Friday, October 26, 2007

Houston Streets 8, part 2

Readers know I like modern houses (although I am critical of them as well). In Memorial, it's rare to find a really top-notch modern house. But here are a few that I liked.

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This one is up on Voss Park. I liked the variously-angled roofs and the horizontal-vertical contrast in the windows.

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Thus one, way down south on Kirwick, looks more like what you expect from a modern house, with odd, seemingly arbitrary angles and features. It's a little hard to see in this photo, but there is a cool little balcony that is shaped like an acute isosceles triangle.

UPDATE: Houston Architecture Info Forum poster BenH identifies this house as "a 70's design by Phillips & Peterson."

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It wouldn't be a blog post about Memorial if I weren't talking about McMansions. This house on Willowbend is what I call a McMansion larva. You can't have a McMansion without tearing down the house that used to sit on that lot. Now it may be that I am being unfair. Maybe the new house being built here will be of a size appropriate for the lot and the neighborhood . . . Nah.

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Now, if you are going to build a McMansion, like this one Marsha (just North of Beinhorn), it's probably a good idea to have an entrance way that doesn't look like the outline of an enormous erect penis. Unless that's the effect you were going for, of course.

One thing that has interested me a lot, but that I never get to see, is what people's backyards look like. Especially those houses that back right into Buffalo Bayou. The most valuable houses in Houston back onto the bayou, so one can reasonably expect some large, fancy lawns. But there are also the engineering challenges of making sure your yard (or house) doesn't slide down the mud bank into the bayou. I was able to observe a couple of bayou-adjacent yards from the bridge over the bayou at Voss.
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This house, on Magnolia Bend, deals with the issue of the sharply sloping bank of the bayou by terracing. You can see that the pool is lower than the house, for example.

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This Hunter's Ridge house also has terracing, but here it appears to be more decorative than functional, and the lawn is sharply sloped as it heads down to the bayou.

One thing I've loved about the Villages is the multitude of pedestrian cut-throughs. The area is very park-poor, but at least they have ways for jogger and walkers (and mischievious teens) to get around without walking along major arterials.
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This walkway connects Timberglenn with Trail's End, and thus provides a way for walkers to get from Hedwig Lane to Voss without going on Memorial or Beinhorn.

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This shady path connects Wilding (a street full of mansions) to Marchmont. The map indicates that it crosses Soldier's Creek, but there is no indication that it does. It may be that Soldier's Creek is buried in a pipe at this location. Or maybe the map is just wrong--it wouldn't be the first time.

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This seems like a cute little cut-through on the face of it. It connects the south end of River Bend with the little shopping center on Voss just north of San Felipe. But I guess something bad must have happened because they did this to the cut-through:
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There's nothing especially interesting about this house on Creekwood (north of Beinhorn), but I thought the color scheme--white bricks, red wood, and slate-blue shingles--was quite nice.

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I like houses with ponds. Let's face it--people don't use their front yards for much. If they entertain outdoors, it's a barbeque or pool party in the back. So since the front yard isn't all that important, why not put something purely decorative in it? I like modern sculpture best, but few in Memorial are quite that daring. But ponds are also very nice.

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Of course, you could always put non-modern sculptures in your front yard, as these folks on Fleetway did. The pair show two girls sitting quietly and reading, and two boys climbing a tree. Not only is the sculpture traditional in style, it reinforces traditional stereotypes.

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Also on Fleetway is this bizarre alternative to the teardown-and-build-a-McMansion ethos. These folks evidently felt that their already existing ranch house was too small (it is actually huge--I couldn't fit the whole thing into the frame). So they added on a two-storey addition. Now the addition is actually quite attractive in its way, but it doesn't match with the original house at all! I shudder to say it, but it might have been better to have torn down the whole house and just rebuilt from scratch.

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The only commercial location photographed on this ride was the rebus at The Mason Jar, a restaurant that has been operating on the Katy Freeway (at Clifford) for decades. They used to change their rebuses frequently, but this one looks old and faded. So maybe they don't change it anymore. Can anyone tell what this rebus says?

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This is my favorite street name from this trip. It seems like the most personal. Unfortunately, Historic Houston Streets provides no clue as to its origin.

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Finally, I wish you all happy Halloween and leave you with this superb hand-made Halloween graveyard located on Lanecrest. The epitaphs are rather witty--it's worth a trip to check them out.

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