RDA News & Notes

Category: Rice Design Alliance

Hand Re-Make the Cite 93 Cover

A map showing cancer risk published on OffCite.org has gotten quite a bit of attention on Swamplot, the Houston Chronicle, KHOU, and CW39 NewsFix.

Members of Rice Design Alliance and subscribers to Cite were the first to receive the map. It was embossed on the cover with no explanation. It feels like Braille. Many readers caress the page, experiencing it as a beautiful and ambiguous representation of the Houston region. Only when you turn to the Table of Contents page do you learn that it represents heightened cancer risk associated with exposure to air toxins.

The process behind the emboss is fascinating. PH Design, the graphic designers of Cite 93, carefully produced the map based on data from the EPA. Each shaded area was traced so that the various patterns could be placed. The printer, Specialty Bindery, was consulted throughout the process. Once the design was complete, a specialist crafted a brass plate to create the emboss. The plate was mounted on a Heidelberg offset press.

The result is a form that you can use to reproduce the map by taping a piece of paper over it and rubbing the page with charcoal. See the video below. You can make visible an invisible Houston.

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RDA Hometown Tour to Santiago, Chile

Chile: Land of a Thousand and One Sights
RDA 2014 Hometown International Tour
June 8-14, 2014

$3,600 pp/dbl

Chile’s distinct geography and remoteness is intensified by a set of unique landscape conditions that range from the world’s driest desert to the north to the incomparable Andes to the east, from the limitless Pacific Ocean to the west to the spellbinding fjords cascading all the way south to Tierra del Fuego. The Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia (1500-1553) founded Santiago in 1541 at what turned out to be an ideal location: close to the middle of the thinnest and longest country imaginable. Occupying the basin of this rich fertile valley, Santiago is the country’s strategic capital, cultural, political and financial center, as well as the largest metropolis with a population of close to 6 million people (in a country of 17 million people as per the 2012 census).

A significant watershed in Chile’s recent history was the election of Salvador Allende in 1970, the first democratically elected Marxist president, a short lived but cathartic moment for the country. Allende (1908-1973) was killed during a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet who ruled the country under a harsh and brutal dictatorship (1973-1990). Upon the demise of Pinochet’s regime the country ventured forward with the expeditious establishment of democratic institutions. This dramatic transformation was the result of timely political will aided by a similar will to develop important social, infrastructural, and cultural projects. Today Chile enjoys one of the most stable governments in the Americas, an emerging power in the region and beyond, with a growing economy and the benefits of a working democracy. Paralleling the changes of these last two decades, Chilean architects have received growing international attention, gaining the respect and admiration the world over for the outstanding quality, rigor, and inventiveness of their architecture.

Our trip to Santiago, and to such nearby cities as Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, will reveal the expansive architecture/urbanism of this singular and intriguing country. The one-week trip (June 8 – June 14) will bring us in contact with the country’s most notable architects such as Jose Cruz Ovalle, Mathias Klotz, Alejandro Aravena, Smiljan Radic, Cristian Undurraga, Felipe Assadi of Assadi and Pulido Architects, and Cecilia Puga, to name a few. Equally important is the exposure to the rich and multifarious life of this cosmopolitan metropolis by sampling an array of local experiences, including the food, music, and dynamic art scene. To that end we will have the opportunity to visit such landmarks as the National Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, the Plaza de La Moneda Cultural Center, recent faculty buildings and libraries designed for the Pontifical Catholic University and the Diego Portales University, progressive housing projects such as Edificio Gen, insightful mix-use developments such as Edificio Cruz de Sur, and the memorable Mestizo Restaurant, to name some of the architectural sites that we will visit during our stay in Chile. Other highlights include a visit to a private winery on the outskirts of Santiago, and to “Open City,” the celebrated experimental architectural project along the Pacific Ocean in Valparaiso, Chile’s second largest city.

The tour will be led by Carlos Jimenez and Stephen Fox, as well as local experts. To secure your reservation, please complete and return the registration form and the terms and conditions document with your deposit. Click here to see the trip’s itinerary. For more information contact Lynn Kelly at 713-256-3244 or lynnkellyrda@gmail.com.

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Additionally: Spring 2014 Architecture Tour

The 38th Annual Rice Design Alliance Architecture Tour will take place from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, and Sunday, March 30, 2014. Titled “Additionally,” this spring’s tour will take RDA members and their guests to eight Houston residences, dating from 1885 to 1964, that have been given substantial additions in recent years by local architecture firms. RDA has organized tours every year since 1975 to help Houstonians experience firsthand the most interesting works of architecture and landscape and interior design in the city. This March, tourgoers will see how local firms have increased the size, functional space, and use of the older residences, introduced technologically advanced building materials, and brought together contrasting architectural styles and periods.

