct borders."

"The old city was a discrete object sitting on a Tuscan hill surrounded by a collectively constructed wall; the new city is everywhere," he writes. "Only when we accept that we can only attain a partial understanding can work begin."

Lerup stresses that huge, spread-out cities like Houston — which he also calls "distributed cities," places where "the spiky downtown is just a blip in the flatness" — have long been tough to read, in part because they are "always in the throes of change." But the relationship between urbanization and climate change has added a new layer of complexity, because big metro regions and their pollution are exacerbating the ecological crisis. The city now "owns everything" and must answer for everything, "even the raging hurricane bearing down on its coast." The vast city has grown vaster still.

If there's one place I part ways with Lerup, it has to do with his insistence that "few conceptual tools have evolved" to help us grapple with the distributed city and its meanings. At least in the case of Los Angeles, the literature on this score is richer, going back many decades, than even many locals realize.

There's not only McWilliams' superb, clear-eyed book "Southern California: An Island on the Land," which I would make required reading for every new hire if I were running the Los Angeles bureau of the New York Times. (Especially the part where McWilliams admits that he hated Los Angeles when he arrived and that it took him "seven long years of exile" to understand and appreciate the city. Seven years! And that was with a brain bigger and more nimble than most.) There's also architect Charles Moore's 1984 guidebook, "City Observed: Los Angeles," which he wrote with Peter Becker and Regula Campbell.

Right at the beginning, Moore, as if to anticipate Lerup, reminds his readers that L.A. is "altogether different from the compact old centers of Manhattan and Boston." (It is not a discrete object sitting on a Tuscan hill.) Making sense of it, as a result, requires "an altogether different plan of attack."

That simple bit of advice is the only one journalists newly arrived in Los Angeles really need to get started on the right foot. It's also one those journalists have been ignoring for 34 years and counting."
houston  losangeles  cities  illegibility  vitality  urban  urbanism  nyc  christopherhawthorne  2018  socal  california  larlerup  manhattan  boston  sanfrancisco  chicago  nytimes  careymcwilliams  joshkun  carolinamiranda  danielhernandez  davidulin  latimes  alissawalker  matthewkang  carolynkellogg  timarango  adamnagourney  elitism  legibility  population  place  identity  elusiveness  hubris  panic  urbanization  climatechange  complexity  charlesmoore 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Yes, You Can Build Your Way to Affordable Housing | Sightline Institute
"Houston, Tokyo, Chicago, Montreal, Vienna, Singapore, Germany—all these places have built their way to affordable housing. They’re not alone. Housing economist Issi Romem has detailed the numerous American metro areas that have done the same: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, and more. Many more. They have done so mostly by sprawling like Houston.

In fact, Romem’s principal finding is that US cities divide into three groups: expansive cities (sprawling cities where housing is relatively affordable such as those just listed), expensive cities (which sprawl much less but are more expensive because they resist densification, typified by San Francisco), and legacy cities (like Detroit, which are not growing).

Romem’s research makes clear that the challenge for Cascadian cities is to densify their way to affordability—a rare feat on this continent. Chicago and Montreal are the best examples mentioned above.

In Cascadia’s cities, though, an ascendant left-leaning political approach tends to discount such private-market urbanism for social democratic approaches like that in Vienna.

Unfortunately, the Vienna model, like the Singapore one, may not be replicable in Cascadia. Massive public spending and massive public control work in both Vienna and Singapore, but they depend on long histories of public-sector involvement in housing plus entrenched institutions and national laws that are beyond the pale of North American politics. No North American jurisdiction has ever come close to building enough public or nonprofit housing to keep up with aggregate housing demand. This statement is not to disparage subsidized housing for those at the bottom of the economic ladder or with special needs. Cascadia’s social housing programs provide better residences for hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise be in substandard homes or on the streets.

But acknowledging the implausibility of the Vienna model for Cascadia may help us have realistic expectations about how large (well, small) a contribution public and nonprofit housing can make in solving the region’s housing shortage writ large. Accepting that reality may help us guard against wishful thinking.

