Photo: Paul Hester.

Cite 94: The Beautiful Periphery

The new issue of Cite (94) has been mailed and is available at the Brazos Bookstore, CAMH, MFAH, River Oaks Bookstore, and other stores. The issue was guest edited by Susan Rogers and Gregory Marinic. Below is their introduction to the issue.

In this special issue of Cite — The Beautiful Periphery — we explore the contemporary megalopolis of Houston beyond Loop 610. Sometimes derided, though largely cast off and ignored by the powerful and elite, the increasingly diverse periphery is home to most Houstonians. Economies of scale, islands, and spines define this landscape and our mundane, everyday places give it form. Subdivisions, apartment complexes, strip malls, big box stores, and shopping malls — these pieces or fragments aggregate without seemingly adding up to anything more than discontinuous parts. At the same time, slowly and nearly indiscernibly, these places are appropriated and transformed into something beautiful.

A "heat" map showing the density of multifamily housing in Houston. Graphic: Rose Lee.

A “heat” map showing the density of multifamily housing in Houston. Graphic: Rose Lee.

Houston’s periphery is layered and imperfect — yet it is also organic and authentic. Our goal has been to explore this periphery and methods of its production, appropriation, and adaptation. Albert Pope, Gus Sessions Wortham Professor of Architecture at Rice University, shares his insights on the megalopolis and forces that shape our contemporary cities — concluding that “[i]t is not possible to project a viable tomorrow if we remain willfully blind to the urbanism that we produce today.” Susan Rogers, Director of the Community Design Resource Center and Assistant Professor at the University of Houston, investigates 1970s-era multifamily housing in Houston — the good, the bad, and the ugly — through the lens of change and adaptation. Natalia Beard of SWA Group shares a visually compelling and rich proposal for the flea markets along Airline Drive. Joseph Altshuler argues that the typical backyard fence is a potent instrument of organizational power and visible manifestation of the “cul-de-sac city,” sharing a series of playful proposals to transform this element of division into a point of connection. Judith K. De Jong, architect, urbanist, and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture, explores the mutations among urban and suburban strip malls and big box store typologies, while Allyn West gets up close to criticize the new Walmart of Wayside. Capturing the unexpected beauty of the periphery, photographs by Paul Hester are intermingled throughout this issue.

Houston — created incrementally and informally without a master plan or a grand vision other than its highways — reflects the human needs, daily routines, and conventional desires of its people. We must come to terms with the complexities, challenges, and futures of this landscape as a means to build a better city. We propose that, in fact, amid such seemingly adverse conditions, resilience, innovation, and adaptation are already driving transformative change.


Table of Contents

Citings

RDA News and Calendar
OffCite Highlights: Sunday Streets HTX Is Born by Raj Mankad

Features

An Interview with Albert Pope: When talking about Houston, the traditional terms of architecture quickly fall apart.
By Susan Rogers

The [Beautiful] Projects: Contradiction and Complexity
By Susan Rogers

Airline Market Mile: Inclusive Design for Growth
By Natalia Beard

On the Fence: Great Fences Make Great Neighbors
By Joseph Altschuler

Sub/urban Mutations: Developers inside the Loop could learn a thing or two from what’s happening outside the Loop
By Juditih K. De Jong

Walmart Transcends the Dumb Box: Just Not in Houston
By Allyn West

MFAH Selects

The Coroner’s Report: A Review of The Architecture of Art Museums: A Decade of Design: 2000-2010
By David Heymann

Hindcite: The Mixed Use Future of Now
By Carrie Schneider

Photo: Paul Hester.

Photo: Paul Hester.

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    3 Comments

    1. 1

      […] essay appears in a slightly different form in the new issue of Cite, “The Beautiful Periphery,” guest edited by Susan Rogers and Gregory Marinic. The issue is available for purchase at […]


    2. 2

      […] essay appears in a slightly different form in the new issue of Cite, “The Beautiful Periphery.” The issue is available for purchase at Brazos Bookstore and River Oaks Bookstore, as well […]


    3. 3

      […] review appears in the new issue of Cite, “The Beautiful Periphery.” The issue is available for purchase at Brazos Bookstore and River Oaks Bookstore, as well […]