Click here to view a custom map with photos of the houses and information about where you will be able to buy tickets and sign up for memberships.

And click here to buy your tickets!

The residences and firms responsible for the original house as well as the addition are below; all photos by Paul Hester.

707 Sabine
1885; 2000, Gary Eades; 2009, Janusz Design

216 Avondale
1918, Russell Brown Company; 2012, m+a architecture

3503 Audubon Place
1920; 2011, Interloop – Architecture

823 Peddie
1925, Sears Kit; 2007, Brett Zamore Design

1701 Colquitt
1925; 2011, Ben Koush & Associates

1810 Bissonnet
1927; 2002, Wittenberg Studio

5503 Sturbridge
1960, Marshall S. MacDougal; 2008, Dillon Kyle Architecture

5219 South Braeswood
1964, Arthur Steinberg; 2014, Stern + Bucek

The tour is open only to RDA members and their guests. RDA memberships begin at $45 and can be purchased during the tour at designated ticket-buying locations or in advance online and in person at the RDA office on the Rice University campus. Memberships purchased at the Student or Individual level include one complimentary ticket; memberships at the Household level and above include two. Ticket prices for current members and their guests are $25, and $15 for Student and Senior members.

The Rice Design Alliance is an AIA/CES Registered Provider of educational programs. For this tour, attendees will earn two Learning Units. Learning Units will be reported to CES Records on the member’s behalf. Registration at one house on the tour is required. Non-AIA members can pick up a Certificate of Completion to fulfill state MCE requirements.

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Now Open: Initiatives for Houston 2014

We are happy to begin accepting applications to our 15th annual grants program for students and faculty of the Rice School of Architecture, the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College 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.

The Rice Design Alliance will make separate awards of up to $5,000 each to a student winner(s) and a faculty winner(s).

Our Initiatives for Houston grants program focuses on Houston’s built environment, its history, present condition, and future development. A variety of regional projects are considered, including historic research, speculative studies, problem-solving and planning projects, and documentary studies of the conditions of the city and its architecture. Proposals are evaluated for their potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the city and/or the region.

Projects must describe a dissemination component, which can be in the form of a paper or manuscript, exhibit, video, or other presentation. In addition, the results of the project could be presented by the grantees in a public lecture or published in Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston. Awards of up to $5,000 are available for projects to be completed in one year. More than one proposal in each category, student or faculty, can be funded. Past award-winning proposals are available for review in the architecture libraries of the participating schools.

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

The total application must include:

  • Completed application.
  • A written proposal for the project (one to three pages), describing goals, expected outcomes, work plan, and schedule for the project, and a discussion of its significance. Applicants also should describe past work in the area of the proposed research.
  • Resume for each participant.
  • Students will need a faculty advisor and a letter of support.

  • A project budget (equipment such as computers, digital cameras, etc. may not be included).

Mail application and supporting materials to:
Rice University

Rice Design Alliance
MS-51 P.O. Box 1892

Houston, Texas 77251-1892

Click here to download an application! The deadline for applications is March 24, 2014. Awards will be announced on April 28, 2014.

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2013 Gala: LIVE FEED

Chris Shepherd, Brad Moore, Ceci Norman, Paul Petronella, and Mike Criss celebrate at the 2013 gala. Photo: Claudia Casbarian.

More than 900 people gathered on Saturday, November 9, for Live Feed, the 2013 Rice Design Alliance gala. Chaired by Betsy Strauch and Lonnie Hoogeboom, the gala honored an Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs, or OKRA, a group of energetic, like-minded restaurateurs who are recharging Houston’s nightlife and restoring historic buildings in core neighborhoods Montrose, Midtown, Houston Heights, Downtown, and the Museum District.

Guests mingled all evening at the Hilton Americas-Houston amidst 105 unique auction items. The auction, coordinated by Juliè Gauthier and Kelie Mayfield, included all-expenses-paid trips to Saint Sauvant, France; San Miguel, Mexico; and Washington, D.C.; unique handmade jewelry; wine chosen by OKRA member and PSA sommelier Justin Vann; and many singular local experiences: Tours of the Philip Johnson-designed Menil House, rides along Buffalo Bayou on the “Spirit of the Bayou” pontoon, and parties catered by OKRA establishments Anvil Bar & Refuge, Underbelly, The Pastry War, Grand Prize Bar, and Hay Merchant.

