Author Archive

Map of poverty rates in Houston. Data: Shell Center for Sustainability, Rice University. Drawing: Nicola Springer.

Cite 97: The Future Now

The new issue of Cite (97) has been mailed and will be available soon at the Brazos Bookstore, CAMH, MFAH, River Oaks Bookstore, and other stores. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to the issue by guest editor Nicola Springer

Redraw the charts, trace the maps, shade between the lines … this was my way of making sense of all the data. The data points come from Lester King, PhD, an urban planner and fellow at Rice University who has developed a set of sustainability indicators for Houston and has made the information available to the public along with an array of visualization tools. My hope is that these data can provide a baseline for thinking about the projects featured in this issue, projects that are just breaking ground or that are on the boards as speculative ideas for the near future …

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Illustration by Sarah Welch.

Not Your Grandfather's School: HISD Superintendent Terry Grier Speaks with Cite

The following interview appears in Cite 92, a special issue on education available now at Brazos Bookstore, CAMH, MFAH, Issues, River Oaks Bookstore, and other stores. Terry Grier, the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District (HISD), spoke with Nicola Springer on March 4, 2013 to discuss what will be built with funds from the $2 billion bond passed in November 2012. Though experiments in education are taking place in public schools across the country, no district on the scale of HISD (270 campuses, 204,000 students, and 30,000 employees) has undertaken a campaign to build “21st Century Schools” and implement “blended learning” curriculum reform. In the interview, Grier explains what Houstonians should expect and what he expects out of Houstonians.

NICOLA SPRINGER: We understand that you’ve talked extensively to consultants and architects about what you want to accomplish with the 2012 bond and visited schools around the country. What has influenced you most, what buildings inspire you, and what helped create your vision for that bond?

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Cite 92: The Education Issue

A new issue of Cite (92) was mailed and is available at the Brazos Bookstore, CAMH, MFAH, Issues, River Oaks Bookstore, and other stores. Below is a letter from Nicola Springer, the guest editor of this issue, followed by the Table of Contents.

“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us,” Winston Churchill once said. As an architect who designs schools, I have repeated these words many times—to both clients and colleagues—but the process of editing this issue of Cite has forced me to re-evaluate their meaning. When those words were said, it was a different century, when buildings served a different purpose. Buildings were institutions made of stone; impregnable, they communicated to young and old the strength of a nation.

We now live in a time when the nature of knowledge and production have fundamentally changed, and as a result our institutions are more fluid and we interact differently with our buildings. We change them, and we are not simply awed by them. We may be at first shaped by buildings, but those buildings and the institutions behind them must now be more open to reshaping. This is a world where education is—and when it is not it should be—fluid and dynamic, and our schools and campuses should reflect that fluidity.

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Cite 80 cover [Art by Jorge Galvan, Color Aid paper, thread, and pins]

Cite 80: Houstopia 2035

Letter from the Editor
In the 1990’s, a new wave of architecture professors at Rice University took on Houston as an experiment in urbanism. Whereas American cities like Boston and New York offered infill and contextual strategies by which to analyze and investigate, the seemingly blank canvas of the “Space City” offered up the idea of a new breed of city, or anti-city. As students we were rolled out to all corners of the region to investigate the hidden city — how the industrial warehouse, the bayou, the suburban tract, the mega-mall, the parking lot, and all the spaces in between created the tapestry that is Houston.

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