Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:16 am Post subject: ISMAILI CENTRE HOUSTON
Aga Khan plans still on
Plans are still in the works to build a Muslim Ismaili center at the corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose, according to the group that bought the property in 2006 and tore down the art deco warehouse that had sat on it for decades.
The Aga Khan Foundation purchased the 11-acre property with plans to build a facility to house conferences and lectures relating to the Aga Khan Development Network as well as for recitals and exhibitions to educate the public about Islam's heritage.
The building was also expected to contain a prayer hall, classrooms and offices, the group said when it bought the property.
The design concept and timeline for development weren't known when the property was purchased, however, and they still aren't.
“At the moment, no concrete plans have been developed,” said Zahir Janmohamed, CEO of the Aga Khan Council for the USA.
For now, the site is being used as a construction staging area for work being done on a nearby bridge.
Nothing is likely to happen there until a similar Ismaili center, which should break ground this year, is completed in Toronto.
And then Houston will be one of three new centers that could be developed next. The other two are in Los Angeles and Paris.
Posted in Houston, big questions, things there should be by nonsequiteuse on September 15, 2010
Recall the news from late 2006: The Aga Khan Foundation purchased land on the southeast corner of Allen Parkway at Montrose. According to HCAD, they still own the property, and while I’m sure their plans have been delayed for the same reason so many other large-scale construction projects have been in the past few years, I have not heard anything that leads me to believe the plans have changed.
Plans for the building of an Ismaili community center. Plans made and financed by an imam (the Aga Khan) who is the spiritual leader of an enormous Shia Muslim community.
Perhaps you’ve read a news story or 100 lately about how plans for a community center centered on the Muslim faith can stir emotions? And not, maybe, the nicest, noblest emotions? Perhaps you recall how some in the exurbs of Houston reacted a few years back to a smaller-scale but similar project? (Google “pig races Katy Islamic Association” if you’ve forgotten.)
Let me be very clear about several things:
1. Calling the Park51 development the “Ground Zero Mosque” is about as cricket as calling high fructose corn syrup corn sugar.
2. I still cling to the indoctrination I received during Saturday morning cartoons about what makes our country great. (This.)
3. I find nothing funny about peace, love, or understanding. (Reading the rest of this blog entry will be better with this video playing in the background. Try it.)
4. The Ismaili center has as much right to be here as any other organization.
5. Having a beautiful new building on this corner with space for cultural events, educational lectures, and religious gatherings will give Houston more feathers in our architectural and cultural caps.
6. Yes, anything built on this lot will generate more traffic at an already-horrible intersection. Maybe the Aga Khan Foundation could bump up the budget by a couple of hundred thousand to provide some fencing and off-street parking for the illegal dog park on the northwest corner of this intersection to mitigate the situation. Don’t dog parks make all development better?
Bottom line—how can Houston get ahead of the haters on this project? How can we plan to welcome this new cultural institution and head off any attempts to turn the development of the property into a media feeding frenzy focused on alarmingly-mustachoied hatemongers.
We need a coalition of the business, religious, cultural leaders, and concerned, connected citizens of our town to start planning now so that we can demonstrate to the world (once again) that Houston welcomes all comers, invites cross-cultural communication and collaboration, and thrives because of our diversity.
Landmark Tolerance sculptures close to the site of Ismaili Centre Houston.
"During the dedication, Mayor Parker and former Houston Mayor Bill White publicly recognised Mawlana Hazar Imam’s partnership with the City of Houston in the Tolerance project, and his longstanding engagement with the city. Indeed, the vacant expanse along Allen Parkway across from the Tolerance sculptures is the site of a future high profile Ismaili Centre. There are five Ismaili Centres located in London, Vancouver, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe, with another in Toronto under construction and Centres in Houston, Los Angeles and Paris in the planning stages.
“The Ismaili Centre will be an architectural statement and a place of peace, harmony, and welcome,” said Mayor Parker. “Thank you to the Aga Khan for a very significant gift towards the Tolerance project and for his commitment to Houston.”"
Mawlana Hazar Imam to establish Ismaili Centre in Houston
Mawlana Hazar Imam confirmed plans to build a high-profile center in Houston on 22 March during his final Mulaqat of the USA Diamond Jubilee visit. He went on to say that the process of selecting architects is already underway with guidance from Hazar Imam’s brother Prince Amyn.
President of the Ismaili Council for the United States, Dr. Barkat Fazal, commented, “We are immensely grateful to Mawlana Hazar Imam as this Center, representing our ethics and values, will serve as an ambassadorial building furthering community connection and dialogue.”
