Developments of Distinction

Urban Land Institute award winners emphasize restoration and repurposing

Nancy Silverton
Photo courtesy of VNA
Dami Korean Fusion
Courtesy of Dami
Nancy Silverton, salted chocolate tart
Photo courtesy of VNA
Photo courtesy of Piatella
Nektar Juice Bar
Photo courtesy of Nektar Juice Bar
Janet Ryan Stegall, Nancy Silverton, Scott Murray
Photo courtesy of VNA
Katharine Krause, Dean Fearing, Wanda Gierhart
Photo courtesy of VNA
Pinstripes pasta
Courtesy of Pinstripes
poutine, North Dallas Creole
Photo courtesy of NDC
Trump Scion Hotel
Courtesy of 5G Studio Collaborative
Target suspects Derek Whitener
Photo courtesy of DPD

The Houston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) honored eight finalists for the 2016 Development of Distinction Awards, recently presented at the Rice Hotel's Crystal Ballroom.

The awards recognize developments and public spaces that exemplify best practices in design, construction, economic viability, healthy places, marketing and management. The selection of this year's winners and finalists especially highlighted restoration and reuse with six of the eight finalists utilizing existing structures.


Navigation Esplanade
Winner: Urban Green Space Award

Owner: The City of Houston
Developer: East End Management District
Architect: James Hill
General Contractor: R. Miranda Trucking and Construction
Complete: September 2013

The inaugural award for Urban Green Space went to the Navigation Esplanade by the East End Management District and the City of Houston.The three-block long, 44-foot-wide gathering and market place in the center of Navigation Boulevard in the East End was inspired by Santana Row in San Jose, California and La Rambla in Barcelona.The Esplanade is set up for two street cafes, seven kiosk retail outlets, 40 vendor spaces for pop up tends and up to six food trucks, making it an ideal festival space for large or small gatherings.

Heights Clock Tower
Winner: For-Profit Category

Owner/Developer: Heights Clock Tower, LLC
Architect: Nonya Grenader, FAIA; David Watson Architect & Associates
General Contractor: Apollo Construction Co.
Complete: June 2015

The Heights Clock Tower, housed in one of the first industrial centers in the Houston Heights, won the 2016 Development of Distinction Award in the For-Profit category. The century-old 23,000-square-foot complex has been transformed and repurposed into a lively mix of uses. The newest project, completed in 2015, is the latest of four phases of redevelopment which began in 2003, creating unique spaces within this historic context for the tenants of graphic designers, architects, engineers, programmers and other innovative users.

Cross Creek Ranch
Winner: People's Choice Category
Finalist: For-Profit Category

Owner/Developer: The Johnson Development Corp.
Architect: SWA Group
Complete: 2020

Cross Creek Ranch, a master-planned community in Fulshear, was the winner in the People's Choice Category with 34 percent of votes, and was also a finalist in the For-Profit Category. The development aims to create an enduring community by prioritizing core values associated with a sustainable environment, vibrant culture and interconnectedness. The result is a distinct development that has experienced sustained and recognizable economic, social and environmental success within the Houston region and beyond.

Honorable Mention: 
Not-for-Profit Category

Owner: KIPP Houston Public Charter School
Architect: Gensler
General Contractor: Linbeck
Complete: June 2014

The KIPP CONNECT Houston project involved the adaptive reuse of an existing hospital in the Gulfton community in West Houston. The facility was transformed into a pre-K3 through 12th grade charter school serving 1,800 students. The three-story, 155,000-square-foot flagship campus was transformed and has also become a catalyst for additional community improvement including an adjacent Legacy Clinic.

TMCx Accelerator
Finalist: Not-for-Profit Category

Owner: Texas Medical Center
Architect: Gensler
General Contractor: Meridian Constructors
Complete: March 2015

The TMCx Accelerator by the Texas Medical Center is a business accelerator located in the former Nabisco Cookie Factory. TMCx is intended to catapult the development of early-stage companies by providing life science and digital health entrepreneurs the essential resources for growth, including office and meeting space, training curriculum, a core group of business and legal experts and a network of advisors and potential investors.

The 30,000-square-foot workspace was designed to accommodate up to 50 companies with flexible worktables and seating and can be easily reconfigured to host seminars or receptions and conform to the scientists’, graduate students’ and researchers’ preferred work modes.

G.T. Mickey Leland Federal Building 
Finalist: Not-for-Profit Category

Owner: General Services Administration
Architect: Gensler
Complete: July 2015

The decision to renovate rather than rebuild was based on General Services Administration’s commitment to sustainability as well as the desire to incur as little disruption as possible to existing tenants and the general public who utilize services in the building. The result is a modern, energy efficient building that maintained an 80% occupied condition during the entire construction period.

JW Marriott Houston Downtown
Finalist: For-Profit Category

Owner/Developer: Pearl Hospitality
Architect: Gensler
Complete: August 2014

The JW Marriott Houston Downtown is the brand’s first adaptive reuse project in Texas and the second property in Houston. Housed in the historic landmark Samuel F. Carter building, the hotel reflects Houston’s vibrant arts community and its colorful culinary scene.

South Heights Mixed-Use
Finalist: For-Profit Category

Owner/Developer: RE:VIVE Development
Complete: 2011

A group of Houston Heights buildings, originally built between 1950 and 197  on 2.2 acres in rapid decline, have been reimagined into a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use district that capitalizes on the surrounding walk-able neighborhood, has thoughtful design, and brings together local restaurants and retail uses that complement the area.