Sunday, July 25, 2004

Summer cocktails for the Houston heat

Whatever relief we enjoyed during June's endless rainstorms evaporated in July. When Houston's heat is too much to handle and you want a refreshing cocktail to enjoy in your pad, here are a few concoctions that will bring a chill to your day:

The Gin Smash was around long before Mojitos became the cocktail to drink. Similar in style, the recipe is amazingly simple to follow:

1 tbsp sugar
4 sprigs fresh mint (peppermint or spearmint are fine)
3 tbsp gin

Dissolve the sugar in a little water in your cocktail shaker. Add the mint and, using a muddler, bruise and press the juices out of the leaves. Then add plenty of crushed ice and the gin. Shake for about 20 seconds. Strain into a small glass filled with crushed ice. If desired, add fresh mint sprigs to garnish.

Now... if you do like Mojitos, below is a typical recipe. For a slightly different variation, use a flavored light rum like Cruzan Citrus Rum or Bacardi Limon.

1 1/2 oz light rum
1 lime, squeezed
2 sprigs of fresh mint
1 tsp sugar
club soda

Dissolve the sugar in the lime juice in your cocktail shaker. Add the mint and, using a muddler, bruise and press the juices out of the leaves. Add the rum and plenty of ice and shake for about twenty seconds. Pour into a collins glass filled with plenty of ice and then top off with club soda. Do not shake with the club soda or it will become flat.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Leo Marmol, AIA to Speak in Houston

In case you haven't heard, Houston Mod has invited Leo Marmol, AIA of Marmol Radziner + Associates to come speak at the organization's annual lecture.  If you're not familiar with Leo Marmol's work, he has been responsible for the restoration of iconic modernist houses such as...

The Kaufman House (1946)
Designed by Richard Neutra
Palm Springs, CA

The Elliot House (1930)
Designed by R.L. Schindler
Los Angeles, CA

The Raymond Loewy House (1946)
Designed by Albert Frey
Palm Springs, CA

The Rose House (1963)
Designed by Conrad Buff, Dennis Straub and Don Hensman
Beverly Hills, CA

Here is the official calendar release:

Thursday, August 19th 2004, 6:00 p.m at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Brown Auditorium located at 1001 Bissonnet

Houston Mod is pleased to announce that Leo Marmol, AIA, managing principal of Marmol Radziner + Associates of Los Angeles, will be our second annual speaker for the August lecture. Mr. Marmol will give a talk about the preservation of modern architecture. His firm is responsible for the restoration of Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House in Palm Springs and has been recognized in many national publications.  This lecture is free and open to the public.

For more information about the firm, please visit their web site:

For more information about Houston Mod, please visit:

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Architect William N. Floyd Passes Away

Architect William N. Floyd, a great man who served his country in two wars and placed his signature across the landscape of Houston via his designs, passed away earlier today. Bill was 94 years old.

Over the past two years, I was blessed to get to know Bill and to find out all about his work. His extensive work as an architect and a builder received a great deal of attention during the 1940s - 1960s. Sadly, later in life, many had forgotten about the numerous houses and awards he received during his career. I'm glad that Bill and I were able to put his name "back on the map" so to speak and that many more people are now appreciative of his work. He was a great man and I am sad to see him leave us. I will forever be grateful to him and his family for their kindness and willingness to share his achievements and friendship with me.

I hope to add a great deal more to the web page about Bill's work. There are quite a few additional articles, photographs and other items from his career that I hope to have online within the coming weeks. I also plan on updating his bio with some of the additional information I gathered from him over the past three or four months.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Modern Preservation Spirit is Spreading

As many of you know, Houston has been experiencing a surge in the desire to preserve modern architecture. Organizations like Houston Mod have received a great deal of attention both locally and state-wide for their efforts to preserve buildings like the Prudential Building and MacKie and Kamrath's George Mitchell house. Now it looks like that desire is spreading across Texas.

