AIA Home Tour
Oct 25 & 26 from noon–6
$25; cyclists $20; single home ticket $10
Rusty Bienvenue, the executive director of the American Institute of Architects' Houston chapter, is eager to talk about the kind of homes that you will not see on the annual AIA home tour this weekend. For instance, you will not see any houses by mega-builder Perry Homes, even if the homeowner has personally hand-selected the tiles. You won't see any pseudo-Tuscan villas. And you definitely won't see any of the gaudy "faux châteaux" that Bienvenue has recently seen popping up around town. So what will you see?
"This is more of the Houston school of architecture—they're done by Houston designers with Houston sensibilities in mind," Bienvenue told me. "Every house is designed for a client, for a lot. They're not just designing these houses and plunking them down wherever." (Full disclosure: Houstonia is a media sponsor of the tour.)
The seven homes on the tour were chosen from a list of projects nominated by AIA's Houston members, which were then voted on by a panel of local and national architecture experts, the kind familiar with the requirements of residential construction in a hot, humid climate. They range from a modest 1,686-square-foot home built by kinneymorrow architecture to a 5,560-square-foot manse by studioMET architects. (One of the homes, by Logan and Johnson Architecture, made Houstonia's list of the top 10 Houston homes of all time earlier this year—see our slideshow below for photos of all the houses.) The kinneymorrow home, located at 2204 Decatur St. in Houston's historic Germantown neighborhood, was once allegedly a crack house, Bienvenue said. Which, he said, just goes to show that you don't have to be rich to use an architect.
"There's a misconception that you can't hire an architect to build your house unless you're building houses that are worth millions of dollars," he said. "And what you see on this tour is that that isn't true. You can build a modest house using an architect, and build a better house because of it."
Just please, please don't build any more fake Tuscan villas.