Houston in Cite
One Million Acres and No Zoning
Review by Christopher Dow
The idea of “tough love” can apply to the landscapes and architecture of cities as much as it does to other sorts of human interaction. This is especially true when the city in question is Houston, with its urban sprawl, lack of zoning, and disconnected neighborhoods. In One Million Acres & No Zoning (Architectural Association, 2011), Lars Lerup, the Harry K. and Albert K. Smith Professor of Architecture and former dean of the Rice University School of Architecture, turns his tough love on Houston.
Lerup presents Houston as a test case for twenty-first-century urbanism and examines how that urbanism contributes to the understanding of unregulated cities. His approach to the city’s complexities takes into account the many features Houstonians see daily as well as the infrastructure that they don’t.
As much a rumination on modern urbanism as it is a critique of the Houston cityscape, One Million Acres goes a long way toward showing how creative transformation has allowed Houston to prosper in an era when many cities have experienced difficulties or declined.
Reprinted from Rice Magazine, #12, 2012.