Also up for bid were 14 custom works of sculpture, ceramics, painting, and mixed media, resulting from inspired collaborations between Houston artists and OKRA members, organized by Judy Nyquist.

As the Next Level Band played jazz, guests moved into the ballroom. There, the gala environment committee, chaired by Chung Nguyen of MC2 Architects with assistance from Florence Tang and Karen Lantz, designed an ephemeral installation comprising thousands of strands of piano wire tipped with wheat and “planted” in white panels. Lit from below, the waist-high wheat swayed and gave the illusion that guests were wandering through a field toward their tables. Once seated, they enjoyed a four-course meal — with one course prepared specially by Underbelly chef and James Beard Award nominee Chris Shepherd, his famous Korean braised goat and dumplings.

After RDA board president Doug Combes welcomed guests and recognized the 25-year efforts of RDA executive director Linda Sylvan, OKRA president Bobby Heugel accepted the RDA Award for Design Excellence on behalf of the 21 OKRA member organizations. At the end of the night, guests took home complimentary okra-shaped sugar cookies, decorated with the OKRA logo, courtesy of Paul Petronella. Underwritten by Brochsteins, D.E. Harvey Builders, HOK, Haynes Whaley Associates, Inc., Walter P Moore, Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc., and many other generous donors, the gala brought in more than $520,000, which will support RDA’s educational programming and publication of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston.

Seen in the crowd were underwriters Larry and Charlotte Whaley; David Harvey and Mikki Hebl; Deborah Brochstein and Steven Hecht; Ray and Elaine Messer; John Marshall; Ben Crawford and Kathrin Brunner; RDA President Doug Combes with wife Lisa; Gala Chairs Lonnie Hoogeboom and Betsy Strauch; Fundraising Chair Dave Mueller; Auction chairs Juliè Gauthier and Kelie Mayfield; Environment Chair Chung Nguyen; Graphics Chair Craig Minor; OKRA members Bobby Heugel, Chris Shepherd, Justin Vann, Michael Burnett, Dawn Callaway, Miriam Carrillo, and Paul Petronella; RDA executive director Linda Sylvan with husband Dick; former Rice School of architecture deans John Casbarian with Natalye Appel; and Lars Lerup with Eva Sarraga.

If you’d like to view and purchase the Blacktie photographs from the gala, click here.

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RDA Announces Its 2014 Hometown Tours

San Diego-Tijuana: Architecture at the Edge
January 29 – February 2, 2014
$2,000 pp dbl; $2,510 single occupancy
Registration is closed

Santiago, Chile
June 8 – 14, 2014
Guided by Carlos Jimenez; click here for registration information!

Please join the Rice Design Alliance for a tour of San Diego, guided by architectural historian Stephen Fox with assistance from former RDA President and award-winning landscape architect Jim Burnett. The tour includes four nights in the luxurious US Grant Hotel downtown, dining at the Hotel Del Coronado, George’s on the Cove with its ocean view, and the Prado at Balboa Park, and a crossing into Tijuana, accompanied by Rene Peralta, a native of Tijuana and Director of Master of Science in Landscape Urbanism at Woodbury University in San Diego. To secure your reservation, please complete and return the registration form and the terms and conditions document with your deposit.

San Diego was founded in 1769 as a Franciscan mission to indigenous people and an accompanying Spanish presidio, both named for the Spanish saint, Diego de Alcalá, to whom this territory had earlier been dedicated by Spanish explorers in 1602. The Spanish first visited the area in 1542. San Diego’s original town site (now Old Town San Diego State Park) was developed adjacent to the presidio after 1820. The present downtown, fronting San Diego Bay, was platted by Alonzo R. Horton in 1867 three miles southeast of Old Town’s plaza, nineteen years after Alta California was conquered by the United States. Connected to the national rail grid in 1885, San Diego emerged as a navigational, military, and resort center. One consequence of the railroad boom was the founding of Tijuana, Baja California, in 1889, fourteen miles southeast of downtown San Diego.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, San Diego was home to the proto-modernist architect Irving Gill, whose austere, ingenious buildings provide backdrops for the brilliant sunlight, vegetation, and rugged terrain of the Pacific coast. One hundred years later, innovative young architects in San Diego and Tijuana follow Gill’s do-it-yourself approach, making both cities incubators of exciting trends. Significant works by famed architects (Bertram G. Goodhue in the 1910s, Louis I. Kahn in the 1960s, and Arthur Erickson in the 1980s in San Diego, and Pedro Ramírez Vásquez in Tijuana) enhance the architectural legacy of the sister cities of the Pacific. San Diego (eighth largest city in the US) and Tijuana (fifth largest city in Mexico) today construct architectural culture out of their dissonant contradictions.

