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ULI Houston Announces Awards for Outstanding Projects

ULI Houston chair Carleton Riser, president of Transwestern Development.

ULI Houston chair Carleton Riser, president of Transwestern Development.

HOUSTON – The Houston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) today announced its 2015 Development of Distinction Awards presented by Winstead Attorneys at the Rice Crystal Ballroom downtown.

The ULI Development of Distinction awards recognize developments that exemplify best practices in design, construction, economic viability, community health, marketing and management.

In the For-Profit Category, the winner was Braeburn Village (Midway/AAI Affordable Housing). This 140-unit, affordable multi-family housing redevelopment project in southwest Houston was developed by Midway Cos. through a collaborative partnership with AAI Affordable Housing. The complex is an attractive, affordable, multi-family housing option for the community. Midway partnered with Hill and Frank Architects, Brownstone (contractor) and Wong & Associates Landscape Architects. They redeveloped the existing property by first abating asbestos and demolishing all existing structures. The team removed the property from the flood plain, created community gathering spaces, added additional green spaces for residents and new playground equipment for children. Braeburn Village is visually appealing, functional and sustainable, while providing safe, affordable housing to families.

There were two winners in the Not-for-Profit Category: Bethel Church Park (Houston Parks & Recreation Department) and New Hope Housing at Rittenhouse (New Hope Housing, Inc.).

The goal of the Bethel Church Park project was to restore and preserve as much of the existing building (a historic Fourth Ward church) as feasible, as well as repurpose the church to retain its reverential character, while providing a functional space for passive recreation. Another important objective was to provide visual cues to the role the church played in a historical African-American neighborhood which has since been redeveloped. This City of Houston park provides a welcome respite from the surrounding hustle and bustle. The project team consisted of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Michael Lloyd of PGAL Architects and JE Dunn Construction.

New Hope Housing at Rittenhouse, located in north Houston, serves adults who live alone on limited incomes. The site planning utilizes 2- and 3-story buildings connected at the corners with metal-screened encased stairways to avoid overwhelming the neighborhood with a single mass. The LEED platinum-certified complex is situated around a courtyard featuring a mature grove of oak trees and a curved community wing with shared amenities. The development contains 160 studio apartments and inviting community spaces. Abstract stained glass presides over the tall sunny foyer, and original art decorates the walls to help create a sense of place. The positive influence of Rittenhouse extends to the entire neighborhood, offering a beautiful building with intelligent landscaping, such as a detention pond that doubles as a prairie-like park. Partners included Ernesto L. Maldonado, AIA, of Glassman Shoemake Maldonado Architects; Camden Builders, Inc. and Asakura Robinson Company, LLC.

The Lee Davis Library at San Jacinto College was named the winner in the Heritage Category. The library, built in 1966, was underutilized and in need of upgrading. Sustainability was at the center of design and construction. Original furniture and library stacks were restored and reused. Energy and water efficient MEP systems contributed to better building performance. The renovation honored the spirit of the mid-century modern building and through contemporary materials and modern technology, emphasized the social importance of learning and community outreach. The renovation has attracted many students and faculty, and the library is now open for public events, helping to strengthen the relationship between the college and the local, low-income community. Gensler was the architect for the restoration, and Tellepsen was the contractor.

The winner in the People’s Choice Category, and finalist in the Not-for-Profit Category, was The Monarch Institute Campus, which received the highest number of online votes. Located in Spring Branch, the Institute was noted as a finalist for its innovative approach to sustainability for the entire campus and specifically for the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Classroom Studio, one of only six in the world and the first in Texas to achieve this level of sustainability. Overall, the School has a unique environmental design aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. The outdoor campus supports acres of project work in environmental education. Students at The Monarch School, which educates learners with neurological differences, will operate the building to meet the net zero goals and will in turn train the Houston community in this approach. The project team included Jackson & Ryan Architects and Mission Construction.

“This year’s Development of Distinction Awards covered an amazing array of innovative and sustainable projects,” said Carleton Riser, ULI Houston chair and Transwestern Development Co. president. “Each winner is a singular example of the ‘complete real estate project’ and has positively impacted their immediate community and Houston as a whole.”

Nine finalists were selected by a nomination panel of Houston real estate leaders that included David Hightower, executive vice president, chief development officer, Wolff Companies; Lonnie Hoogeboom, director of planning, design & development, Downtown Management District; 
Char Lombardo, senior manager, facilities, BHP Billiton; Anna Mod, SWCA Environmental Consultants; 
Jane Page, CEO, Lionstone Investments; David Robinson, Houston City Council at Large #2;  Thomas Stroh, President and COO, Jones & Carter; and Preston Young, regional managing partner, Stream Realty Partners.

A jury of three national real-estate experts traveled to Houston last November to tour all projects and select the winners. The 2015 award jury included Clare De Briere, executive vice president, the Ratkovich Company in Los Angeles; John Desmond, executive vice president of urban planning & environment and executive director of the business improvement district, Downtown Denver and Anica Landreneau, global director of sustainable consulting for HOK in Washington D.C.

ULI also honored these 2015 finalists and honorable mentions:

Hanover Rice Village, by The Hanover Company;

Towne Lake Master Plan, by Caldwell Companies

Bagby Street Reconstruction, by Midtown Redevelopment Authority; The Monarch Institute Campus, by The Monarch School
Pennzoil Place, developed by Gerald D. Hines (1975), owned by Metropolis and managed by Transwestern
Lone Star College, Cy-Fair Campus, by Lone Star College; Sylvan Beach Pavilion (Harris County Precinct 2, Jack Morman, Commissioner)

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