2013 Initiatives for Houston Winner Announced!

Horses gallop through Montana-sized utility corridors that crisscross Houston.

RDA is pleased to announce the winner of the fourteenth annual “Initiatives for Houston” grant program, which funds research, study, and problem-solving around Houston’s built environment. Gordon Wittenberg, Professor of Architecture at Rice University, won the grant prize this year in the amount of $4,200 with his proposal entitled “Linear Parks for Houston.”

This year’s jury members included Jereck Boss, Principal, The Office of James Burnett; Jay Crossley, Program Development and Research, Houston Tomorrow; and Lonnie Hoogeboom, Director of Planning & Design, Houston Management District and President of the Rice Design Alliance. The jury, who assessed proposals based on how they might contribute to the continued improvement of the Houston area, were very impressed with submitted projects.

Wittenberg’s proposal stood out to the jury. “Linear Parks” harkens such developments as New York City’s “Highline” and The Reading Viaduct in Philadelphia, by considering a practical and economical way for cities to acquire new parkland for an expanding urban population. Wittenberg claims that Houston has the highest number of utility, pipeline, and railroad easements—or right of ways— of any large urban area in the U.S. with 30% of this infrastructure being abandoned or underutilized. The project will identify and map the right of ways using a Geographical Information System and document the current use and ownership of the areas. Upon completion, the project will be presented to the Houston Parks Board for planning purposes and potential future use.

Initiatives for Houston has funded unique and Houston-centric projects for fourteen years now, including 2012 winning projects as University of Houston Professor Donna Kacmar’s directory of Houston-based fabricators, and Rice Wortham Fellow Bryony Roberts’ exhibition, “Lobby Urbanism” taking place now until

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