Harlingen, just north of Brownsville and the Texas-Mexico border, has been known in the architectural community as a hidden hotbed of modernist design. A number of prominent architects worked in the valley designing sleek, modern homes from the 40s through the 60s. Even iconic architect, Richard Neutra, designed a house in Brownsville in the 1930s for a Pan Am Executive. The house is considered by many to be the first international style house designed in Texas. The house has been in bad shape for years but recent efforts have energized the Brownsville community to restore this architectural treasure. An article in the Brownsville Herald titled Kreiger House Named to State Endangered List provides some insight. Due to recent efforts, federal grants and nationwide attention will help this house survive the wrecking ball.

The Valley Morning Star recently published an article on the interest in Harlingen's modernist past titled The Modernist Era. It provides some interesting insight into the concentration of modern houses located in Harlingen as well as efforts to save these houses for prosperity.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Mid-Century Tulsa neighborhood launches page - Possible Teardown on Electra?

It looks like Lortondale, a Tulsa, Oklahoma neighborhood similar to Memorial Bend, recently launched a web page to start cataloging its modern houses. The web page takes a rather light-hearted approach and features a few houses as well as articles from the neighborhood's history. Like Memorial Bend, the neighborhood received quite a bit publicity and was published in magazines like House & Home. Architect Donald Hoon was the main designer of houses in the neighborhood.

Possible Teardown?

Rumor has it that the house at 410 Electra, which had been on the market for a few months, has been purchased by a builder for roughly $280,000 and is slated to be torn down for a McMansion. This traditional style house is nearly 2,700 sq. ft. in size, one of the largest one-story houses in Memorial Bend and sits on a standard size lot. I have not been able to verify whether the teardown rumor is true. There's no telling if we'll soon end up with a McMansion that towers over its neighbors and is "designed" (most builder spec homes are not designed by architects) with little consideration on its effect on the neighborhood's character.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Two Floyd Houses Hit the Market - Two Houses Saved

Scanning through the Houston Association of Realtors' web page, I noticed two William N. Floyd designed houses have gone on the market.

The first, 12923 Hansel, known as the DeGraffenreid House, received quite a bit of attention when it was first built in 1956. The house ended up earning a special award of merit from the National Association of Homebuilders in 1958 and appeared in American Builder Magazine, House & Home and The Houston Chronicle.

The second house, 318 Electra was also designed by Floyd and was build in 1959. The house across the street once belonged to noted architect and AIA Gold Medal winner, Bill Caudill.

Two Houses Temporarily Spared from the Wrecking Ball

Two houses that had been a thorn in the side of the neighborhood are no longer going to be torn down for McMansions and are back on the market. The houses are located at 403 Faust and 12810 Traviata. Both houses are typical of designs found in surrounding neighborhoods like Fonn Villas, Memorial Plaza and Frostwood as well as Memorial Bend. It is good to see that they have received at least a temporary reprieve and will hopefully end up in the hands of good owners.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

A new "Bend Mention" and a link worth visiting

Our Memorial Bend house was listed in the "Home Page" section of the most recent issue of Atomic Ranch Magazine. Check out a scan of the article from the Memorial Bend Architecture web page.

Pick up the magazine to get a great feel for what you can do with your house as well as what resources are available. The magazine is two issues old and definitely worth a subscription.

New link: Metro Retro Furniture in Pasadena. Trust me... it's well worth the drive. The Goodform chair mentioned in the Atomic Ranch piece was found in Metro Retro's cavernous warehouse.

Memorial Bend Blog Debuts

Ever since the Memorial Bend Architecture web page went live, I've been wondering how to keep everyone update on the latest postings, news, links and other features without forcing people to dig all over the site. Thanks to this blog, you'll be the first to know... what has just been posted on the page, architectural and development news, where to find the perfect 50s era piece of furniture for your Floyd house and much more.

Given my penchant for all things mid-century, I'll occasionally post something fun like the best Miles Davis album to play in your modern house or the perfect cocktail to enjoy on your patio. My goal is to update the blog at least once a week. Whenever I have something new, I'll post it.

If you have any suggestions, let me know. Enjoy this new blog. Together, we'll find out where this goes...