Texas Architect May/June 2015: Color

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Welch 2.0 by Ben Koush Project Bayou Residence, Houston Client Private Architecture Firm Content Architecture Design Team Jesse Hager AIA; Heather Rowell;

Seth Borland; Eric Hughes Photographers Peter Molick and Nick Johnson

72 Texas Architect

5/6 2015

In Houston, no architectural monuments are sacred. The city’s architectural environment is characterized by its metabolic rate of change; buildings are continually being demolished and replaced, or dramatically reshaped. In fact, it often seems that the more architecturally distinguished a building is, the more susceptible it is to change. Case in point: Content Architecture’s recently completed, radical reconfiguration of the former John Welsh House (1972) in a posh residential pocket just north of the Galleria shopping center. John Welsh, born in Philadelphia, went to boarding school in Rhode Island and graduated from Princeton. In 1952, after a stint at Shell Oil, he founded Welsh Oil & Gas. Welsh and his wife, Phoebe Cook, were exceedingly proper — a characteristic which may have affected their choice of architect. The man they ultimately selected to design their sprawling, 8,000-sf single-level home was Frank D. Welch, FAIA, a

Texan who had the “right manner” to appeal to the peripatetic Texas oilmen and ranchers who made up the bulk of his clients during the early years of his career. Houston architect and former colleague Anderson Todd, FAIA, describes Welch as cosmopolitan, engaging, and able to tell “New Yorky” jokes. At the same time, he was a native son of small-town Paris, Texas and remained deeply committed to regional architectural expression. Welch honed his craft in the offices of another master of regional modernism, O’Neil Ford, FAIA, for several years in the late 1950s before striking out and opening his own small firm in Midland in 1959. Over the course of his more than 50-year career, Welch consistently and creatively incorporated traditional building materials and forms into the modern buildings he produced. That work earned him renown. In a special, 1978,

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