Ephemeral City: Cite Looks at Houston

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Barrie Scardino, William F. Stern, Bruce C. Webb
University of Texas Press, Dec 1, 2003 - Architecture - 315 pages
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Praise for Cite: The Architecture and Design Review of Houston:

"I find Cite to be thorough, imaginative, always stimulating, and responsive to the diversity of the Houston community. I hope to see it continue—I hope to see it flourish."

—Larry McMurtry

"Cite is one of the liveliest and most interesting journals on architecture and urbanism that is being produced today."

—Robert Bruegmann, Professor and Chair, Art History Department and School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago

"Cite has become an important national publication, for it situates local and regional culture within the context of national and global issues. Thus it provides an antidote to provincialism, on the one hand, and to excessively abstract globalism on the other. Put differently, Cite proves that local concerns need not be parochial, while national or global trends have multiple variations."

—Gwendolyn Wright, Professor, Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, Columbia University

"In my judgment, this magazine is competitive with any in the United States that focuses on architecture and the built environment."

—Kenneth T. Jackson, Jacques Barzun Professor of History and the Social Sciences, Columbia University

"I know of few other publications in America that have so consistently, and at such a perceptive and sophisticated level, promoted high quality design as a mission of education and improvement.... I am devoted to it and read every issue with great interest, though I live a half continent away."

—Laurie D. Olin, FASLA, Hon. AIA, FAAR, Practice Professor of Landscape Architecture, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania

Built around characteristic features of modern life such as rapid change, built-in obsolescence, indeterminacy, media orientation, a culture of style, and instant gratification, Houston is an ephemeral city, hard to pin down and understand. Its lack of zoning (Houston is the only major city in America without it) and a burgeoning population that doubles every generation have created a new urban paradigm, where displacements of traditional patterns of stability and urban ritual are now the norm.

Since 1982, Cite: The Architectural and Design Review of Houston has explored the nature of Houston's evolution as an urban place by publishing commissioned articles by nationally known writers and architectural historians and high quality photography. This volume brings together twenty-five exceptional articles from Cite's first twenty years, along with 224 black-and-white photographs, maps, and plans. The book is divided into three sections: "Idea of the City," edited by Bruce C. Webb, "Places of the City," edited by Barrie Scardino, and "Buildings of the City," edited by William F. Stern. The sections are introduced with new essays written by the editors to provide cohesion for the anthology and commentary on where Houston might be going in the twenty-first century. Most articles are followed by a brief update and bibliography of related articles published in Cite.

The editors chose these articles to explore the developmental history and architecture of a flat, sprawling, free-spirited city that is impossible to capture through any one episode or explain through any one place. With a diversity of voices and a selection that includes both narrow and broad topics, the volume constitutes a collage that captures the essence of a remarkable place—inchoate, patchwork, full of youthful vigor, favorable to private enterprise, and one of the world's most fascinating cities.


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Public Space in Houston
Maintaining the Status Flow
Houstons Ring around the Beltway
Suburbia Deserta
Introduction Barrie Scardino
Wielding the HACHet at Allen Parkway Village
The First Generation
A History of Hermann Park
Houstons Academic Enclaves
Much Ledoux about Nothing? New College of Architecture for
Houstons Natural House
Howard Barnstone 19231987
A Romantic Urbanism
Mies van der Rohe and Houston Architecture
Conocos Corporate Headquarters by Kevin Roche
The AstrodomeTurns 25

The Houston Museum District
TheTwombly Gallery and the Making of Place
The HoustonTheater District
Introduction William F Stern
Fair or Foul?
Deconstructing the Rice
About the Authors

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About the author (2003)

Barrie Scardino, a Houston resident from 1979 to 1998, is an architectural writer now living in New York City. She was a founding editor of Cite and, from 1996 to 1998, its managing editor. In addition to writing numerous articles and reports on Texas architecture, she coauthored Houston’s Forgotten Heritage and Clayton’s Galveston.

William F. Stern practices architecture in Houston, where he is a principal with Stern and Bucek Architects. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. He was a founding editor of Cite and has frequently served as chairman of its editorial board.

Bruce C. Webb is Professor of Architecture and former Dean of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston. He was a founding editor of Cite and has frequently served as chairman of its editorial board. Webb is coeditor of three volumes: Constancy and Change in Architecture, Urban Forms, Suburban Dreams, and The Culture of Silence.

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