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Koush cautions in his closing words that “as Houstonians go about eradicating the city’s cultural legacy of modern architecture, these houses face a particularly grave danger.” Of the 15 houses documented in the catalogue, seven appear in the exhibit curated by designer Don Emmite and installed in Architecture Center Houston’s Walter P. Moore Gallery. To define the exhibit area within the open space of the gallery, Emmite used some of the gallery’s
props (i.e., rolling boxes) that he painted either charcoal or cantaloupe, which he describes as “a popular 1950s color making a comeback.” The layout works very well. As in the original Neuhaus House, the anticipation of the view is hidden upon entry by the location of solid walls (two of the boxes) bearing exhibition narratives. From here the main exhibit opens eastward in a uncoiling path, beginning with Neuhaus’s own house.
The Neuhaus House 1949-50 is certainly the largest and most refined of those shown. Original drawings, on loan from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, sit in protective cases. Stunning in their clarity and preservation, Neuhaus’s drawings are reminiscent of a time when architects enjoyed making beautiful drawings by hand. They are composed—precise, black, hard lines for the house contrast with decidedly paler, free-hand lines depicting the landscape design. A vintage firm brochure sits with watercolor sketches by the landscape architect C.C. Fleming and an inkwash rendering by Neuhaus’s partner, Herbert Cowell, FAIA,who at 93 remains an accomplished watercolorist. Of certain interest are the construction documents displayed. Several references made in the essay’s texts relay how carefully Koush examined these in researching Neuhaus’s work. The sheets are as carefully composed as the buildings, reserving generous amounts of white (paper) framing each detail, revealing both the care that went into the construction information and the level of maintenance eventually bequeathed to the owners. Models by University of Houston architectural students further illustrate the Neuhaus House, the Detering Bay House 1955-56, and the Letzerich Ranch House 1962-63. Each house is described in large-scale v ig net tes—black-and-white photog raphs accurately depicting the house as the owner occupied it, often from their seated point-ofview. Emmite eliminated color from the photographs (when it existed) to unify the variety of the houses selected. The effect is successful and very readable. Graphically, the exhibit is quite sophisticated and achieves the serene experience that Emmite sought, which evokes the feeling of the actual houses. The nonprofit Houston Mod is dedicated to promoting knowledge and the appreciation of modern architecture and design in Houston and Texas. Through education efforts such as this exhibit and book, Houston Mod encourages “careful preservation and conscientious rehabilitation” of Houston’s modern architectural legacy. It is a sobering fact to note that, of the 15 houses documented, only eight remain. Val Glitsch, FAIA, is a TA contributing editor.
Hugo V. Neuhaus, Jr., Residential Architecture, 1948-1966 remains at Architecture Center Houston through Sept. 28. Admission is free.
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Published on Oct 18, 2011
Published on Oct 18, 2011
Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...