“Art Piece” Condos Coming to Houston Neighborhood

montroseriverwyAfter nearly 20 years, Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects are once again in Houston to design a seven-story, 34-unit midrise condominium.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the New York architecture firm is working with Houston developer Riverway Properties to build a luxury condominium in Montrose, a residential neighborhood of Houston. The condominium, which will feature, among other things, floor-to-ceiling glass and a wavy curve structure, is described as an “art piece” by Riverway Properties.

“We thought the neighborhood deserved something that is reflective of its surroundings and the people who live in it,” said Michael Carroll, the president of Riverway Properties.

Other features of the building include an underground garage, a large lobby with concierge service, and an interior design that centers on open floor plans and minimal walls.

Although Carroll is enthusiastic about the condos, he is cautious about their ability to sell due to Houston’s predicted economic slowdown, which is in turn being blamed on falling oil prices. As such, the company will not go forward with construction until at least half of the units are pre-sold. That number is an increase of the original plan, which only required 10 pre-sold units.

“I think it would be prudent in the economic climate to sell them ahead of time,” said Carroll. “That way we aren’t stuck with a building that is vacant and hasn’t sold. … We are confident if we sell half, the rest will sell.”

Each unit is expected to sell at prices between $1 million and $2.3 million. The units’ sizes range between 2,277 and 4,200 square feet.

The architecture firm has a long and distinguished history with Houston. The firm has designed several high-profile Houston buildings such as Pennzoil Place, the Bank of America Tower, and the Williams Tower in the Galleria. Its last Houston project, the Chapel of St. Basil on the University of St. Thomas campus, was completed in 1997.

The Montrose property is based on a 1949 building known as the Glass House. The House, which was the residence of one of the firm’s founders in New Canaan, Connecticut, featured glass walls and minimalist designs, something the Montrose project architects want to emulate.

“We came up with a vision that would break out of the box,” said Marko Dasigenis, the head architect at the firm’s Houston office. “We got rid of the box, literally.”

Dasigenis went on to say that he wanted the design to focus on simplicity and use of natural light.

Riverway Properties admits that the building will offer few amenities but notes that the condos are located in an exclusive Houston area, in between the Westheimer bar district and the city’s museums.

“The design brings in the eclectic neighborhood, the sights and the sounds, into the building,” said Carroll.

The condominium is set to open next year.