Human Connection

The stress is high in today’s world, especially in the United States, and it affects our happiness.  There are deadlines to meet, daily duties to perform, the need and want for quality time to spend with friends and family, trying to keep pace with the constant changes in our life, earning a living, and unfortunately last, or even missing for many, enjoying a rich and fulfilling personal life.  Most adults in such a fast paced urban setting generally face the same issues of keeping it all going.  For years people have been taught that stress makes them sick.  People who experience stress have a 42% greater chance of dying, but this is actually only true with people who believe stress is harmful.  Stress has been turned into the enemy.  

Our goal is to make our community better at stress rather than to do away with  it.  When we view stress as a positive response by our body in order to help us rise to the occasion, we will experience a healthier biological change similar to joy or courage.  Oxytocin is a hormone that is released when you hug another person for several seconds.  It is just as much a part of the stress response as adrenaline.  Oxytocin enhances empathy, motivates people to help each other, and drives people to strengthen relationships.  As people help each other more they release more oxytocin and in return the same hormone heals their stress induced damage.   The human body has a built in mechanism for stress resilience and that mechanism is human connection.
Houston Green Life Center
The Houston Green Life Center is a sustainable design project created for Green Design Principles.  Green Design Principles is an experimental course at the Art Institute of Houston founded by associate professor Diane Alexander,  design instructor and ASID award winning designer Rex Spencer,  and Green Building Resource Center program director Steve Stelzer.   The original project included three boards which were shown at the Green Building Resource Center and presented to Rice University.    The project was designed by interior design students Rob Regan and Ashley Allen with architecture consultation provided by Illinois Institute of Technology graduate Kate Manwaring.  
Green living
The Houston Green Life Center is a multipurpose LEED building located in Buffalo Bayou Park.  The objective of the building is to bring together the surrounding communities and to educate those communities on sustainable living.  The center functions as a recreational center which includes a swimming pool, 24 hour basketball court, weight room, and a yoga studio.   A restaurant serving locally sourced and organic food will be included in the project as well. 

  • Windmills on site are a used as sculptural arand as a source of renewable energy. 
  • Photovoltaics are integrated into the roof.
  • LEDs will be used as the primary light source. 
  •  A large skylight and floor to celling windows will allow natural light to enter the building.
  • A fountain in front of the building aerates the  bayou by pulling water from the surface.
  • A permeable site and pervious concrete are used to water harvest.
  •  Cisterns store rainwater from the green roof.
  • Water harvested from the cistern is used to irrigate vegetable gardens.
  • New bridges connect the Green Center directly
  •  The installation of bike racks and a close proximity  to hiking paths  encourages residents to visit the center on bike or foot. 



There is a strong need in our community for healthy, easily accessible, and inexpensive eating whether it is dining in or out.  Everyone, no matter class or race, deserves a balanced nutrient dense meal.  Grow is a sustainable gold green certified restaurant/kitchen/garden with education being the main priority.  These three moving pieces will offer the community a chance to be involved and to gain vital knowledge needed to live a healthy and civically responsible life.  The indoor/outdoor garden is primarily run by members of our community working the land, hand picking selections based on the menu, and preparing meals in conjunction with our highly trained chefs.  This allows us to educate while keeping costs to a minimum.  The restaurant only uses food directly grown on site or from local farmers.  Above the restaurant is the ever necessary classroom kitchen.  It is designed for anyone looking to learn how to enhance their life through nutrition.  It gives people who otherwise may not be exposed to fresh cooking an opportunity to make smart dining choices.  Grow will be a place where everyone is welcome now matter their circumstance and where people will come together to provide for one another evoking a solid sense of community.