The Richmont Square Apartment Complex Is Harshing The Menil's Mellow

The Richmont Square apartment complex, where lots of college kids got their first taste of dorm-free living, don't appear to be long for the world.

Ever since the Menil Museum started talk of expanding their footprint in Montrose, people have been speculating that the dowdy -- but serviceable and certainly conveniently located -- Richmont Square complex would get hit with the wrecking ball.

Menil officials remained coy, but in a recent speech there was little room for doubt.

Offcite, the website of Cite magazine, reported on a talk by the architect in charge of the expansion:

During his presentation to a packed audience at the Menil yesterday, David Chipperfield referred to the Richmont Square apartments as "the great big thing," "this thing getting in our way," and a "nonconforming" space.

Charged with developing a master plan for an expansion of the facilities for the Menil Collection, he quickly identified the redevelopment of that site as the key to expanding while also maintaining the positive qualities of the current campus.

Doesn't sound like a lot of love.

The plan outlined by Chipperfield would preserve the bungalows, which a lot of people like but whose uniform paint scheme always seemed a little forced to us. But plenty of changes will be coming:

Now for the actual details. The car park along Alabama would be strengthened with the new bookshop, cafe, and auditorium nearby. The key change would be to connect West Main across the site through the area occupied by the northern end of Richmont Square. The complete street grid would surround a new green space that would also be made possible by the clearing of the north side of the apartments. It would connect, slightly off axis, with the current Menil park between the main building and the Rothko. The Drawing Institute and Study Center and Single Artist Studios would be sited around the new green space. And along Richmond itself, the plan calls for dense residential and commercial development.

Some attendees, Offcite said, asked if the new development might lead to a place that was "overly precious, a parody or Disneyland version of its former character."

The officials agreed it would.

No, of course they didn't. Such a thing would never, ever happen in Houston.

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