Texas Architect May/June 2012: Urban Design
This “Urban Design” edition’s four features do not deal with urban design as typified by comprehensive plans for large swaths of urban environment. Rather, they represent four works of architecture that, by virtue of where they are, play important roles in a broader urban context.
24 Texas Architect 9/10 2011 Paperwork veloCity Peter Muessig, Rice School of Architecture Rice School of Architecture student Peter Muessig has been recognized as a winner in the “Conceptual Projects” category of the 2012 AIA Houston design awards program for his entry entitled “veloCity: Mapping Houston on the Diagonal” (see full awards story on page 18). The project envisions a canopy structure — termed a “velo-duct” — that provides Houston cyclists with a traversable surface threading along Buffalo Bayou into Downtown Hous- ton, ultimately terminating in the public plaza in front of City Hall. According to the entry description, the structure of the velo-duct can act as a standalone system or graft onto the struc- tures of existing buildings and infrastructure. The result is a landscape that regards the bicycle as the primary means of accessing and experiencing the city while creating new spatial experiences and recasting old ones from a new perspective astride a bicycle. Spatial interven- tions occupy the urban scraps discarded by a car-centric society. Drafting off the shadows cast by vehicular habitation, a social infrastructure emerges that elevates the presence of bicycle culture in Houston. The velo-duct concept emerges from Mues- sig’s ardent support of cycling as a viable mode of current-day urban transportation: “Do not mistake the bicycle as a symbol of hardship or compromise. It is a liberation. An unacknowl- edged extension of our American ideals. The embodiment of individual will and imagination in a simple machine. The distinct mobility and perception experienced in motion differenti- ate the cyclist’s city from the institutionalized urban experiences of the driver or pedestrian. For the cyclist a new map of the city emerges. Constructed not of grids, but the improvisation and judgment required to inhabit the diagonal landscape. The diagonal cannot be fabricated or constructed. It emerges through the use and appropriation of space. A responsive architecture must both support the needs of cyclists and chal- lenge their unique spatiality.”