Because adopting a blinkered view of housing models is dangerous. Adopting the view that Vienna, for example, is the one true path to the affordable city—a view that fits well with a strand of urban Cascadia’s current left-leaning politics, which holds that profit-seeking in homebuilding is suspect and that capitalist developers, rather than being necessary means to the end of abundant housing, are to be resisted in favor of virtuous not-for-profit or public ventures—runs the risk of taking us to a different city entirely.

In the political, legal, and institutional context of North America, trying to tame the mega-billion-dollar home building industry—and the mega-trillion dollar real-estate asset value held by homeowners and companies—in order to steer the entire housing economy toward a Viennese public-and-nonprofit model may end up taking us not to Vienna at all but to a different city. It might end up delivering us to San Francisco. So . . ."
housing  houston  tokyo  chicago  montreal  vienna  singapore  germany  economics  policy  cascadia  sanfrancisco  seattle  phoenix  atlanta  chrarlotte  dallas  lasvegas  orlando  raleigh  sprawl  northamerica  us  canada 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Relics of the Space Age - The New York Times
"Nearly three decades ago, Roland Miller, a photographer, received a phone call asking for help in disposing of photography chemicals from an old office building at Cape Canaveral in Florida. When he went there, he was enchanted by the hulking masses of abandoned launch pads. Mr. Miller persuaded NASA and the Air Force to let him take pictures.

Later, he traveled the country to photograph other relics like the catacomb-like passages, above, of the stands that held the Saturn 5 engines during test firings at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The photographs have now been collected in a book, “Abandoned in Place,” published this month by the University of New Mexico Press.

“It’s really the only way for a lot of people to see this stuff,” Mr. Miller said."
kennethchang  spaceexploration  spaceage  ruins  2016  photography  spacearchaeology  us  florida  virginia  houston  texas  capecanaveral  newmexico  whitesands 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Brandon - an album on Flickr
"Exhibition of Machine Project Documentation at The Brandon, Houston, 2014"

[See also: http://thebrandoncontemporary.com/machine-project ]

"The Brandon is pleased to present the first retrospective of the screen prints and performance documentation of Los Angeles art collective Machine Project. Bringing together over 50 posters and 25 videos made between 2003 and 2013, topics covered in this show include:

Indoor shipwrecks

Fire starting with sticks

Dog Operas (by and for dogs)

Vacations for plants

Converting cacti into musical instruments

Kimchee

Pizza

Psychics

Music for parking garages

Three disturbed big box store employees

Simultaneous aerobics and butter making

A drag tableaux-vivant reenactment of scenes from the Marlene Dietrich western Destry Rides Again

A workshop on how to escape from the trunk of a car "so that the next time you're kidnapped it doesn't have to ruin the rest of your day."

Described in the LA Weekly as "Nikola Tesla by way of P.T. Barnum, with a dash of 'The Anarchist Cookbook", Machine Project is a non-profit performance and installation space investigating art, technology, natural history, science, music, and literature in an informal storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Machine Project also operates as a loose collective of artists producing shows at locations ranging from beaches to museums to parking lots. Under the direction of founder Mark Allen, Machine has produced over 1500 events, workshops and installations.

Mark Allen is the founder and executive director of Machine Project, a non-profit performance and installation space investigating art, technology, natural history, science, music, literature, and food in a disheveled storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Beyond their storefront space, Machine Project operates as an informal group of artists producing shows at locations ranging from beaches to museums to parking lots. Under his direction Machine has produced over 1000 events, workshops and installations. Mark received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, following a residency with the Core Fellowship of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

Opening reception: Friday, April 18, 6pm-9pm.

Additionally we will be screening select videos from the Machine Project archives every Wednesday from April 23-May 21.

Gallery talk: Saturday, April 19, 3pm. Please join us for an artist discussion with Machine Project founder Mark Allen and Houston-based designer and typographer Sibylle Hagmann.

