For the future of Houston

In the fifty years that I have lived in Houston, I have seen many changes - some good and some bad. I remember when Richmond Avenue was a two lane street that stopped at Post Oak. I remember when Gerald Hines got his start by building small office buildings near Buffalo Speedway; I even helped to design some of them. I remember when a whole neighborhood of nice little houses was torn down so that Greenway Plaza could be built. I remember when Richmond was widened into four lanes and then a year or so later torn up to install a new utility line. Now I am witnessing even more changes along Richmond - old apartment complexes and office buildings being replaced by new apartments, a huge HISD complex being converted into shops and apartments, explosive growth on the west side of town…the list could go on and on. The point is that Richmond Avenue, just like most of Houston, has been changing for at least 50 years, and it will continue to do so for the forseeable future. The street will not stay just like it is. It could become another multi-lane Westheimer-outside-the-Loop, or it could have a light rail line added down the middle to handle the coming increase in traffic, thus preventing the need to add more traffic lanes.

As an architect and urban planner, that is the kind of growth that I would like to see. I travel Richmond frequently as I go between my residence in Midtown and my office on Weslayan at West Alabama. With the rail in Richmond, I could get on the light rail in Midtown and ride to the Weslayan Station, close enough to my office to walk the rest of the way. Or, I could join friends for an evening at the regular Art Crawls along Richmond and Colquitt (Kirby Station) and not have to worry about finding a parking place or driving home. This is all part of making Houston a city of the future, a place where we can truly have options in the way we travel about the city.

It is time for us to get past the misinformation and the fears and start embracing the most feasible way to provide transportation options where the people are!

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