A need to preserve the artifacts and architecture of times past are what inspire a lot of people to search for vintage and antique collectibles, furniture and to buy period homes. This desire to preserve is not within all of us, but there is a nostalgia and an appreciation for the beauty of buildings and furniture that were crafted so thoughtfully and carefully in the past.
The Alley Theater (pictured below) is by Ulrich Franzen, who was incredibly inspired by Khan.
For more information on preservation, please visit the this link: http://www.theawl.com/2012/08/brutalist-architecture
Phase I: Alley Theater
By Karina Filipovich
Since its conception in 1965, The Alley Theater has dominated the street corner of Texas Avenue and Smith Street within the greater downtown Houston area. Houstonians who have passed the theater have often been met with an unsteady feeling due to its rigid structure and columns that reach for the sky. Though the designer, Ulrich Franzen, had originally envisioned the building to appear at an equal height to the surrounding architecture, one still can't help but feel the height and rigidity of the enormous columns while passing by from the sidewalk below. The connected subterranean parking-garage is equipped with a drive-through ticketing booth, as well as nine towers that support not only the roof, but also act as the servant spaces (such as the fire escapes).
An elevated view of the Hugo V. Nehaus Stage
Once entering the Alley, it becomes more noticeable that the servant columns assist in defining both the interior and exterior spaces. Franzen, the architect, decided the Alley should be suited to accommodate the hot and humid Houston weather by allowing The Alley to "offers a great deal of shade to the surrounding streetscape, and its thick walls keep the interior cool- reducing HVAC costs and repairs and thus mitigating the inevitable heat gain from interior stage lighting" (Contreras 37). Franzen aimed for his buildings to be technologically modern while remaining efficient simultaneously. In addition, "The building houses the Patricia Peckinpaugh Hubbard stage, which features a unique thrust stage, and seats 824, and the Hugo V. Neuhaus Stage, seating 310 and which can be configured as either a thrust stage or as an arena…" (Ross).
Nina Vance, the first owner of the Alley Theater, started The Alley in an actual alley way, continued inside a repurposed fan factory, then finally settled on the corner of Texas Avenue and Smith Street where the Alley remains to this day. The Alley Theater was financed by grants and also the numerous donors who craved for a new theater in Houston. Since The Alley was built, the way productions are created today now differ from the 60's and 70's in which stages were fashioned to focus more upon the costumes rather than on the backdrop. The Alley is currently being renovated to have more seats and space for more elaborate sets and props.
The new Alley Theater is projected to be completed in 2015.
Throughout his life and career Franzen found great interest in the arts, particularly art history, which influenced his buildings and designs."…Upon closer inspection, the Alley theater turns out to be quite symmetrical in plan and almost Euclidean in many of its details…"(Blake 96). Ulrich Franzen interned at the office of I.M. Pei after graduating from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. "By 1955, Franzen had enough self-confidence…to leave Pei's office and establish his own practice" (Blake 9). After World War II, the direction of architecture became one of practicality and bluntness. Buildings became brutal, a term coined by Le Corbusier, because of their raw concrete structures and their industrial materiality. In 1964, "Hugo V. Neuhaus… selected Ulrich Franzen to design its [The Alley Theater] permanent home…" (Ross). Franzen's goals for the Alley were "to build something as 'ancient as stone and modern as Houston,’… as well as the technological advances of contemporary dramatic productions" (Contreras 38). Though The Alley appears as an eyesore to some, its functionality and thoughtfulness coincide with the era of Brutalist architecture; thus, allowing The Alley to be viewed as a worthy building on the streets of Houston for years to come.
The Symmetry found in the plan of The Alley is a common characteristic of Brutalist architecture.
Blake, Peter, Ulrich Franzen, George Weissman, and Massimo Vignelli. The Architecture of Ulrich Franzen: Selected Works. Basel: Birkhäuser, 1999. Print.
Contreras, Kalan Michael. Revisiting Brutalism: The Past and Future of an Architectural Movement. The University of Texas at Austin, May 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://hdl.handle.net/2152/22005>.
Ross, Matthew C. "A HOME OF OUR OWN." Alley Theatre. Alley Theater, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://www.alleytheatre.org/Alley/A_Home_of_Our_Own.asp>.