Rice Design Alliance Tour

A stunning home tour that shows off the entire city: All of Houston's wards — and their unusual houses — finally get their due


Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 1515 Woodhead
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway
Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 2102 Francis
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway
Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 714-716 Sabine
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway
Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 734 Tulane
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway
Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 1217 Robin
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway
Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 1507 Chestnut
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway
Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 205 N. St. Charles
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway
Rice Design Aliance architecture tour April 2015 317 Sampson
Photo by © Paul Hester/Hester + Hardaway

Houston's ward system — the six neighborhoods that still retain strong identities and deep-rooted pride — take center stage in the Rice Design Alliance's Spring 2015 Architecture Tour following the theme, "afterWARDS: An Architecture Tour of Houston's Wards and Beyond."

The self-driven tour will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and is free to RDA members. RDA membership costs $45 and can be purchased online, in person at the RDA office at Rice University or at designated ticket-buying locations the days of the tour.

In the slideslow, you'll find brief synopses of the eight structures on tour with the assistance of notes provided by Steven Fox, Rice University architectural historian and lecturer.

1515 Woodhead St.
pb elemental design, 2014

This house literally stops traffic with its constructed topography. The steel-frame, three-story house is based on an L-plan configuration but with the top two floors rotated out of alignment with the ground floor.

The interior has its surprises, too, with intersecting planes in the high-ceilinged, loft-like, second- and third-floor spaces. 

2102 Francis St.
Brett Zamore Design, 2014

Located in the Third Ward, Brett Zamore Design created this long, slender and tall two-story wood-framed house to accommodate the owner’s collection of art. An interior deck and light court provide protected outdoor space while bringing in natural light.

The house opens to the north with views framing the neighborhood and the downtown skyline. 

714 and 716 Sabine St.
Gottleib Eisele, 1872; Murphy Mears Architects, 2014

This project involved moving and restoring a Victorian cottage and constructing a new house on the property in the Sixth Ward. The cottage now serves as a guest house, while the rear component is an modern adaptation of a gable-roofed barn.

Exterior landscaping completes the serene setting of the buildings.

734 Tulane St.
Shade House Development, 2008 and 2011

Even though The Heights was never part of Houston’s ward system, the neighborhood had its own First Ward. This house is part of a live-work compound that includes the offices of the developer's firm in a 700-square-foot back building/garage. The 1,700-square-foot front house follows an L-plan structure.

"Matt Ford cites his college years living in old houses in New Orleans as inspiration for incorporating salvaged doors, floors, and other recovered materials in the house," Fox notes.

1217 Robin St.
Rodrigo Tovar, 2014

Rodrigo Tovar stacked work and living spaces in this L-plan dwelling to provide amazing skyline vistas in the Fourth Ward tower house. Third- and fourth-floor balconies offer expansive outdoor entertainment spaces "that seem to embrace the entire city," Fox says.

 

1507 Chestnut St.
kinneymorrow Architecture, 2015

Home to a musician/teacher, this 1,100-square-foot house combines performance and production studios with one living space. The straightforward two-story is made of structural insulating panels, which aid the house’s acoustical insulation, and is surfaced with Galvalume panels.

The roof deck offers sweeping views of the downtown skyline.

205 N. St. Charles St.
CONTENT Architecture, 2014

Known fondly as Casa Lobo, this house in the Second Ward is as straightforward as it gets: A steel-framed, painted Galvalume-surfaced structure standing on exposed steel columns. The design creates a large shaded outdoor space at ground level.

Inside, the structure is efficient with a living-dining room-kitchen floor plan and economic finishes.

317 Sampson St.
1910; Janusz Design, 2015

Located between the Second and Third wards, this former fire station is now transformed into a residential loft. The second floor serves as the main dwelling space and affords views of downtown.

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