Designed by I.M. Pei for Hines and the Texas Commerce Bank, the Chase Tower essentially terminates the north end of the downtown Houston skyline. Billed as the world’s tallest 5-sided tower (is that still true?), the building shoots up uninterrupted a full 1,002 feet, capped with a simple parapet and flat roof.
While excessively shear and vertical, the tower’s horizontal bands at the ‘5th side’ and the punched window look (along with its dull battleship color) give the building a little grounding. It’s an interesting dichotomy between the vertical and horizontal, but I would argue that this particular tower isn’t greatly successful at either. The combination of elements gives this tower an almost subtle effect. How a 1000ft+ building can be subtle (especially rising without setbacks) is hard to explain, but this tower is certainly less dominating than the 72 story Wells Fargo Plaza up the street by Keating (SOM).
According to the tower’s website, there used to be a helipad on the roof that is now an antenna farm. Also, the tower was originally supposed to be 80 stories, but was shortened due to FAA concerns with nearby Hobby Airport. Had it been completed to 80 stories, the tower would still be the tallest in the Americas outside New York and Chicago.
There is an elevator skylobby on the 60th floor that is open to the public during business hours and they do let you go up there and take photos (I would suggest checking in with security though in the lobby).
The tower lost a large number of windows during Hurricane Ike in 2008 and apparently there are a number of wind studies being performed to really determine why so many were lost. Jmancuso has some excellent photos of the damage from just after the hurricane hit.
BTW, can any of you Houston guys tell me why the tower’s website claims that this building is 1,049 ft (319m) tall? I’ve seen that height before somewhere, but this building is usually cited as either 1,000 ft or 1,002 ft. It’s also well known that the Library Tower in LA is taller than this (taking the title of tallest West of the Mississippi) and that one is 1,018 ft. Just curious.
The cladding has not aged well at all. The granite has stained very badly over the years, mostly from what I suspect are the window gaskets and/or dis-similar metals used for flashing and waterproofing. Something is amiss.
The ‘5th side’ is clad in stainless steel, which combined with the horizontal nature of the fenestration gives that side of the tower a much more open and interesting feel.
It could definitely use better lighting…