Painting for a Purpose

Gia Woodrum in front of one of her spin paintings.
Photography by Richard Bettinger of
Kid with a cause...7-year-old Gia Woodrum is using her creativity to help people living on the streets in Dallas. Read her story here

River Oaks Redux

The River Oaks lobby, as conceived by Rottet Studio
Midcentury Masterpiece . . . For the longest time, great midcentury buildings in Texas have been torn down or renovated into monstrosities of pastiche—slap some white columns on that clean facade and rip out the original terrazzo floors and you have a building that appeals, and sells, to everyone... in theory. I'm convinced that people often just buy what's available, and much of what's out there is bad design. Create something beautiful, and the people will come. 

Case in point: The River Oaks in Houston. Currently under extensive renovations, the 1960s-era mid-rise is staying true to its stunning original Mies van der Rohe-inspired roots, and is well on its way to becoming one of the most glamorous residences in the country. 

The project is being led by developer Richard Leibovitch of New York-based Arel Capital, interior architect/designer Lauren Rottet of Houston-based Rottet Studio and Andre Landon, principal architect at EDI International in Houston. Leibovitch could have built a massive high-rise on the three-acre property overlooking the tony River Oaks neighborhood, and presumably made a lot more money. Instead, he kept much of the original footprint of the building, which will house 84 large residences, including extravagant 10,000 square foot penthouses with private pools and terraces. Something I've never seen associated with a high rise before are the six ground-level, two-story townhouses with 2,200 square feet of secluded private gardens. The building's surrounding grounds are stately and expansive, and views of the city will likely never be compromised by high rise development, since the building's neighbors include low-rise residential areas, St. John's School and St. Luke's United Methodist Church. 

Lauren Rottet is one of the most exciting interior designers working in the country today—in fact, she made it to the top of Leibovitch's list before he even knew she was based in Houston. She's author of some of the most glamorous spaces in the country, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Surrey in NYC and the St. Regis in Aspen. Rottet's plans for The River Oaks include curated art and furnishings, rich woods, natural stone and expansive use of glass in the lobby and common areas. The building will have 24-hour concierge service, a dog park and dog grooming facilities, overnight guest suites, gym with separate massage and yoga facilities. 

The River Oaks website is now up, and the sales office opened earlier in July. Units start at $875,000. 3433 Westheimer, Houston, TX, 713.600.5978

The River Oaks exterior view
The River Oaks lobby
Condominium inside The River Oaks
Private penthouse pool view
Ground-level townhouse with private gardens