Sibylle Hagmann started her career in Switzerland after earning a B.F.A. from the Basel School of Design in 1989. She explored her passion for type design and typography while completing her M.F.A. at the California Institute of the Arts. Over the years she developed award winning typeface families, such as Cholla and Odile. Cholla was originally commissioned by Art Center College of Design in 1999 and released by the type foundry Emigre in the same year. The typeface family Odile, published in 2006 was awarded the Swiss Federal Design Award. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and recognized by the Type Directors Club of New York and Japan, among others. Her typeface collections are available from Kontour.com, a type foundry launched in 2012.

Machine Project Website
http://machineproject.com/

Kontour
http://www.kontour.com/ "
machineproject  exhibits  thebrandon  houston  losangeles  2014  graphicdesign  design  graphics  print  screenprinting  kontour  sibyllehagmann  typography 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Alberto Mendoza Day Care Center - Christian Ervin
"The central issue for the Alberto Mendoza Day Care Center is the perilous relationship between institution and community in an area whose future is uncertain. This low-density, low-income, largely Hispanic neighborhood in Houston’s Second Ward is soon to be destroyed and replaced with extensive parkland as part of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s master plan. The typical role of any institution-even one as small as a day care facility-is to provide a stable place for public activities. However, in this case, stability would be inconsistent with the future needs of the community. With this condition in mind, this proposal accepts that the flexibility of a nomadic architecture is necessary for the survival of a nomadic people.

The three programmatic requirements for the building--a caretaker’s house, administrative offices, and a general playroom area--are divided into three potentially transient objects. These programmatic plugs are clustered together on a given site within a site-specific armature containing the utility infrastructure for the building to form the institution, essentially from a kit-of-parts. The sizes of the volumes are designed such that they may be easily transported to a new site, rearranged, and plugged-in. The plugs are not generic; they are specific to this program but not intrinsically specific to site.

In the instance of the Neagle Street lot, the configuration of the programmatic plugs and the surface that cradles them are both carefully calibrated to local siting conditions. The caretaker’s residence is placed in the opposite corner of the site from the day care facility to allow for some privacy, but ensures the required level of safety and vision in its watchtower-like form. Indeed, as a three storey structure, it is the only plug that rises above the site-specific surface."
christianervin  2006  design  architecture  nomadism  mobility  transience  ephemerality  portability  popupschools  schools  education  schooldesign  houston  texas  ephemeral  nomads 
november 2013 by robertogreco
PaperCity | Arts | Art + Social Consciousness = A Couple Called de Menil
"Imagine a contest held to anoint the most influential art couple of all time. Surely the top vote-getters would be Houston’s John and Dominique de Menil, catalytic philanthropists whose lives intersected — and impacted — not only modern art, but architecture, film, human rights and politics in ways that positively, profoundly and humanistically altered 20th-century and 21st-century history in Texas and beyond. (The Dia Art Foundation was established by Menil progeny, for example.) Now a volume arrives that chronicles their legacy: Art and Activism: Projects of John and Dominique de Menil."
johndemenil  dominiquedemenil  art  history  houston  2010  texas  demenil  books 
july 2013 by robertogreco
A+ Unlimited Potential - Museum District | Houston A+ Challenge
"A+UP is a tuition-free, open application middle school scheduled to open in Houston’s Museum District in Fall 2013. We are now accepting applications to join our first class of 40 sixth graders. We will add a new class of sixth graders each year, and by 2015 our school will serve students in grades 6-8.

A+UP offers families a unique alternative to traditional school models. Our teachers are known as Learning Coaches, because they design technology-rich curriculum to fit each student’s unique needs. The school itself serves as a safe, supportive place for young adults to access the many high-quality academic resources now available online.

Classes are held ON-SITE at a broad range of Houston’s finest learning institutions, including:

• The Health Museum
• The Museum of Natural Science
• The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
• The Houston Zoo
• The Children's Museum, and
• The Holocaust Museum Houston.

This “mobile” setting allows students to utilize these collections and resources for in-depth, hands-on learning projects, while reinforcing the school’s core principle: that 21st century learning transcends time and space."

