Crescent Novel River Oaks – Honoring the Heritage of its River Oaks Neighborhood

Densification of the Urban Core

With the rapid growth of Houston and further densification of its urban core, let’s take a closer look at some recently completed high-rise mixed-use apartment projects to see what role they may be playing in our city’s urbanization. This new development provides the hustle and bustle of urban life that comes with the ability to walk where you need to go. Density allows you to also enjoy a high concentration of culture and convenience. However, it is still a pretty new concept to Houston. With it, lifestyle hounds are reexamining the suburban sprawl model and flocking to our inner-city neighborhoods.

Activating the Street

Located on Westheimer Road between Upper Kirby District and upscale Highland Village District, Novel River Oaks could not be more conveniently positioned for its residents. The 326-unit, eight-story midrise apartment building is just an amble away from upscale shopping and dining. The building’s design appeals to a demographic seeking lock and leave convenience in a coveted location. In walking distance of two of Houston’s most highly regarded private schools – River Oaks Baptist and St John’s School – Novel River Oaks reinforces its connection to the historic neighborhood.

Engaging the Existing Neighborhood

Designed at a Paris Garden District scale, the building responds sensitively to the architectural character of the neighborhood, and pays homage to John Staub, River Oaks’ master plan architect. In keeping with the neighborhood scale, the northern façade of the building engages the street with two-story townhomes and a twenty-five-foot setback to respect a glorious canopy of old oak trees that line the street. To further engage the neighborhood district, a community Map Room offers access to its neighbors for gatherings and sports a map of the original John Staub Masterplan for River Oaks. For the convenience of Novel’s residents and the neighborhood, the design includes 12,000 square feet of street level restaurants and cafes. Novel River Oaks represents a good development model for transitioning an established neighborhood to higher density urban living without upsetting the neighborhood.

Large Scale Urban Districts

This development is playing the key role of reinforcing the importance of neighborhoods to those searching for a more cultured, simplified, and convenient urban lifestyle. With Houston at an early stage of urbanization and densification, the design of mixed-use neighborhoods will continue to reshape our city’s skyline for years to come. This neighborhood becomes a part of larger scale urban districts that reinforce mankind’s fundamental need for social interaction and a sense of belonging. Our twenty-first century challenge is to create more walkable urban districts for a less auto dependent and more sustainable future.

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About the Author

Scott Ziegler, AIA

As Founding Principal of the firm and leader of the Urban Architecture Studio, Scott’s design experience reflects his belief that inspirational architecture enriches people’s lives, uplifts the human spirit, and provides a constant vision of excellence. As Residential Senior Practice Area Leader, Scott plays an active role in shaping the urban landscape through the firm’s built works and his published writing in professional journals on the subjects of sustainable urban growth strategies and high-density mixed-use developments.

Scott Ziegler, AIA

Senior Principal

Senior Principal

Scott Ziegler