Houston Downtown Present
Consider the view from the Morris Architects office onto Fannin at Lamar. This is a typical corner in the project area. Street retail frontage is discontinuous and poorly realized; it's interspersed with blank walls, loading docks, and transparent but relatively inactive building lobbies. The large plaza is attractive, but it's devoid of activity. Some sidewalks are wide and tree shaded; others are sunbaked. There's a parking garage, but it gives no indication it's open for visitors. In fact, there is almost no signage; from here, there's no way to tell that the building a block away is Macy's, or that there is good food to be had in the tunnels below. The unmistakable message: pass through unless you know the place. In a snapshot, this is the Downtown Shopping District today.
Houston Downtown Future
Consider the same corner as it could be. Lobbies and parking garages are transformed into shops. The plaza contains a new retail building with links into the tunnels. Canopies shade sidewalks. The parking garage advertises its presence to visitors. Signage is everywhere: advertising stores, guiding shoppers, brightening the streetscape, giving a sense of activity. The buildings are the same, but the place is transformed. Anyone passing through would be tempted to stop. This could be the Downtown Shopping District tomorrow. (Text by Christoph Spieler)