[via: http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/memorial/data/new-middle-school-set-to-open-in-museum-district-this/article_7c1fe151-04b9-543d-adc5-ad7036b3b8b5.html ]

[See also: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/A-mobile-middle-school-for-Museum-District-4590318.php ]
cityasclassroom  museums  schools  a+up  houston  texas  education  mobileclassroom  mobile  nomadicclassroom  2013  tcsnmy  ncmideas  teaching  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  cicelybenoit  jennifermascheck  scottvanbeck  paulcastro 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The James Turrell Skyspace
"Standing adjacent to the Shepherd School of Music on the Rice University campus, James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace has landed. The pyramidal structure accommodates 120 people on two levels and is acoustically engineered for musical performances and a laboratory for music school students. Constructed of grass, concrete, stone and composite steel, the structure is equipped with an LED light performance that projects onto the ceiling and through the 72-foot square knife-edge roof, which is open to the sky. Turrell’s composition of light complements the natural light present at sunrise and sunset, and transforms the Skyspace into a locale for experiencing beauty and reflective interaction with the surrounding campus and the natural world. “Twilight Epiphany” is made possible by Suzanne Deal Booth, member of the Rice Board of Trustees."
installations  2012  light  jamesturrell  riceuniversity  houston  art  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
Workshop Houston
"Workshop Houston’s mission is to provide youth with creative, technical and educational resources. Our vision is to lay the groundwork for a just society by creating a community that provides youth with support, expanded opportunities and alternative definitions of success. Workshop Houston has five shops that provide resources and support for young people: the Third Ward Bike Shop (do-it-yourself bike repair), the Chopper Shop (welding and metal fabrication), the Beat Shop (hip-hop music production), the Style Shop (fashion design) and the Scholar Shop (tutoring and academic enrichment)."
houston  art  community  youth  education  workshophouston  bikes  fabrication  thirdward  music  design  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? - Culture - The Atlantic
"Man listen--Negroes like Atlanta. Negroes like Chicago. Negroes like Houston. Negroes like Raleigh-Durham (another area that doesn't make the cut, for some reason.) Negroes like Oakland. Negroes have the right to like where they live, independent of Massa, for their own particular, native, independent reasons (family? great barbecue? housing stock?) Just like Jewish-Americans have the right to like New York--or not. Just like Japanese-Americans have the right to like Cali--or not.

This particular Negro loves Denver--and Chicago too. But the notion that black people are pawns on a chess-board, which conservatives and liberals move around in order to one-up each each other, has got to go. Sometimes--just sometimes--a black dude isn't a problem. He's just a dude trying to marry a beautiful woman, raise a decent kid, retire to an tropical island, smoke some good herb, and drink some good rum.

Let Portland be Portland. And let black folks be themselves. We're getting along fine."
cities  race  ta-nehisicoates  portland  atlanta  nyc  houston  dallas  progressive  urban  diversity  chicago  seattle  austin  minneapolis  denver  oregon  losangeles  raleigh  2009  gentrification  politics  policy 
may 2010 by robertogreco
The Shipping Muse - Slideshows - Dwell
"One of the main draws of Kevin Freeman and Jen Feldmann’s house is its connection to the neighborhood, which is why the front porch was a must. “Homes that have a door but no outside space say, ‘I’m not interested in you,’” designer Christopher Robertson explains. “This says, ‘I’m here to be part of the community.’”
architecture  containers  shippingcontainers  homes  desogn  houston 
march 2010 by robertogreco
SSRN-How Overregulation Creates Sprawl (Even in a City without Zoning) by Michael Lewyn
"In fact, a wide variety of municipal regulatory and spending policies have made Houston more sprawling and automobile-dominated than would a more free-market-oriented set of policies. The article also proposes free-market, anti-sprawl alternatives to those government policies."
houston  sprawl  regulation  zoning  government  urbanism  urban  cities  planning  landuse 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Fighting Gentrification With Money In Houston : NPR
"Redefining Houston's Third Ward: State Rep. Garnet Coleman's district is full of history — but he wants to protect its future."
houston  thirdward  housing  gentrification  cities 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Greener Houston Grapples With Diversity And Sprawl : NPR
"Houston is where you find out what happens when a million people drop by your place.

