I knew from the start that within our site, I would focus on “green” or vacant space and develop

that land before considering demolition. The concepts that I focused on in the sketch planning portion of this project design includes looking at existing buildings that are in good condition and/or occupied. An important part was to examine buildings associated with artists, galleries, their studios, and the businesses that support them, and that they support, and preserve them as much as possible. Students, artists, and young professionals appeared to dominate the area so understanding how they can use the area and what they needed was necessary for appropriate vision planning. Next I examined areas that could not be touched such as the Justice District, or Alcatraz, the University of Houston Downtown campus buildings, the location deemed as the next site for the Metro bus barn, and finally the land for the Hardy Yards Development. To connect any new development I propose and existing/designated future sites, I worked with the concept of circuits utilizing major boulevards, like the one that services the University of Houston Downtown (Main Street), and ground level streets such as McKee Avenue that, currently, do not function as fast paced avenues like the Elysian Viaduct or portions of San Jacinto Street. The idea was to re-establish these avenues as thoroughfares for light vehicular traffic, bicycle paths, and pedestrian. Since both of those streets run almost parallel through the warehouse district, a few connector streets were defined adding in pedestrian active sidewalks and a bike lane or two depending on the existing wideness of the streets. The idea is that by making these infrastructure improvements, it will encourage continuing development as businesses or residences move in and out of the area, ideally improving the experience of the district. Since Buffalo Bayou is the biggest feature that has influenced the area since its inception, I will also work to tie future bicycle routes with existing or proposed routes made by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership. Only through the exchange of sketching, observations, and discoveries did these concepts come to light. I was also forced to look at addressing the railroad that runs through the middle of our site several times daily. Instead of shying away from it, I worked on utilizing it to showcase it as a feature of the warehouse district. My design would also prefer smaller building heights to maintain the warehouse district as the hip, cool, urban, character filled, non-downtown, non-highrise filled area that it is. Mid or low-rise buildings also help transition the area from predominantly low-rise warehouses into eventual mid-rise complexes and as developers purchase available land, the area may continue to grow vertically as well as in density. The area that I would focus on includes most of the concepts that I have discussed as well as a portion of it as it relates to the bayou: a major feature of the city of Houston. To be more clear, the area includes Elysian Viaduct, the railroad tracks that run nearly perpendicular to it, and some of the surrounding buildings programmed for residential and retail space. It can be seen in the images to the left. My development proposal will function as the rediscovery of an area that is vintage yet cool, and connects old building materials and characteristics with new design. It will be the incentive and spark for continuing development. It will also be the connector between the green space of the bayou and the built form of the Warehouse District.

NARRATIVE

05-01-2011

R+D

C. SERRANO-PICHE

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