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GREEN STRATEGY DIAGRAM 1 NATURAL LIGHT RECEPTICAL 2 RAISED FLOOR 3 RAIN WATER COLLECTION 4 RAIN WATER HARVESTING TROUGHS 5 VEGETATED ROOF 6 TRELLIS

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Unfortunately, bureaucracy seems to have trumped the architects’ design, as many of these programmatic elements have not been used as

A city ordinance requires that 1.75 percent of the budget for public buildings be used for art. This allowed for the many installations created by 10 artists that one encounters throughout the building. intended. Plan reviewers insisted that customers come to them, so now, the upstairs waiting rooms, purposely modest in size, are often crammed to capacity while the expansive public spaces on the first floor as well as the race track kiosks are mostly empty. The fire stairs, which could have been used by customers to move from floor to floor, remain unused because they are secured by one-way doors. According to Icken, the two-year-old facility is still a work in progress, and the city has a task group looking at ways to improve its functionality. of the warehouse, Studio Red Architects sought to maintain the integrity and character of the Butler BrothersUnion Terminal building. The architects cleaned and repointed the brick masonry as needed, chose windows that were reminiscent of the original ones, and exposed the structure and finishes on the interior. The second and third floors of the building were added to the original structure some 20 years after it was built, and they were left uncovered as documentation of distinct construction technologies — which is intended to work in tandem with the educational purpose of the Green Building Resource Center. The sensitive rehabilitation has been recognized by the city, and the Houston Permitting Center is currently pending approval for historic landmark designation. A city ordinance requires that 1.75 percent of the budget for public buildings be used for art. This allowed for the many installations created by 10 artists that one encounters throughout the building. Highlights include Dick Wray’s exuberant, Matisse-like steel cutouts wrapping part of the south elevator. Another is Serena Lin Bush’s video installation at the bottom of the interior stair in the basement. Similar to Diller + Scofidio’s iconic Slow House project of 1990, these monitors, linked to cameras on the roof, display the current exterior weather conditions in a section of the building with no direct exterior access, raising questions about the authenticity of physical perception. These design tactics — rigorously researched sustainability, deference to the industrial character of the old building, and the installation of an intensely local public art program — mostly follow what is by now standard operating procedure for public buildings in the United States. In Houston, a dearth of older buildings seems to prompt a conservative approach when reusing them. It might have been interesting to see a more radical transformation, considering that this building is now serving a totally different purpose than that for which it was originally built. Despite this, though, the City is to be commended for the conscientious reuse of one of Houston’s existing buildings that otherwise would probably have been torn down. One can only hope that this very public project serves also as an example for the city’s private developers to follow. As part of the adaptive reuse

Ben Koush is currently writing a book for the University of Texas Press about modern architecture in Houston.

5/6 2013

Texas Architect 53

Texas Architect May/June 2013: Preservation  

This issue on historic preservation illustrates themany facets of the field, including restoration,rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse.

Texas Architect May/June 2013: Preservation  

This issue on historic preservation illustrates themany facets of the field, including restoration,rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse.