Self-iconization by Steven Heller
Steven Heller has been an art director and writer at the New York Times for over thirty years. He founded the M.F.A. “Designer as Author” program at the School of Visual Arts. He has also written or edited more than 100 books, including Iron Fists: Branding the 20-Century Totalitarian State and The Design Entrepreneur. On January 21st, Heller kicked off the RDA Exposing Graphic Design speaker series to a packed audience. Below you can watch the complete video of his presentation.
Rice Design Alliance tour goers visit the partially completed 99K house. [Photo by Raj Mankad]
Peter Wang and Colin Tangeman [Photo by Raj Mankad]
Peter Wang is a Geophysicist, a League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor, and an advocate for cyclists in the Houston-Galveston region. On March 5th, sitting outside the Brochstein Pavilion, he discussed the state of bicycling with Colin Tangeman, a writer and teacher at the University of Houston, and Raj Mankad, editor of Cite.
Raj Mankad and Colin Tangeman: What is your vision for cycling in this area? What are the problems? What needs to happen?
Peter Wang: Do we mean Harris County or City of Houston, that’s an important distinction?
Houston Light Guard Armory Entrance [Photo by Jesse Hager]
Behind a corner gas station and in the shadow of luxury apartments sits one of the finest buildings in Houston, falling into disrepair. Designed by Alfred C. Finn and completed in 1925, the Houston Light Guard Armory building has been abandoned for quite some time. Vagrants and vandals have had their say, as well as Gulf Coast weather and its most recent envoy, Hurricane Ike. The history of the building is regrettably full of misfortune. After only 13 years of service to the Houston Light Guard, the armory was deeded to the state. Attempts to rescue the building have come in fits and starts, so far without success.
The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum has plans to restore the Armory and give it a purpose that relates to its original use.
Interior from the Cordell House by Robertson Design and Numen Development [All photographs by Paul Hester]
For some, living small is a virtue. Consciences are burdened by their carbon foot prints, a small house means less resources used. For others, living small is a necessity. A job is lost, the household income shrunk, and the budget can’t fit the bonus rooms. And for another group, living small is both virtue and necessity, but also a challenge to design. It is an opportunity to create a house that is efficient, intricate, and lovely.
The 2009 Rice Design Alliance (RDA) Home Tour, this March 28-29 weekend, features nine homes under 2,000 square feet including the winning entry for the 99K House competition and the Rice University Solar Decathlon House.
This month’s issue of the Houston Free Press has an article (click on “features”) on Wilshire village, the long semi-abandoned 1940 apartment complex at Alabama and Dunlavy. It quotes a former resident:
“Houston has changed so much since 1965 when I went there to attend Rice. All the old places have changed. Rice Village is unbearable overbuilt and congested… I actually liked Houston back in those old days. It has a soul back then, which I think has since been sold to the devil.”
The issues cover illustrates the question “is Houston selling its soul” with pictures of condos, lofts, and the Ashby highrise. The devil, obviously, is the developers.
Cyclists pass by the Menil Collection while riding the March 22, 2009 Tour de Houston [Photo by Raj Mankad]
Blessed Sacrament Church (1910-2004), 4015 Sherman, Birdsall P. Briscoe, architect [Photo by David Bush]
Sign marking the beginning of segment I-2 of Texas State Highway 99, also known as Grand Parkway. [Photo from Wikimedia Commons]
Perhaps the biggest news over the past few weeks regarding the Houston area built environment has been the struggle over Segment E of the Grand Parkway, which would run through the Katie Prarie. The debate has heated up as the state presses on to use stimulus funds to extend the outer ring road.
Friday March 13
Grand Parkway snarl: Stimulus funds should not be used to build toll roads. Tolls should. [Houston Chronicle] “Fees collected from users should foot the bills for these pay-to-drive roadways, which have come into ever-increasing favor across Texas. Funds to build them should not come from a huge pot of found money such as the stimulus. Those dollars can be put to better use on projects that are equally as necessary as the toll roads but which don’t come equipped with their own built-in revenue stream.”
Two cyclists stand ready to help inaugurate the Columbia Tap trail. [Photo by Raj Mankad]
Last Saturday morning, a large crowd celebrated a little trail. The newly completed Columbia Tap connects the area east of the George R. Brown Convention Center to the Third Ward. Over 4 miles in length, it follows the former Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way creating a north-south corridor roughly bounded by Dowling Street on the west and Scott Street on the east. Here is a link to the not-very-clear Columbia Tap route map.