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RSA/RDA Fall Lecture Series RE:Architecture [NSFW]

The Rice School of Architecture and the Rice Design Alliance’s Fall Lecture Series, Re: Architecture [NSFW], presents a new generation of architects operating across scales, methods, techniques, and sites of work. Rice School of Architecture Assistant Professor Troy Schaum, who curated the series, says he is “interested in introducing Houston to young firms that are building in unique ways, not easily categorized, and are refusing to play it safe.” Framed by the popular online tag NSFW [Not Safe For Work], Re: Architecture [NSFW] investigates how architects’ assumptions regarding safe boundaries for contemporary disciplinary investigation simultaneously limit and propel their creative practices.

Wednesday, September 25
Meejin Yoon
Founder, Höweler + Yoon Architecture, Boston
Reception Sponsor: Clark Condon Associates

Photo credit: Yihuai Hu

Wednesday, October 2
Minsuk Cho
Founder, Mass Studies, Korea
Reception Sponsor: HOK

Photo credit: Tong Kwan Kim

Wednesday, October 9
Florian Idenburg
Founder, SO-IL, Brooklyn
Reception Sponsor: Gilbane

Wednesday, October 16
Jun Igarashi
Principal, Jun Igarashi Architects, Japan
Reception Sponsors: Asakura Robinson Company and Perkins+Will

Where: Brown Auditorium, Caroline Weiss Law Building, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
When: Lectures starts at 7 p.m. with a pre-lecture reception at 6 p.m.

Series Tickets:
$20 – RDA, MFAH members
$15 – Senior citizens 65 and older
$10 – Students with identification
$35 – Others
Single Tickets (upon availability):
$7 – RDA, MFAH members; Senior citizens 65 and older; Students with identification
$15 – Others

To purchase tickets, please click HERE.

This lecture series is supported by: ARC Document Solutions; Austin Commercial; Brochsteins; CEMEX; Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing; Fast Track Specialties, Inc; Gensler; HBL Architects; D. E. Harvey Builders; Haynes Whaley Associates, Inc.; Jackson & Ryan Architects; Kendall/Heaton Associates; McKinnon Associates; Miller Dahlstrand Architects; Morris Architects; PM Realty Group; Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc.; Shah Smith & Associates,The Southampton Group; Walter P Moore; Ziegler Cooper Architects; the Corporate Members of the Rice Design Alliance; the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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REflections on RE-CRAFT

Melvalean McLemore represented her team to receive Best Overall Design. Team members not pictured are Peter Ho, Diana Ngo, and Octavie Berendschot.

To escape the summer heat, over thirty-five designers competed in air-conditioned studios on Saturday, August 3 for an intense eight-hour challenge to propose a new campus for the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC). The center is a nonprofit arts organization within the Museum District on Main Street. Their mission is to advance education about the process, product, and history of craft. The Rice Design Alliance’s (RDA) young professional group, rdAGENTS, hosted the event in the cool studios graciously provided by the Rice School of Architecture.

Participants had an opportunity to attend a site visit a week prior, Saturday, July 27, at HCCC on Main Street. That hot steamy morning, team members received a tour of the site, inside and out. They started under the shade in the craft garden amongst the cotton, bamboo, and indigo plants, they walked though the exhibition galleries, Asher Gallery, offices, and studios. The front door on Main Street was another stop to view the current façade and street view. A week later, at the charrette, each team received a program, which defined the issues of creating a cohesive campus that would encompass all the important aspects of the center and increase their Main Street exposure and identity.

On Monday, August 5, invited jurors consisting of HCCC’s neighbor Christine West, Executive Director of Lawndale Art Center; Ernesto Maldonado, principal of Glassman Shoemake Maldonado and HCCC board member; Sheryl Kolasinski, Deputy Director/Chief Operating Officer of the Menil Collection; and Julie Farr, Executive Director of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, deliberated over the 10 entries. They determined the team that addressed the most aspects of the program in the clearest manner.

