PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston March 2024

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 76 of 131

B LAFFER ART MUSEUM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON (1973, renovated 2012): Over its first 50 years, the Blaffer Art Museum — named in honor of the late Sarah Campbell Blaffer — has transformed itself. What began as a teaching institution built on major promised works in the Blaffer family's collection has become Houston's most prestigious public university museum and a premier non-collecting institution, organizing exhibitions of world-renowned international contemporary artists. A decade ago, the Blaffer commissioned WORKac to complete a gut renovation and reconceptualization of its building. A new entry, an irregular quadrilateral filled with light, protrudes from the formerly blank public-facing wall, and is further accentuated by a dramatic triangular concrete "wallumn" (wall/ column). Blaffer's engagement in a global art dialogue, involvement with community organizations, and award-winning redesign are credited with increasing attendance fivefold. Panhandle. The challenge awards dinner "for free" to any brave diner who can finish a 4.5-pound steak (with all the trimmings) within an hour. Contestants are seated on a raised center stage in a vast banquet hall so the timed gluttony can be in full view. More than 10,000 have won to date. Nine times as many have failed. E D RU S C H A' S STA N DA R D STATION, AMARILLO, TEXAS (1963): Oklahoma City-born artist Ed Ruscha often passed Standard Stations on the way from his hometown to Los Angeles on Route 66. He created a monumental painting, Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas, by dramatically foreshortening the composition of a banal black-and-white photograph of one of these ubiquitous stations, then later made prints based on the painting. The image transforms a commonplace service station on America's Road of Dreams, the same route taken by migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, into a mysterious looming presence. ELLIS COUNTY COURTHOUSE, Waxahachie (1895, restored 2003, 2019): James Michener described this Romanesque Revival edifice as "a fairy tale palace … replete with battlements and turrets and spires … and miniature castles in CAMBRIDGE TOWER, Austin (1965): Known as a landmark of luxury from its inception nearly 60 years ago, this 15-story residential tower standing between the UT campus and the State Capitol is one of Austin's most significant mid-century modern buildings. In a then-sleepy city dominated by university students and state employees, Cambridge Tower targeted a new market: those interested in an urbane modern lifestyle. The structure combined the geometric shapes of the new International Style with stripped- down Neoclassical columns and arches, elements softened by decorative concrete-block terraces nodding playfully to the Mediterranean climate of Central Texas. This Thomas Edward Stanley II-designed building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. F IRST NATIONAL BANK TOWER, D a l l a s ( 1 9 6 5 ) ; T H O M P S O N DA L L AS (2020): The luxury Thompson Dallas hotel was unveiled in Downtown Dallas in 2020 in The National building, the former First National Bank Tower designed by George Dahl and Thomas Stanley in 1965. This rescue of one of the city's most important modernist structures by preservation- minded developer Todd Interests was the largest adaptive reuse project in the history of Texas (Merriman Architects). The $460 million restoration included preservation of 17,555 hand-cut exterior marble panels sourced from the Battle of Marathon site in Greece. In 1965, the 52-story skyscraper was the tallest west of the Mississippi and attracted powerful tenants, including the Dallas Petroleum Club, a private hangout for elite oilmen such as H.L. Hunt and Clint Murchison Sr. the air." Of architect James Riely Gordon's 19 courthouses in Texas, Ellis County's hall of justice is considered his masterpiece. In the early 2000s, under then- Governor George Bush's Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, systems were updated but concealed, and the massive third- level balcony (capacity 275), last used to announce the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde, was restored. This imposing stone structure also played a cameo in 1984's Places in the Heart, set in Waxahachie, which earned Sally Field an Oscar. JAMES RAMBIN RON SHIPP Cambridge Tower (Continued) 75

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - PaperCity Houston March 2024