This project has had two lives, though I suspect in time it may
grow a few more.
Houston Wet began as my graduate thesis in architecture at Rice
University, which I presented in January 1997. Before graduating
with a master's degree that spring, I produced a required written
version of the project, adding a few chapters of explanatory material.
Through the middle of 2000, the website remained online -- and
unaltered. I received some nice comments from visitors who happened
upon it, but the site lacked much explanation and may not have
been completely understandable to those who had not seen me present
In the summer of 2000, with the encouragement of two former professors,
Albert Pope and Sanford Kwinter, I returned to the project, first
to create a video version to be included in the exhibition they
were preparing on American urbanism this fall in Bordeaux, France,
and second to refine and expand the website -- both for the exhibition
and, well, for you.
Houston Wet was heavily influenced by ideas in the (conditioned)
air at the Rice University School of Architecture in the mid-90s.
Though I learned much from all of my courses and many of my classmates
there, this project shows most obviously the influence of my experiences
in studio courses taught by Albert Pope, Robert Mangurian and
Mary-Ann Ray, and Lindy Roy, as well as the work of dean Lars
I am grateful to the Houston office of
Gensler for allowing me a
leave of absence from my job in order to work on this project.
This project also owes considerable debt to the research of Anne
M. Platoff, which I describe below.
I owe thanks to Kathy Strawn, Mike Gentry, and Mary Wilkerson
at the Johnson Space Center Media Resource Center for allowing
me access to their film and print archives. Dennis Preisler and
Steve Hausfeld of The History Company, Toni Cooper of the ExxonMobil
Baytown refinery, Wanda Mitchell and Lila Friederich at the Baytown
Historical Museum, Perry Cartwright at the University of Chicago
Press, and Rebecca Iappini at KTRK-TV all helped me find and get
permissions for images. Carrie Pryor and Wanda Cash were kind
enough to let me scrounge through the photo collection of the
Baytown Sun. Bob Gabrysch, Ronald Neighbors, and several
other staff members at the Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence
District helped me pick through their photo archives and answer
questions. Phyllis Bledsoe, Marilyn Uhrich, and Clark Bartee of
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District helped me
with their photo and document archives. And Suzanne Brown has
patiently kept pace with my onslaughts of emailed questions and
I am also including, below, my original acknowledgments from
the written version. Because it's all still true.
December 20, 2000
This project would not have been possible without the kindness,
patience, and assistance of many people.
Lois Morris, Steve Johns, Joan Ferry, and Nancy Boothe of the
Woodson Research Center and Johnson Space Center Archives helped
me greatly with information and photographs related to the space
program and President Kennedy's visit to Rice.
I owe thanks to everyone I interviewed in the course of my research,
but especially to Jack Kinzler, who set up his flag on his front
lawn to show me how it worked, and to Suzanne Brown, who was generous
enough to let me spend two days in her living room scanning family
Denise Fisher and Betsy Anderson of the Sterling Municipal Library
in Baytown allowed me access to their collection on the history
of Baytown and Brownwood. Captions to their photos, many by historian
I.M. "Deacon" Jones, helped to fill many gaps in my
understanding of the story.
"Off to the Moon" is based heavily on research by Anne
M. Platoff. Her paper, written for NASA, is entitled "Where
No Flag Has Gone Before: Political and Technical Aspects of Placing
a Flag on the Moon."
I would like to thank Wanda Mitchell and Hallie Martin of the
Baytown Historical Museum, David Ondrias of the Baytown Parks
and Recreation Department, Mike Gentry and Amy Kennedy-Reynolds
at NASA, the staff at the Texas Room of the Houston Public Library,
Steve Wasserman and Patsy Harris at KPRC-TV, Robin Dunbar of the
Rice University geology department, and Jack McCaine for their
Aubrey Calvin, Jack Terence, Kim Shoemake, and Eric Shamp were
kind enough to allow me use of their personal photographs in this
project. Eric's haunting scenes of Brownwood and his paper on
the subdivision's fate first attracted me to the story.
Support and ideas from many class- and studio-mates were invaluable;
I will mention only a few here. Angelo Directo gave me some quick
but important tips on website design. David Cunningham's assistance
with coding in the final days of the project was critical. Ann
Doyle would make a superb photo editor, should she ever decide
to leave architecture; I relied heavily on her eye -- and patience
through my constant interruptions -- for many decisions concerning
the use of photographs. Branden Hookway, James Horn, and George
Soo gave me a few hours of their time in the final days before
This project also benefitted from the comments of School of Architecture
faculty members at interim reviews. I am indebted to my faculty
advisors -- Albert Pope, Stephen Fox, and Richard Ingersoll --
for their helpful criticisms, but especially for their support