Architecture in Texas: Must See Structures!
Are you planning your next road-trip, or vacation getaway and looking for exciting, modern-yet-historic places to explore?! Then Texas may be the PERFECT place for you! Today we’re going to check out some absolute MUST-SEE architecture in Texas that will absolutely blow your mind. And perhaps even trigger a few memories from history class. 😉 We’ll start in San Antonio, and visit architecture wrapped in history at The Alamo. Next, prepare to be stunned in Stafford, Texas; where the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple resides. After Stafford, we’ll travel to Houston and check out Texas architecture capable of creating an optical illusion based on your positioning! This architectural magic is known as The Pennzoil Place. Finally, it’s off to the castles! The two we will be specifically exploring today are the Old Red Museum Castle, located in Dallas. As well as the Elisabet Ney Museum, found in Austin Texas. All aboard!!!
1. The Alamo – San Antonio, Texas
Easily one of the most historic architectural structures in Texas, The Alamo carries within (and around) its wall’s history that many of us learned about as a kid in school. But since it’s been a while, let’s brush up with a brief history lesson! Starting in the winter of 1835, volunteer Texan soldiers inhabited what was formerly a Franciscan mission. The following February 1836, thousands of Mexican forces led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Although greatly outnumbered (thousands vs. a mere 200), the Texan soldiers led by James Bowie and William Travis, fought with excessive vigor and courageously battled for 13 days. Although their battle for independence had been lost that day, the overall war was not over, as Texas won their fight for independence a year later. Due to its history, this architecture in Texas has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Texas Purchases The Alamo
The Alamo itself is made almost entirely of limestone. The Alamo, formerly known as the mission San Antonio De Valero, was built by Spanish settlers around 1718. It was originally named for St. Anthony of Padua. Located on the banks of the San Antonio River, the mission housed Native American converts and missionaries until 1793. This was when Spanish authorities distributed five missions and their lands to local inhabitants.
The state of Texas purchased the Alamo in 1883. Later they would also acquire the property rights of the surrounding grounds as well. Since 1905, a woman’s organization called “The Daughters of the Republic of Texas” have managed the Alamo. This historic 4.2 acre site is now seen by over 2.5 million visitors a year! Will you be one of the next ones?!
2. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple – Stafford, Texas
Next, we’re off to Stafford, Texas; where the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple is bound to blow your mind! This stunning architecture in Texas is a traditional Hindu temple, built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. This jaw-dropping palace of a building was built over a 28-month construction period. This masterpiece consists of 33,000 pieces of hand-carved marble and Turkish limestone; whilst the grounds themselves are spread over 22 acres. Furthering its authenticity, this incredible temple was built according to sacred Hindu scripture.
The first traditional Hindu Temple of its kind in North America, the Mandir offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Inside this majestic mandir, visitors can view Italian marble artwork, paintings of sacred images, and an exhibition of the religion’s history.
3. Pennzoil Place – Houston, Texas
Are you ready to watch architecture and magic collide?! This next stunning architecture in Texas offers the experience of an optical illusion, depending on where you’re standing in coordination to 2 mirror-imaged buildings. The Pennzoil Place, located in Houston, Texas was designed by Phillip Johnson and John Burgee. These two, side by side buildings are 36 story, 495 feet tall trapezoidal towers, that are mirror images of one another. The exterior of the buildings are dark bronze in color and made of glass and aluminum.
Built in 1975, the unique trapezoidal structure made Pennzoil Place the first skyscraper of the Post-Modern Era. Pennzoil Place is now Houston’s most award-winning skyscraper and is consistently winning awards due to its incredibly innovative design.
Quite the Investment
Quite a significant amount of funds has gone into the renewal of the building and its infrastructure. More than $16 million of capital investment has been put into the building since 2009. On the other hand, these investments have seemed to pay off with the advancements of state-of-the-art technology. Pennzoil Place is the first office building in Houston to incorporate and use a fiber optic backbone for IT communication. This system uses Cisco’s “Smart+Connected” buildings framework, which enables the enhancement of data communications, and physical security. Furthermore, this provides for increased tenant comfort, and quick response times, with the ability to achieve high energy efficiency. Pretty impressive the functions of this building on its interior as well as its award-winning design and exterior. Needless to say, Pennzoil Place officially makes the list, of must-see architecture in Texas!
4. Bishop’s Palace – Galveston, Texas
Finally, we made it to the castles!!! Surprising to many, there are actually a handful of castles located around Texas! Right now, let’s set our sights on the Bishop’s Palace, located in Galveston, Texas. This jaw-dropping piece of work was built in the late 1880’s by architect, Nicholas J. Clayton. The castle was originally built for Walter Gresham, a lawyer and politician, and his family. Known at the time as the “Gresham House”, it grew into what is now a National Historic Landmark. This stunning palace is listed in the “National Register of Historic Places at the national level of significance in the area of architecture“.
Previous to this, in 1923 it was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston; when it gained the name the “Bishop’s Palace”. But nowadays, this beautiful fairy-tale like a palace, is open to the public and can even be used for special occasions!
5. Elisabet Ney Museum – Austin, Texas
Last, but certainly not least- we end and the grand Elisabet Ney Museum. This castle is located in none other than Austin, Texas. In case the name didn’t give it away, the Elisabet Ney Museum once was home to you guessed it! Elisabet Ney! But! Do you know just who Elisabet Ney was? Yet another incredible woman breaking the molds and making history of course!
The Incredible Elisabet Ney
Elisabet Ney was the first woman admitted to Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts to study sculpture. Her career flourished as she traveled around Europe sculpting politicians, celebrities, and even royalty! However, she gave up her career in order to create a utopian socialist retreat. She formed her first in Georgia and the second in Texas. Her goal here was to create a place where she and her friends could live “surrounded by the unspoiled beauties of nature, aided by the influence of art and science, so that each individual may develop according to this own nature”. Sounds like a great friend to have! She continued on and won multiple commissions in her state, and her studio in Austin, “Formosa”, became a meeting point for cultivated people to discuss art, politics, and the “larger aspects of life”. The German sculptor passed, leaving behind her incredible legacy, in 1907.
Her Texas home, the breathtaking castle that it is, is now the Elisabet Ney Museum; a fine art museum, which is actually dedicated to engaging programming, which often includes female writers in residence– truly a woman after my own heart!
Now Exiting Texas!
So what was your personal favorite on today’s tour of incredible architecture in Texas?! Mine has got to be either the fantasy-like, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple; or the castle and home of such a stunning woman in history. Either way, Texas has plenty to offer and then some when it comes to must-see places and impressive architecture! Speaking of; if you’re in town or in need of any structural engineering work in Texas, we at Eastern Engineering Group are proudly licensed in the state, and happy to help!
Stay tuned for our next tour where we check out more must-see architecture you’ll absolutely want to add to your next vacay-list. Next stop: Nevada!
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