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E x t r e m e S o l u t i o n s HOuston 2 Texas Tech urban studio takes ideas for recurrent flooding to extreme b y M a r y A l i c e T o r r es - M a c D o n a l d I n 1836, shortly after Texas won its independence from Mexico, two New York real estate developers, John and Augustus Allen, claimed just over 6,600 acres as the site of Houston. The site, located at the confluence of the Buffalo and White Oak bayous, is where Houston’s first port, known as Allen’s Landing, opened for business in 1841. The Allen brothers wrote about the crystal clear waters and how the abundant natural resource was certain to position the settlement for future growth and prosperity. Little did they realize what a tremendous impact water would have on the Houston we know today. Recently, graduate students in the Houston Studio + Practicum at Texas Tech University’s College of Architecture explored the issue of Houston’s recurrent flooding and investigated potential design solutions for the nation’s fourth largest metropolis and the only major city 7 / 8 2 0 1 0 in the U.S. without zoning. The results were intended as conceptual starting points for further studio exploration and application through a new intensive one-year urban design studio. The program provides an opportunity for students to spend their final year of education studying complex urban conditions. For the next two years, the research-based studio will concentrate on understanding existing conditions in Houston, dissecting current practices, and developing ideas for solutions as they relate to water. Houston is known as a city of extremes—from its lack of zoning to its intensely hot and muggy summers, to its frequent battles with flood waters. Currently, these waters are managed in a variety of ways using roadside continued on page 25 t e x a s a r c h i t e c t 23

Texas Architect July/August 2010: Extreme Design

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