As a real estate firm based in Houston, it’s only natural that two of our biggest loves are the city of Houston and stunning architecture. Charles Tapley contributed so much to both, thus, we think his is a life all Houstonians need to rediscover. Tapley was an architect and landscape architect who left a lasting mark on many of the city’s most recognizable and celebrated landmarks. Buffalo Bayou Park, for example, would not be what it is today without him.
His architecture firm, Charles Tapley & Associates, was heavily involved in the revitalization of Buffalo Bayou and the surrounding area that began in the early 1970s. Tapley was at the head of this revitalization as the design visionary and master planner. With sustainability and environmental preservation in mind, Tapley created the Buffalo Bayou Strategy in 1977, which serves as the foundation for everything that has been done in recent years to make Buffalo Bayou a beautiful and heavily utilized natural resource for our city. It was all laid out in his master plan, a detailed forty-foot-long drawing which could be found on his studio floor.
Tranquility Park, the downtown space commemorating the first landing on the moon by Apollo 11, is another one of his noteworthy contributions to Houston’s urban landscape. Opened to the public in 1979, Tranquility Park is a magnificent mixture of grassy embankments, serene pools, walkways and fountains located right next to City Hall. It plays host to a number of special events each year, including the Houston Children’s Festival, which was selected as “one of the world’s 300 unmissable events” by Frommer’s Travel Guides.
Tapley’s impact on Houston may be most widely felt though, in the impressive number of remarkable buildings and homes he designed all over the city. His buildings were often designed in the mid-century modern style and are known for being light-filled spaces sensitive to their settings and environment. A long list of Houston churches (St. Cecilia Catholic Parish, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Parish, Northwoods Presbyterian Church, Christ the King Lutheran Church, and Covenant Presbyterian Church) are all products of his architectural mastery. In addition, he designed numerous homes around town in respected neighborhoods that included, among others, Southampton, Tanglewood, and Memorial. Many of these homes featured custom designs for noteworthy Houstonians such as Grace David, art collector Joan Fleming, and photographer Gay Block.
Boulevard Realty agent Luanne Marshall has the honor of being the listing agent for one of the aforementioned homes, located at 8822 Prichett. Only the second home Tapley ever designed, Prichett was custom built for Ross McElreath, a long-time, prominent Houston CPA, who graduated from Rice University in 1954, just a year before Tapley. McElreath was known for his lifelong involvement with both local and national accounting professional associations and his many contributions to Houston non-profit organizations.
The home, built in 1959, is a distinctive mid-century modern house full of impressive architectural features, and highlighted by open, window filled spaces which invite the outside in. It sits in the heart of Meyerland, a southwest Houston neighborhood which was just being developed around that time. In fact, the ribbon-cutting for the subdivision, which was presided over by Vice President (at the time) Richard Nixon, was held only a few years earlier in 1955.
The single-family homes going up in Meyerland at this time immediately became quite popular, and with the grand opening of Meyerland Plaza Shopping Center in 1957, the neighborhood’s popularity naturally only increased. Meyerland Plaza remains a celebrated shopping destination today, and with Bellaire, NRG Stadium, and the 610 Loop all nearby, present-day Meyerland is still a very attractive home destination for many Houstonians.
Tapley continues to leave his mark on the city of Houston even after death, as he professionally mentored several talented Houston architects and inspired countless others through architectural classes taught both at the University of Houston, and at his alma mater, Rice University. With all he did for the city of Houston and contributed to it architecturally, it should come as no surprise that he received the AIA Houston Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.This entry was posted in Recognize, Rediscover, Revisit
- 610 Loop
- AIA Houston
- AIA Houston Lifetime Achievement Award
- Apollo 11
- buffalo bayou
- buffalo bayou park
- Buffalo Bayou Strategy
- Charles Tapley
- Charles Tapley & Associates
- Christ the King Lutheran Church
- city hall
- Covenant Presbyterian Church
- Frommer's Travel Guides
- Gay Block
- Grace David
- Houston Children's Festival
- Joan Fleming
- Luanne Marshall
- Meyerland Plaza
- Meyerland Plaza Shopping Center
- Northwoods Presbyterian Church
- NRG Stadium
- Rice University
- Ross McElreath
- St. Cecilia Catholic Parish
- St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Parish
- Tranquility Park
- University of Houston