Rice lecturer’s architectural art resets agenda for Sharpstown home


One good turn deserves … cheers
Rice lecturer’s architectural art resets agenda for Sharpstown home

BY MIKE WILLIAMS
Rice News staff

Under moody skies that occasionally burst with a slug of rain, a Rice-based artist took a major step toward the realization of a decadelong project this week.

MIKE WILLIAMS
  Artist and Rice lecturer Mary Ellen Carroll talks with a cameraman Thursday at the prototype 180 site in the Houston neighborhood of Sharpstown. 
   

Mary Ellen Carroll’s “prototype 180,” a project in Sharpstown that aims to reinvigorate a neighborhood by turning an entire property around, advanced as the location’s ranch-style house did an about-face with the help of a moving contractor and to the cheers of onlookers who braved the weather Nov. 11.

“The moment when it was out on the street and completely untethered and had its own architectural autonomy … is something I worked on for a very long time,” said Carroll, a visiting lecturer at the Rice School of Architecture, standing in a drizzle in mud-covered boots. “That gesture is the catalyst. It can only happen once, and now the architecture begins.”

Hundreds tuned in via the Web to see the turning from the house’s perspective. William Deigaard, director of Rice’s Networking, Telecommunications and Data Center, set up a battery-powered feed from cameras under the eaves that gave — and continues to give — viewers a look at the site.

The move was postponed several weeks after an initial attempt to lift the building onto a flatbed, slab and all, cracked the foundation. Ultimately, a new foundation will be poured, the site relandscaped in reverse of the original plan and the building rehabilitated as a center for future architectural study.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.