Ismaili Centres represent the permanent presence and the core values of Ismaili communities around the world. These buildings, exceptional in architectural form, embody the hopeful aspirations of a forward-looking community. Through their libraries, classrooms, gardens, meeting spaces, and prayer halls, the buildings function as places of learning, contemplation, discovery, dialogue, and friendship. To learn more, visit the Ismaili Centres site.
During the same Mulaqat, on behalf of the USA Jamat, President Fazal presented a loyalty address to Mawlana Hazar Imam, and Vice-President Zahir Ladhani presented a gift to Hazar Imam of a collection of 147 glass weights dating back to the Fatimid era during the 10th and 11th centuries.
The weights illustrate the colorful variety, diversity, and artistic creativity of glass produced at the time of the Fatimid dynasty. Symbolically, they also represent aspects relating to pluralism, ethics, and equity, as well as religious and spiritual authority. The glass weights are inscribed with the names and titles of the Ismaili Imams of the period, as well as other phrases attesting to the Imam’s authority or wilaya. The inscriptions also emphasise the central role of the Imam and the concept of Imamah in Ismaili history and thought.
Addressing the Jamat gathered in Houston, Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed gratitude and happiness over his Diamond Jubilee visit to the United States, and conveyed guidance and blessings to the Jamat in the US and around the world.
Yesterday, on the occasion of Navroz, Hazar Imam was presented with the One Jamat Mosaic, comprising thousands of individual photos into a single, cohesive work of art. The mosaic was created by Ismaili artists to capture the excitement and anticipation of members of the USA Jamat during the Diamond Jubilee year, and in the lead up to Hazar Imam’s visit.
Mayor: First Ismaili Center in the U.S. will be located in Houston
HOUSTON - Mayor Sylvester Turner is celebrating the announcement by the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims worldwide, that the first official Ismaili Center in the United States will be built in the heart of Houston.
Winding up a week-long visit to Houston, His Highness the Aga Khan confirmed that the Center will be located at the intersection of Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard just west of downtown. The planning process for selecting an architect has begun.
Hundreds of thousands of Ismaili Muslims live in the U.S. and Canada, with Houston having the largest population.
“The Aga Khan’s decision to locate the first center in Houston is a golden reflection of the city itself and of all Ismailis,” the mayor said. “Ismailis believe in pluralism, tolerance, openness, development, education and cultural engagement, making the Center a perfect fit for the most diverse city in the United States, where neighbors helping neighbors is one of our distinguishing traits and cultural engagement is an everyday part of our lives.”
Ismaili Centers are places of learning, contemplation, prayer, discovery, dialogue, and friendship, said the mayor, who visited a center in London during a trade mission last year.
“It was my privilege to welcome His Highness to Houston last weekend and to meet with him to discuss the work of the Aga Khan Development Network around the globe, as well as the contribution of the Ismaili Muslims to Greater Houston,” the mayor remarked.
The Houston Center “will be a representation of our ethics and values, and will serve as an ambassadorial building furthering community connection and dialogue,” said the president of the Ismaili Council for the United States, Dr. Barkat Fazal.
The Aga Khan departed Houston today after a trip celebrating his Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years as the Ismaili Imam.
Houston Trade Mission to India Opened Doors to More Local Economic & Cultural Expansion
Mayor Turner also visited sites in New Delhi with connections to future cultural amenities in Houston for residents and visitors alike. The mayor examined the Aga Khan Development Network’s restoration and expansion of buildings and grounds at Hamayun’s Tomb, a 16th century attraction that inspired the design of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. The Aga Khan Foundation, led by the spiritual leader of Islam’s Ismaili movement worldwide, has announced plans to build a cultural center in central Houston.
Site of Houston’s First Sears Store to become Major Ismaili Muslim Center
Eleven acres south of Buffalo Bayou will used for Ismaili Muslim Center.
HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – An Ismaili Muslim center is being planned for a prime 11-acre tract – once the site of Houston’s first Sears store – just west of downtown Houston near Buffalo Bayou.
The Ismaili Center in Houston will serve the city’s approximately 40,000 Ismaili Muslims and is expected to include a Jamatkhana, or prayer hall, educational spaces, a social hall, and several multi-purpose meeting and conference spaces.
The site, which slopes down from West Dallas Street toward the bayou, is at the southeast corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard.
