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Category: Housing

Installation of ReFRAME x FRAME in Hermann Park. Photo: Patrick Peters.

ReFRAME: How Unwanted Cubicles Became Emergency Housing

In 2011 alone, the Environmental Protection Agency noted that more than 22 billion pounds of furniture and furnishings and another 22 billion pounds of ferrous metals, much of which is found in office furniture, were discarded in the U.S. waste stream. Carole Nicholson, a regional A&D workplace manager for Allsteel, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of office products, was acutely aware of these figures. “Fifteen or 20 years ago there was a big segment of the market for used office furniture. But now there’s so much of it that people don’t want to deal with it,” she said. “It costs them money to take it away, so a lot of it ends up in landfills.” When Allsteel was contracted to replace the existing furniture in a 14-story office building in Canada, Nicholson, who lives in Houston, was struck with an idea.

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Townhouses in East Downtown. Photo: Allyn West.

A Vote for the Houston Townhouse

At the end of every year, Swamplot hosts a wickedly irreverent competition called the Swampies with categories like “Best Demolition,” “Most Overrated Neighborhood,” and “Favorite Houston Design Cliché.” Normally, I refrain from participating in the voting and commenting because the process is too below-the-belt for me. I’m only comfortable snickering from a distance.

This year, however, I would like to join the fray by campaigning for the Houston Townhouse as “Favorite Houston Design Cliché,” even though I will argue that it is not correct to call that building type a design cliché. First, let’s consider the text for the nomination:

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