That's roughly what's going on now in Greater Houston. The metro population has increased by roughly a million this decade. People came as immigrants from Mexico and China. They came as job-seekers from California. They came as refugees from New Orleans.

So that's why Morning Edition traveled here: We're following the crowd."
transportation  houston  urbanization  sustainability  gentrification  cities  planning  growth  energy  environment 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Houston: Texas-Sized Sprawl, No End In Sight : NPR
"On a ride outside the central city, Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University who has studied Houston for decades, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep about the city's sense of scale.

"The city of Houston covers 620 square miles," he says. "You could put inside the city limits of Houston, simultaneously — I kid you not — the cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit."
houston  sprawl  energy  cities  sunbelt  urban  planning 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Survey : Thumb is directed by Luke Bulman & Jessica Young
"Thumb is a Brooklyn and Baltimore-based graphic design office that was organized as a partnership in 2007. Thumb works on public, private, and self-initiated projects, usually in the areas of architecture, art, design, and culture. Partners Jessica Young and Luke Bulman both received Master of Architecture degrees from Rice University, in Houston, Texas, in 2002 and 1998 respectively.

Thumb is fond of fluorescent inks, microscopic art, live and immediate processes, color, Ebay, shape, very glossy paper, discs, surprises, diagrams, rainbow paper, awkward transitions..."

Previously:

"Thumb is a Brooklyn-based graphic design office that works on public, private, and self-initiated projects, usually in the areas of architecture, art, design, and culture.

Some of our current projects include: the graphic identity and exhibition design for Towards the Sentient City, in collaboration with the Architectural League; the graphic identity for International Architecture Bienalle in Rotterdam with Interboro Partners, co-curators of the exhibition; identity and environmental graphics for LentSpace, a project of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the graphic identity for the third Columbia Conference on Architecture, Engineering and Materials..."
design  architecture  us  graphics  identity  nyc  typography  brooklyn  agency  graphic  studio  portfolio  graphicdesign  thumb  glvo  print  books  posters  houston  riceuniversity 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Sisyphus Office Exhibition, Houston 2009. on the Behance Network
"The artists involved in the project are collaborating with businesses and offices in and around Houston in order to highlight art as an integral and necessary distraction in our day to day life. The artists and offices involved in Sisyphus Office are working physically and conceptually with the notions of existentialism, capitalism, artistic romanticism and deadpan slapstickism as a means to examine the artifice that keeps us clinging to reality and distracted from the void. Sisyphus Office is about punching the clock, and then punching it again…but harder the second time. It’s about transcending the mundane through the beauty and absurdity of distraction. It’s about recognizing the comedy in the tragedy of the day to day… and then waking up again to do the same thing all over again the next morning."
art  work  humor  houston  drawing  typography  installation  office  design  via:migurski  2009  handdrawn  illustration  culture  collage 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Lone Star Rising — The American, A Magazine of Ideas
"How a combination of ambition, entrepreneurship, trade, and tolerance made Houston America’s booming opportunity city."

[See also:http://www.american.com/archive/2008/march-april-magazine-contents/lone-star-rising ]
joelkotkin  us  economics  cities  houston  texas  growth  migration  urban  planning 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Welcome | Project Row Houses
"Project Row Houses is a neighborhood based art and cultural organization located in Houston's Third Ward. PRH was established in 1993 on a site of 22 abandoned shotgun houses (c. 1930) to connect the work of artists with the revitalization of our communi
architecture  riceuniversity  houston  art  museums  public  community  nonprofit  housing  activism  galleries  nonprofits 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Project Row Houses - Rick Lowe - - Art - Report - New York Times
"Although it’s hard to tell at a glance, this stretch of Holman may be the most impressive and visionary public art project in the country — a project that is miles away, geographically and philosophically, from Chelsea and Art Basel and the whole mon
architecture  riceuniversity  houston  art  museums  public 
december 2006 by robertogreco

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