The land was once the site of Houston’s first Sears store, opening in 1929. After flood waters from Buffalo Bayou inundated the store in 1935, Sears relocated to its South Main Street store in Midtown. The Allen Parkway property became a landmark art deco industrial property known as the Robinson Warehouse.
In 2006, the property was purchased by the Aga Khan Foundation. Then the Robinson Warehouse was demolished, clearing the way for Ismaili Center.
Although it will be several years before the center is complete, the architecture team was recently selected following a international design competition.
“We are excited to be working with architects of world stature and experience to design this unique project. It will embody both Houston’s and the Ismaili community’s pluralistic vision,” said Barkat Fazal, President of the Ismaili Council for the USA.
DLR Group/Westlake Reed Leskosky will collaborate with London-based design architect Farshid Moussavi on the project. Moussavi also works as an architecture professor at Harvard University. Landscape architect Nelson Byrd Woltz will work on the project, which will have courtyards and open spaces that could be impacted in times of extreme bayou flooding.
The new Ismaili Center will be the seventh in a series of iconic cultural buildings His Highness the Aga Khan has commissioned over the past four decades in the United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, and Tajikistan. Once complete, the center will serve as a national hub for the social, cultural, and intellectual activities of the Ismaili Muslim Community.
“We are very honored to partner with the Ismaili community to bring this historic building to life,” said DLR Group|WRL Senior Principal Paul Westlake, who leads the firm’s Cultural+Performing Arts Studio. “Houston is home to one of the largest Ismaili Muslim populations in North America, and the new center will serve as a place where community members can learn, pray, and engage in fellowship. Our team is privileged to have been chosen for a project that will have such a lasting impact on the local community and beyond.”
Feb. 8, 2019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019
Farshid Moussavi to design first Ismaili Center in the USA
Iranian-born British architect Farshid Moussavi has been selected ahead of Rem Koolhaas, Jeanne Gang and David Chipperfield to design an Ismaili cultural centre in Houston, Texas.
The London-based architect will work with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Hanif Kara of structural engineering firm AKT II and Paul Westlake of design firm DLR Group to design the Ismaili Center for an 11-acre (4.5-hectare) site in downtown Houston.
Spearheaded by Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, the centre will be the first dedicated to the Shia Ismaili Muslim community in the United States, and the seventh worldwide, following outposts in London, Lisbon, Dubai, Toronto, British Columbia and Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan.
Farshid Moussavi "honoured" to design Ismaili Center Houston
Moussavi said she was honoured to work on the project: "It will bring Houston's diverse communities together in a unique space for cultural, educational and social activities."
"Our team brings a broad perspective for the Ismaili Center, with diverse skills and experience in international practice, scholarly research, multidisciplinary thinking and delivering cultural projects successfully in the United States," she added.
Ismaili Centre by Charles Correa
The Houston site will be the second in North America, following the Toronto hub, which was completed in 2015
Moussavi's proposal, for a plot that runs along the city's waterway, was selected as the winner of a competition on 5 February 2019, ahead of Koolhaas, Gang and Chipperfield.
"The evaluation and selection of these architects was both intense and enlightening," said the president of the Ismaili Council for the USA, Barkat Fazal.
"The interest from many world-renowned architects for the opportunity to design an Ismaili Center was a reminder of the global stature that an Ismaili Center, and indeed any project by the Ismaili Imamat, holds in the architectural and built environment community."
Cultural centre to "elevate city's architectural landscape"
Few details have been revealed about Moussavi's design but it will likely to follow the principles of the community's buildings, which aim to protect the core values of the Ismaili Muslim community. Each centre is intended to merge the principles of Islamic design with the surrounding city to make them architecturally unique.
Moussavi's design will be accompanied by gardens designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz, which also worked on Houston's Memorial Park, and the nearby Tolerance Sculptures, a monument built to celebrate diversity in the city.
Fumihiko Maki unveils Aga Khan Centre in London's King's Cross
"Ismaili Centers are symbolic markers of the permanent presence and core values of the Ismaili community around the world," said the Ismaili Community.
"[The Center in Houston] will enrich Houston's diverse community and elevate the city's architectural landscape."
The Ismaili Center Houston marks a major development for the Ismaili community, or USA Jamat, whose origins in the states date back to 1960s. Today, there are communities in 25, with "a large presence in Texas".
Ismaili Center Houston will be second outpost in North America
While the first in the US, The Houston site will be the second in North America, following the Toronto hub, completed in 2015 by Indian firm Charles Correa Associates and local studio Moriyama & Teshima Architects.