The Brave Architecture team (Team 5) made up of Diana Ngo, Peter Ho, Melvalean McLemore, and Octavie Berendschot were the winners of “Best Overall” award for their designs and ideas. The judges liked how they closed in the garden, creating essentially one entrance, and their design was clearly defined.

Cre8 Architects team (Team 8) made up of Amber Moncla, Stein Hansen, Stein Hansen, Bayardo Selva, and Luis Fernandez received “Best BIG Idea” award for their entry that proposed to close a portion of Rosedale Street and create a larger block with well-defined areas for exhibitions, programming, and creating a plaza. Clark Condon’s team (Team 6) made up of Sarah Smith, Luis Hildalgo, Jason Rainosek, Luke Love, and Taylor McNeill received “Best Garden Design” for their garden layout and good presentation. The garden area recreated the repetitious of Cs from the logo.

Below are galleries of the team entries.

Team 1
Shawn Wright
Ned Dodington
Jessica Knapp
Grace Rodriquez
Jonathan Lampson

Team 2
Jonathan McMillian
Joe Cowan
Riley Anderson
Stephen Evans

Team 3
Philip LeBlanc
Rudy Fabre

Team 4
Erin Shedd
Alfonso Hernandez
Valeriya Bowker

Team 5
Melvalean McLemore
Peter Ho
Diana Ngo
Octavie Berendschot

Team 6
Taylor McNeill
Jason Rainosek
Sarah Smith
Luke Love
Luis Hildalgo

Team 7
Courtney Harper
Kyle Thiel
Scott Brooks
Shih Wei

Team 8
Amber Moncla
Bayardo Selva
Stein Hansen
Luis Fernandez

Team 9
Arnika Shroff
Marquez Colby
Anthony Vu
Justin Mason
Robert Morris

Team 10
Anna Naydenova

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An Arc of Portuguese Architecture

RDA Executive Director Linda Sylvan reflects on the RDA Hometown Tour to Lisbon and Oporto, June 17 – 24, 2013

Thirty-nine RDA members began their weeklong tour of Portugal in Lisbon, the country’s resplendent capital by the Tagus River, and concluded their adventure in Oporto, the country’s second metropolis along another great river – the fertile and aromatic Douro. Portuguese architecture is admired the world over for its poetic rigor and exquisite materiality, and local guides joined Rice School of Architecture professor Carlos Jimenez and architectural historian Stephen Fox for a romantic tour of one of Europe’s most visited destinations.

In Lisbon the group stayed in the Hotel do Chiado, designed by Portugal’s great contemporary architect and Pritzker Prize laureate, Alvaro Siza Vieira (1992). The rooftop bar, with its amazing views of the city, became our gathering place.

The view from the bar at Hotel do Chiado.

Our first evening was packed with activities, beginning with a private reception and visit to the medieval castle of Castelo de São Jorge, located atop the highest hill overlooking the Tagus river. João Luís Carrilho da Graça (RDA’s 1994 lecture series participant), a Lisbon architect who restored the grounds to heighten the castle’s layered history while providing new panoramic views of Lisbon, led us through the archeological site, uncovered in 1998. Dinner followed at 1300 Taberna, located in the LX Factory of the Alcantara district. Alcantara dates back to 1846, and is now occupied by creative companies and industry professionals.

Touring the archeological site at the Castle of St. George.

View of Lisbon from the castle.

Dinner at the hip new restaurant 1300 Taberna.

The next two days were spent exploring Lisbon and environs. The esteemed Lisbon architect-about-town Gonçalo Byrne took us on a meandering walk through the Alfama and Chiado neighborhoods. Sites along the way included Byrne’s remodeled headquarters of the Banco de Portugal (2012). We also saw another recent Byrne project, the Teatro Thália (2008) with Patricia Barbas and Diogo Lopes, which is a radical architectural rescue of the architect Fortunato Lodi’s neoclassical theater (1843). Next the group visited the grounds of Expo ’98, an international exposition. Major Portuguese and international architects designed the individual buildings, including the Pavilion of Portugal by Alvaro Siza and the Pavilion of Knowledge of the Seas by João Luís Carrilho de Graça.

Rossio Square, Lisbon.

Gonçalo Byrne's restoration of a neoclassical theater, Teatro Thália (2008).

The Pavilion of Portugal by Alvaro Siza Vieira at the Expo '98.

