Developing Resilience - A Post from The Resiliency Committee
As the real estate industry grapples with increasing physical climate risk, understanding risk reduction strategies and their implications
The Better Generation X PJ Tucker, Giorgetti, Texas Southern University Library Learning Center, Alief Neighborhood Center & Park, Memorial Park Land Bridge & Prairie, and Chrysalis Lake – Bridgeland are given top honors. Buffalo Bayou East took home top honors in the inaugural Moonshot Awards. Memorial Park Land Bridge & Prairie and Buffalo Bayou East took home the People’s Choice Award in their respective contests.
HOUSTON – February 6, 2024 – Houston’s most compelling and innovative real estate projects were recognized by the Houston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) at the 17th annual Development of Distinction Awards presented by Wilson, Cribbs + Goren.
Close to 290 guests gathered for ULI Houston’s centerpiece awards program at Armadillo Palace, which recognizes developments and open spaces that exemplify best practices in design, construction, economic viability, healthy places, marketing, and management. The program is modeled after the national Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence.
Among the winners, Buffalo Bayou East took home the inaugural Moonshot Award. A category introduced this year to recognize the Apollo 11 equivalent to real estate; projects which seem nearly impossible but can be achieved through extraordinary effort and innovation. By recognizing projects not yet fully developed, ULI Houston looks forward to creating conversation around big ideas that if achieved would positively impact the region’s quality of life or change the way we conduct business.
Buffalo Bayou East is a visionary extension of the thriving Buffalo Bayou Park and trail network along Houston’s historic waterway. The Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan encompasses a four-mile stretch of waterfront that, when complete, will bring quality green space, trail connections, pedestrian bridges, mixed-income housing, and distinctive public amenities to the vibrant Greater East End and Fifth Ward, two culturally rich communities that are currently underserved in terms of high-quality public spaces.
In the Small-Scale For-Profit Category**, the 2024 award went to The Better Generation X PJ Tucker. The Better Generation X PJ Tucker transformed a pass-by asphalt surface on Washington Avenue into a one-of-a-kind community destination focused on bringing people together through exercise, style, and food. Using shipping containers for the structure, the design and layout encourages visitors to become active participants while painting the picture of rejuvenation through re-use, adaptation, and participation.
In the Large-Scale For-Profit Category*, the 2024 award went to Giorgetti. Giorgetti epitomizes the uniqueness of the Giorgetti brand, blending nuanced design, meticulous craftsmanship, and high-end materials to offer an unmatched living experience. A collaboration with one of Europe’s top furniture makers, this structure reflects Giorgetti’s artistry and aligns with Texas’s rising luxury urban trend.
In the Small-Scale Non-Profit Category** the 2024 award went to Alief Neighborhood Center & Park. Alief Neighborhood Center and Park combines three City of Houston departments under one roof creating synergy among the City’s Health, Parks, and Library departments for the benefit of residents. Featuring the “Biggest Front Porch in Texas” — a covered porch that serves as a gathering place — the center gives expression to the diverse community and creates a heart for civic engagement.
In the Large-Scale Non-Profit Category* the 2024 award went to Texas Southern University Library Learning Center. This state-of-the-art facility is focused on a modern design that evolved in bold new ways to meet the current and future needs of Texas Southern University’s students. In a collaborative effort, a coalition of students, faculty, administrators, and community members worked to develop a facility containing innovative technology that fosters an engaging learning environment.
In the Open Space Category, the 2024 award went to Memorial Park Land Bridge & Prairie. Memorial Park’s Kinder Land Bridge and Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Prairie is an iconic new destination within Houston and a point of civic pride, manifesting the power of what investment in public landscapes and green infrastructure can create. The expansive, 100-acre Land Bridge and Prairie not only is a unique and compelling design, but it also provides the public with an opportunity to connect with significant native ecologies, find peace, rejuvenation, and recreation within the dense urban landscape, and come together as a community in enjoyment and stewardship of Houston’s largest public park.
In the Historical/Adaptive Reuse Category, the 2024 award went to Ion. The Ion building is the namesake centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor, anchoring a district-wide vision to advance and sustain Houston’s economic resilience—and deliver a better quality of life for each other. The beautifully revived building—once home to the iconic Sears showroom, itself a modern marvel in 1939—is today a sunlit structure of steel and glass designed to bring Houston’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs.
This year our judges selected one finalist to receive what has been named the Trailblazer Award. As ULI Houston does every year, judges were given leeway to award finalists as they deemed appropriate. The judges felt Chrysalis Lake – Bridgeland sets a bar not only for open space in master-planned communities, but also open spaces across our region. In unanimous agreement, they chose to award a trophy to recognize the work of its development team.
Located in the award-winning master planned community of Bridgeland, Chrysalis Lake is a habitat comprised of a 22-acre lake and 39.5 acres of forests and meadows. Chrysalis Lake is home to more than 58,000 pollinator plants designed to help combat the declining pollinator population and was designed to improve stormwater management and air quality, ultimately enhancing biodiversity and quality of life for its insect and animal inhabitants.
In a surprising park-themed people’s choice, Memorial Park Land Bridge & Prairie won the Development of Distinction People’s Choice award and Buffalo Bayou East won the Moonshot People’s Choice award, both garnering the most votes in their respective online public polls.
Finalists were selected by a nomination panel of Houston real estate leaders that included: Nick Dwyer, Director of Business Development – Alston Construction; Rob Erni, Vice President – Quiddity; Yvonne Hernandez, Client Development Specialist – Terracon; Todd Mason, Partner – MLB Capital Partners; Adrienne Schwartz, Owner – AMS Consulting; and Joe Wilfong, Senior Associate & Senior Project Designer – Perkins&Will.
A jury of national real estate experts evaluated all finalists’ projects in October 2023, to select the 2024 Development of Distinction Awards winners. Our jury this year was: Anne Cummins, Co-Founder & COO at Gattuso Development Partners, Rachel Lee, Principal at Kairos Asset Strategies, and Edward Henley III, Founding Principal at Pillars Development.
The following 2024 category finalists and one honorable mention were also recognized during the awards:
Large-Scale For Profit: Hanover Autry Park – BB Parcel A NE Owner LLC and The Hanover Company
Small-Scale Non-Profit: Houston Endowment Headquarters – Houston Endowment
Large-Scale For-Profit: San Jacinto College Anderson-Ball Classroom Building – San Jacinto College
Open Space: Aggie Park – The Association of Former Students – Texas A&M and Midway.
Historical/Adaptive Reuse: Loro Asian Smokehouse & Bar – Re:Vive Development and Hai Hospitality
Moonshot: Indigo – Meristem Communities & The Plant at Second Ward – Concept Neighborhood
Nomination Panel’s Honorable Mention: Holcomb Family YMCA – YMCA of Greater Houston
Since 2008, over 140 projects and public spaces have been recognized as Development of Distinction honorable mentions, finalists and winners. See a full list.
* Over 100,000 sq ft
** 100,000 sq ft or less