The project shares a patch of parkland with Fumihiko Maki's Aga Khan Museum, which showcases a collection of art and artefacts that charts a history of Muslim civilisations over the last 1,000 years.
Moussavi developed acclaim in the architecturally industry as the co-founder of the now-defunct Foreign Office Architects – the studio she founded in 1993 with her ex-husband Alejandro Zaera-Polo. She established her eponymous office in 2011, and has completed projects including the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and Victoria Beckham's London boutique.
World-renowned architects to design the Ismaili Center Houston
The Ismaili Center Houston will be located on an 11-acre site along the city’s main waterway, the Buffalo Bayou.
UK-based architect Farshid Moussavi has been selected to lead the design of the Ismaili Center, Houston — the first Ismaili Center in the USA.
The Center’s design team also includes Thomas L. Woltz, of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects; Hanif Kara, co-founder of structural engineering firm AKT II and professor in practice, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Paul Westlake of DLR Group, who leads the firm’s Global Cultural+Performing Arts Studio, as the architect of record.
The selection of architects follows the announcement made by Mawlana Hazar Imam during his Diamond Jubilee visit to the USA in March 2018 to build a high-profile Center in Houston.
The Jamat across the United States expressed gratitude and excitement at the possibilities and aspirations that an Ismaili Center represents for the USA and global Jamat. Ismaili Centers are symbolic markers of the permanent presence and core values of the Ismaili community around the world. The Center in Houston will be the first in the United States, and seventh globally. It will enrich Houston’s diverse community and elevate the city’s architectural landscape.
Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner welcomed the announcement. “The Ismaili Center will be a place where Houstonians of all backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life will find engaging, thoughtful, and compassionate programs, and people. That will be in keeping with Ismaili values and the values of the Ismaili leader, the Aga Khan, who last visited Houston in March 2018. It’s fitting that the Center will be designed by a world-renowned architect who has lived, studied and worked around the world, and that the green space will be designed by a landscape architect who has already worked on a major Houston park,” he said. “This is a milestone for our city.”
Ms Moussavi’s previous projects include the acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, USA; a three-story flagship store for Victoria Beckham in London, UK; the Yokohama International Cruise Terminal in Japan; London’s Ravensbourne College of Media and Communication; and the Torrevieja Auditorium and Madrid Carabanchel Social Housing Development, in Spain. Moussavi also served as chair of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture Master Jury in 2004 and was a member of the Award’s Steering Committee from 2005-2015.
“The evaluation and selection of these architects was both intense and enlightening. The interest from many world-renowned architects for the opportunity to design an Ismaili Center was a reminder of the global stature that an Ismaili Center, and indeed any project by the Ismaili Imamat, holds in the architectural and built environment community,” remarked Dr. Barkat Fazal, President of the Ismaili Council for the USA.
Moussavi is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she is now a professor, and has previously taught at Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of California in Los Angeles.
Commenting on the appointment, Farshid Moussavi stated, “Our team brings a broad perspective for the Ismaili Center, with diverse skills and experience in international practice, scholarly research, multidisciplinary thinking and delivering cultural projects successfully in the United States. I am honored to partner with the Ismaili Muslim community to design the new Ismaili Center in Houston. It will bring Houston’s diverse communities together in a unique space for cultural, educational and social activities.”
Houston is among the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the United States and ranks first in total park acreage among major US cities. Green spaces and the external environment have comprised key elements of Ismaili Centers globally. Renowned landscape architect Thomas L. Woltz, who will design the green space surrounding the new Center, was named the Design Innovator of the Year by the Wall Street Journal Magazine in 2013. His works include the design of Hudson Yards in New York, Memorial Park in Houston, and the Aga Khan Garden in Edmonton, Canada.
Each Ismaili Center serves as an ambassadorial building, reflecting traditional principles of Islamic design, while incorporating contemporary elements from the society in which it is situated. The selected site in Houston will become the seventh such building — the other six are located in London, Vancouver, Lisbon, Dubai, Dushanbe, and Toronto.
As expressed by Mawlana Hazar Imam at the opening of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land in 2002, “Since all that we see and do resonates on the faith, the aesthetics of the environments we build and the quality of the interactions that take place within them reverberate on our spiritual lives.” Hazar Imam went on to say “As the leader of a Muslim community, and particularly one that now resides in twenty-five countries on four continents, the physical representation of Islamic values is particularly important to me. It should reflect who we are in terms of our beliefs, our cultural heritage and our relation to the needs and contexts in which we live in today’s world.”
