Sipping a glass of white wine, stylish gray eyeglasses framing a still-youthful face that belies the white hair on his head, Alan Ritchie leans back in his chair. The Englishman is in a reflective mood, and he flashes a little mischievous smile. “It was just a matter of time,” he says.
The internationally-recognized architect is talking about the sudden surge of vertical living that’s coming to Houston, all the would-be Versailles in the Sky in various stages of development across the region. There are more than 40 new high-rise and upper mid-rise buildings, stretching all the way from The Woodlands (Treviso at Waterway Square) through downtown, midtown, River Oaks, Memorial and the Museum District. Sitting in the brand-new sales center of one of these opulent cloud reachers (the upcoming 16-story Aurora), safely ensconced in a glass-walled conference room as a preview party goes on outside the glass, Ritchie and Marko Dasigenis, the principle Houston-based architect for Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects (PJAR), can see the city changing beyond these see-through walls — and the clutch of well-dressed people enjoying the complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
“What we’re seeing here has been happening in the rest of the world for many, many years,” Dasigenis says. Ritchie nods. “It’s such an easy way of life. There’s no need to worry about getting someone to do the yard, no need to worry about where your packages are going, no need to worry about who’s going to watch your home when you’re on vacation,” he notes.
“It’s true turn-key living. Simple.”