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Category: News

Entrance to proposed Houston Arboretum Visitor Center with a vista of restored Gulf Coast prairie. Houston Arboretum.

ICYMI: Big Outdoors, Micro-Living, and More

Houston’s past of “big houses, not housing” and a “sensational lack of convivial public space” is being turned on its head. Molly Glentzer reports for the Houston Chronicle on the Houston Arboretum’s plans, which bring yet more firms of national repute to transform our parks, while RE/MAX markets micro-living in EaDo.

Putting the Wilderness Back in Houston Arboretum
Molly Glentzer, Houston Chronicle
Steven Spears of Design Workshop, Reed-Hilderbrand landscape architects, Lake|Flato architects, Texas ecologists from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, transportation planners from Walter P. Moore, cultural planners from SWCA environmental consultants, Texas A&M University forester W. Todd Watson, and park operations experts from ETM Associates reimagine the Houston Arboretum.

Micro-Living Project Coming to EaDo
Laura Cook, RE/MAX
A 24-story development of units less than 500 square feet will sit on a full 1.4 acre block at the Southwest corner of Leeland and Live Oak in East Downtown.

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Rendering for George R. Brown Convention Center updates. WHR Architects.

ICYMI: Plan Houston Passes and Other News

Several efforts underway for years have come to a head in Houston. City Council approved Plan Houston. As Planning Director Patrick Walsh explains in this Houston Matters interview, though the document is short on measurable goals, it contains the vision, policy directives, and performance indicators that will provide the foundation for more detailed plans that city staff and leaders can work together on more effectively. More news below:

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Rendering of the Menil Drawing Institute. Courtesy: Johnston Marklee / The Menil Collection.

Piano Pavilion at Kimbell Art Museum. Photo: Robert LaPrelle.

Exterior of Humble Oil Building. Image: Michelangelo Sabatino.

ICYMI: Why the ExxonMobil Building is Cool and Other News from the End of November

It’s not only Cite contributor and architect Matt Johnson who has concerns about what Ziegler Cooper has proposed to do to the 44-story ExxonMobil Building.

The renderings show how the 1962 building’s distinctive seven-foot-deep brise-soleil shades would be covered up by a new armor of energy-efficient glazed glass. But — in case you missed it — former Cite managing editor and present Houston chronicler Lisa Gray doesn’t seem so crazy about that: “I’d be happy if that building were going to sprout atop one of the surface parking lots that blight the southern part of Downtown,” she writes in a Chronicle column published Sunday, December 1. “But it’s not a new building. Sure, [it] needs to be freshened up for new tenants, a new era. But I was hoping for a gentler nip-and-tuck, one that plays up the building’s Mad Men-era cool—not one that strips away precisely the things that make it great, and leaves a shiny new-looking box where a piece of the city’s soul used to be. … [A] renovation should certainly address [the building’s] flaws—its awkward courtyard, its lack of connection to Houston’s tunnel system. But why not build on its strengths? Why wipe out its personality? Why erase its history?”

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Houston Metro bus. Photo: TTMG.

ICYMI: Metro's Moves and Other News from November 17-22

As Metro continues to re-imagine our transit system, the board came down this week in favor of measures that would increase ridership rather than expand coverage: “After lengthy discussion, the board voted to recommend to its planning staff that 80 percent of resources should be put toward the goal of getting more people on the bus” (KUHF).

Metro also decided that it can’t afford to build any of the versions of the Central Station transit hub that were drawn up for the design competition that Metro held back in 2012 — not even the design by Snøhetta, which had been rather quietly declared the winner: “[B]oard members instead chose the cheaper option of spending $1.05 million to build a basic canopy. . . . ‘This has been mismanaged from the get-go, and there cannot be situations where things are not budgeted fully,’ chairman Gilbert Garcia said during a board meeting. ‘This is precisely why we get criticism.'” (Houston Chronicle; further analysis on Swamplot.)

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