Just 18 miles west of Lisbon is the town of Cascais, which faces the rio Rejo estuary near the Atlantic coast. Of medieval origin, it was historically a fishing village, but because of its proximity to the mouth of the Tagus river, Cascais became the site of fortifications to control access from the Atlantic to Lisbon. Now a popular resort town, it boasts two cultural sites that we visited, the Casa das Histórias Museu Paula Rego by Portugal’s second Pritzker Prize laureate, Eduardo Souto de Moura (2011), and the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum, designed by the brothers Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus, which entailed the restoration of the lighthouse and several adjacent buildings. They also designed the three tiny buildings on the site to contain museum and visitor spaces. Back in town, tour guest and landscape architect Sarah Lake led a group through the Palacio dos Marqueses de Fronteira at Benfica. Manuel Aires Mateus later entertained us at a private reception at his home in Lisbon.

Casa das Histórias Museu Paula Rego by Eduardo Souto de Moura (2009).

Interior, Museu Paula Rego.

Restored lighthouse at the Farol Museu de Santa Marta by Aires Mateus, Cascais.

Coincidentally, guests dressed in their sailor striped shirts for the lighthouse tour.

The gardens at the Palacio dos Marqueses de Fronteira at Benfica.

On the fourth day of the trip, we bid farewell to Lisbon after a must-stop trip to Pasteis de Belém and a visit to the Mosteiro da Santa Maria da Belém, a landmark of Portuguese architecture in the Manueline Gothic style. Then it was off to Oporto on the train, leaving from the modern, multi-level station Gare do Oriente (1998), designed by the Spanish-born Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava.

A sampling of pastries at the Pastéis de Belém.

The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (1501-1601) is a landmark of Portuguese architecture.

RDA travelers went by train to Oporto, leaving from Lisbon's Gare do Oriente station.

Oporto is the hometown of Siza and Souto de Moura, and it is a marvelous city of intricate tiled buildings, multiple shades of porto wine, and striking baroque buildings. Among the places we visited were Siza’s birthplace, Matoshinos, and the Siza’s masterful Serralves Foundation Museum, which houses the national museum of modern art of Portugal. The 44-plus-acre site includes an Art Deco pink villa, formal gardens, and beautiful landscapes.

Gallery, the Serralves Foundation Museum, by Alvaro Siza Vieira (1991-1999).

The pink villa of the conde de Vizela is a monument of Portuguese Art Déco architecture that sits on 44 acres of landscaped gardens.

After a tour of the University of Oporto’s architecture school, where Siza designed the complex of his alma mater, the group visited individual works by Souto de Moura, the magnificent baroque church of Los Clerigos, and the Casa da Música designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, an inspired addition to an already rich legacy of singular buildings in the city.

The Casa da Música designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA (1999-2005).

Our tour concluded with a one-day trip to Santiago de Compostela to visit Siza’s masterwork, the Galician Center of Contemporary Art, with a prolonged pause at the city’s incomparable cathedral and pilgrimage site, and the experience of its innumerable granite streets and portals. On our way back to Oporto, we made a last stop at Peter Eisenman’s controversial Ciudad de las Artes.

The city of Santiago de Compostela's famous cathedral and pilgrimage site.

Back in Oporto, we were lucky that our last night coincided with the Festival of São João. After dark, streets were closed to allow celebrations in the many squares throughout the city. Live music, food trucks, fire balloons, and fireworks were abundant. Revelers participated in an interesting tradition with roots in pagan courtship rituals by hitting each other with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers. It was great fun to “get bonked” in this family-friendly celebration. It was a night to remember after a memorable week in the romantic cities of Lisbon and Oporto.

Thanks to our fantastic tour guides Carlos Jimenez, Stephen Fox, and Lynn Kelly! We also thank our photographers, Jay Allison and Hill Swift.

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Anything That Floats…finally!

The third annual Anything That Floats competition took place Saturday, June 22 at Sesquicentennial Park after being rescheduled from May 4, Kentucky Derby Day. Still, seven teams came out to Race for the Roses in their boats created from discarded building materials. The teams wrangled with the materials that were generously donated by J.E. Dunn, Chamberlin Roofing + Waterproofing and Gilbane. Two guest judges, KHOU 11 New’s Katherine Whaley and Chamberlin’s Doug Combes, scrutinized the boats’ materials and deliberated over the winners. The winning crew, Nathan McCormick, Roni Garrett, Claire Janak, John Graca and Patrick Noble, received the coveted captain’s wheel. Their actual race time tied with Mark Danna and Mark Smith, but the challenges to reduce seconds helped them win by a head!

Thank you to the coverage from the Houston Chronicle (pre and post), Great Day Houston, CultureMap and KHOU!

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