East River Adding Art to the Mix

HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Another public art installation will be joining Midway’s mixed-use East River project.

Houston-based RE: site Studio will be creating a permanent, signature element for a hub location between two greenspaces within the 150-acre project’s commercial, retail and dining spaces, and related connecting trails adjacent to Buffalo Bayou.

As designed, the stretched-out rhombus of a sculpture celebrates the East End’s multicultural diversity — as well as its history and landscape, press materials indicate.


More specifically, the recently commissioned piece will feature a tidy assemblage of custom, vertically bundled steel pipes that have been cut “artistically” on the diagonal to reveal colorfully painted interiors. Their patch-worked palate draws inspiration from African American and Louisiana Creole quilts and textiles and from Mexican palm baskets and deshilado embroidery (a form of drawn threadwork).

Breaking down the sculpture’s components, the pipes’ raw exterior will be left to rust and weather — as a reference to the industrial heritage of the bayou-adjacent site.

In addition, the bundled form of articulated surfaces mimics the rippling and interplay of Buffalo Bayou and the Gulf of Mexico, which have fueled Houston’s growth and its cultural cross-pollination.

The sculpture’s intended effect is one of “dynamic visual dialogue” that highlights both the blend and the juxtaposition of things natural and industrial. Also, the piece strives to invite the viewer’s interaction: look up through the pipe openings to see reflections of the overhead sky and passing clouds — or check out the playful LED lighting at night.

While the installation’s final size is TBD, its proportions are sensitive to sight lines toward the bayou and nearby parklands, Midway sources say.

The projects of RE:site co-founders Shane Allbritton and Norman Lee specialize in exploring notions of community, identity and narrative within public spaces. Their installations make use of diverse materials, styles and modalities to interpret a site’s theme, neighborhood connections and historical nuance.

“The Power of the Arts to Create Community” – Shannon Bedinger

“Connecting past, present, and future, this sculpture celebrates the multicultural diversity of our city and a blending of the industrial with the natural,” said Shannon Bedinger, Midway’s Senior Vice President of Marketing + Communications. “These are defining elements of our vision for East River, and as we continue to develop and implement the art program for the development’s first phase, our hope is that works like this serve as a reminder of local talent and the power of the arts to create community.”

Midway’s public art push at East River is advancing in conjunction with the Weingarten Art Group, a Houston-based art advisory firm. Next up for the development’s assemblage is a call for local artists to submit proposals for a mural for permanent display on one of the development’s building facades.

Activated public space is a cornerstone of Midway destinations, company sources note. As an example, Houston-themed murals by local artist David Maldonado already enliven six shipping containers at East River’s entrance.

The project’s first office and retail spaces will open in April 2023, with additional opening planned throughout the year ahead.

Located near the intersection of Jensen Drive and Clinton, East River is a mixed-use development overlooking Buffalo Bayou, one mile east of downtown Houston. Among the project’s initial plans are 130,000 SF of office space; three 10,000-SF office buildings for sale; a five-story multifamily building of 360 apartments; and 70,000 SF of retail. The East River 9 golf course is open.

The East River development earlier served as the campus of the Brown & Root engineering and industrial services firm and military tanks were built there in wartimes. Before that it housed a cottonseed oil mill owned by William Marsh Rice, whose legacy includes Rice University.

March 23, 2023 Realty News Report Copyright 2023

Conceptual Image: RE:site. Courtesy Midway


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