The Ismaili community in the United States began with students arriving in the 1960s and is established today in almost every state, with a large presence in Texas. For a number of years, the USA Jamat has organized educational and cultural events in collaboration with local and state governments, universities, museums, and faith organizations, to develop greater understanding between communities.
Reflecting their centuries-old tradition of service, members of the Jamat, young and old, have worked with cities, schools, and civil society organizations to assist those in need, including during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, when over 2,500 volunteers quickly gathered to help their affected friends and neighbors in the greater Houston area.
Set against the backdrop of the iconic Tolerance Statues, which were made possible in part through a gift from Mawlana Hazar Imam to the city of Houston, and along the city’s main waterway, the Buffalo Bayou, the 11-acre site serves as an ideal location for the first Ismaili Center in the USA, one that will make a significant contribution to the city of Houston, the state of Texas, and the wider United States.
Apr 2, 2019, 02:33pm
Project To Build Ismaili Center Houston, First in U.S., Gains Its Design Team
Cynthia Lescalleet, Contributor, Real Estate - I profile intriguing real estate projects in and around Houston.
A prime, vacant parcel near Houston's Buffalo Bayou and sited just west of downtown is slated for the first Ismaili Center in the U.S., joining a series of six other such facilities operating around the world.
The 11-acre Houston tract, currently appraised at $30.3 million, was purchased in 2006 by the Aga Khan Foundation as the future site for the center. As mandated, its role is to be a place of peace, prayer, hope, humility and brotherhood, a project update says.
Long-planned, the Houston project recently entered the design phase following an international competition that netted London-based architect Farshid Moussavi in collaboration with Paul Westlake of DLR Group as architect of record and landscape architect Thomas L. Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz. NBW is also working on redevelopment of Houston's Memorial Park and Rothko Chapel campus.
Built over the past four decades, previously completed Ismaili centers are located in London, Vancouver, Toronto, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe.
In Houston, plans for the campus include spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and reflection, and spiritual contemplation for the diverse Ismaili community — as well as the city's multi-cultural one, thus "fostering an appreciation of pluralism," the design team announcement says.
Although few project details have been released, the center in Houston is expected to include a Jamatkhana, which is a place for worship, with additional spaces to accommodate the center's "ambassadorial" roles, meaning outreach, knowledge and fellowship between people of all faiths and walks of life.
A construction start has not been determined for the project, notes Omar Samji, a volunteer with the Ismaili Council in Houston.
The site slopes toward Buffalo Bayou, which has come out of its banks many times over the years, most recently during Hurricane Harvey.
While flooding from that 2017 storm did affect lower-elevations of the center's site, Samji says, it did not delay the project. Rather it provided useful data for planning flood management and mitigation and landscaping.
Mawlana Hazar Imam toured the site of the Ismaili Center Houston yesterday, 22 November, alongside the Center’s design team and the leadership of the USA Jamat. During his trip, Mawlana Hazar Imam also met with City of Houston Mayor the Honorable Sylvester Turner.
The Ismaili Center Houston will be the seventh Center, joining others in London, Vancouver, Lisbon, Dubai, Dushanbe, and Toronto. Ismaili Centers serve to reflect, illustrate and represent the Ismaili community’s intellectual and spiritual understanding of Islam, its social conscience, its organization, its discipline, its forward outlook, and its positive attitude towards the societies in which it lives. They are symbolic markers of the permanent presence of the Ismaili community, and are a symbol of the confluence between the spiritual and the secular in Islam.
During Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to the United States in March 2018, he graciously confirmed his intent to build the Ismaili Center Houston. In February of this year, another milestone announcement was made confirming Farshid Moussavi as the building architect and Thomas Woltz as the landscape architect, both of whom joined Hazar Imam for the site tour this week.
Earlier this year, Mayor Turner said, “The Ismaili Center will be a place where Houstonians of all backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life will find engaging, thoughtful, and compassionate programs, and people. That will be in keeping with Ismaili values and the values of the Ismaili leader, the Aga Khan, who last visited Houston in March 2018. It’s fitting that the Center will be designed by a world-renowned architect who has lived, studied and worked around the world, and that the green space will be designed by a landscape architect who has already worked on a major Houston park.”
President of the Ismaili Council for the United States, Al-Karim Alidina, said, “We are most grateful for Hazar Imam’s visit to progress this milestone project. We hope that the Ismaili Center Houston will be a marker of the permanency of the US Jamat, a bridge to civil society and a symbol of hope and pluralism.”
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