2014 Initiatives for Houston Grant Winners

UH students explore shotgun house in Fifth Ward with Professor Jason Logan. Photo: Joshua Hollie.

Two $5,000 Rice Design Alliance Initiatives for Houston grants will be awarded for projects proposed by a faculty member and an undergraduate student at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston. For 15 years, RDA grants have helped students and faculty at UH, the Rice School of Architecture, the School of Architecture at Prairie View A&M University, and the Department of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University to develop and implement projects shaping both Houston’s built environment and our understanding of it.

Guest jurors awarded this year’s grants to Gregory Marinic, Assistant Professor and Director of Interior Architecture, and Giovanni Peña, a fourth-year student in environmental design.

Marinic’s proposal, “Fifth Ward Renaissance,” focuses on the rehabilitation of a “poetically crumbling” shotgun house into a community “e-Reading Room,” he writes, or education center. The $5,000 grant will help to fund necessary structural improvements to the building as well as an interior overhaul, including the installation of an exhibition of photographs and archival documents chronicling the history of the Fifth Ward. Marinic’s students will collaborate with Pastor Robert Thomas, Jason Logan, and third-year Interior Architecture students, experimenting with digital fabrication technologies and engaging in interdisciplinary research, while working directly with the Fifth Ward CDC, Olivet Missionary Baptist Church, and the UH Community Design Resource Center led by Susan Rogers.

Peña’s project, “Shaping the ‘Rurban’ Landscape,” proposes to elaborate on an experience he had during a landscape competition at “The Hill” along Sims Bayou. Peña aims to draw community attention to the 54-foot geologic curiosity and disregarded 280-acre detention basin around it, shaping the site into a recreation and educational area for Sunnyside and South Acres/Crestmont. He proposes to continue clearing illegally dumped trash, while constructing sculptures at park entrances and developing nature trails, meditation areas, and educational gardens for students.

Guests jurors included David Calkins, Regional Managing Principal at Gensler; Kristi M. Grizzle, Senior Associate at Walter P Moore; Willard Holmes, Associate Director of Administration, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Andy Icken, Chief Development Officer, Office of the Mayor, City of Houston; and Demitra Thomloudis, Adjunct Instructor at Houston Community College.

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