top of page

Published Writings 7 - as referred to by *


HOUSTON an architectural guide

With Perspecta 12 and the Lou Kahn book behind me, I was approached to produce the 1972 AIA Convention Guidebook.

The "Senior" AIA/Houston Chapter Publication Board Members remembered when Frank Lloyd Wright received the 1948 AIA Gold Medal at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel (see Published Works 6 TEXAS ARCHITECT - Nov-Dec 1979 cover; "CLICK" to Link), when they were the then "Young Guard". They wished to memorialize work by Houston Architects, especially their own Firms, whereas I (and the "new Young Guard" Members of the Committee) wanted to show the range of buildings in the City, "As It Really Was", regardless of who might be a 'designer'. Quite an 'interesting' experience . . . [see Letters below]


The Guide ultimately challanged assumptions about: 


(Also see Published Works 12 [The Museums of Fine Arts, Houston "CLICK" to Link]) regarding the politics of the design and production of the Guide, as nay-sayers did not believe the vision would be realized in time . . . so I agreed to make the Gift to AIA Attendees the same size.

While the Guide was WHITE and REDthe MFA,H book was BLACK and SILVER.

'CLICK' on images for Caption and to review in Sequence.

I was asked to write a "Pre-Quel" cover story in the national AIA Journal; in it, I tried to make it clear that Houston was at an important moment in its evolution, but also presented an environmental/historical/social series of challenges to Architects directed to the younger generation who wanted to be relevant in a professional context both serving and questioning their mission not only as "mirrors" of Society, but more so as "beacons" to lead in defining the physical environment.

"CLICK" each image below to see enlarged

As a result of publication, the Rice Design Alliance created a series of Houston tours led by students, which cited "Another look at the city and its architecture, gleaming multi-use centers, changing neighborhoods, freeways and strips, high-brow and kinky, all creating a feeling of continual contrast".

Having done Houston Guide, and worked with establishing The Houston Architecture Archive, Houston Public Library,

my collection of miniature buildings had been on exhibit and underscored my interest in illustrating Popular Concepts

                                                                               as shown in 'facsimile'                                                                                     

INTRODUCTION: Design/Production Team; Contents; Acknowledgements; Foreword; Essay; Afterword

One of the 15 Sections of the Guide is represented in Reproduction, from the map with buildings located, an essay on the Area, photographs chosen to illustrate "reality", and what are now known as "thumbnails" of the building, dates, address and designers. 

The Social Strata are reflected in the sequence, based on the geography of the radial/'wagon wheel' form of the City, from center to outlying area.

As such, the more 'funky' Inner-City areas naturally came first; Area EIGHT was interesting, because it included a variety of discreet sub-areas as well as institutions. Therefore, the 'opening' of the narrative prompted one River Oaks Lady to query, "Why did you show 'those people' first?". I replied that "They" were there first, as the site, directly adjacent to what is now 'Downtown' is the Fourth Ward, the original 'Freedmans Town', subsequent to the 19 June 1863 Emancipation Proclamation; 'Freedmans Town' was created in Texas on that date in 1865 (at the end of the Civil War) and celebrated as "June-teenth". The Subdivision of River Oaks, by contrast, wasn't established until the 1920s.

Three Guidebooks compared [in reverse Order]:

The Austin Chapter American Institute of Architects/Women's Architectural League issued a commemorative Bicentennial local city guide, Austin and its Architecture,in 1976, and the 1986 San Antonio Chapter, AIA guide,  A Guide to San Antonio Architecture having followed the 1972 HOUSTON an architectural guide [designed for the National AIA Convention].


Struck by certain graphic design, typography Font, and organizational 'similarities', I include a few juxtaposed  'comparisons' for your consideration. 

 “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”    Oscar Wilde


San Antonio
Austin and Houston
compared . . .

graphic format, and

An important image in HOUSTON an architectural guide [by photographer Bill Lukes] was taken of 2 Tourists at the Astrodome, holding a postcard, and Bill thought the 'picture within a picture' idea was terrific. They had asked for directions to The Galleria,and he said he'd tell them if they posed.

I suppose it was flattery that it appeared as an ad for Building Modern Houston, insenfitively reversed and cropped cutting the irony of the broad, empty parking lot. Bill used a 4x5 format, and was adament to keep the proportions, while most images in my graphic grid were based on 35mm format proportions, but we did it in any event, as a creative exception. 

Design Intentions/Solutions/Comparisons between Three Guides
bottom of page