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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 5, 2009, 8:14 PM
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HOUSTON | Chase Tower | 1,002 FT / 305 M | 75 FLOORS | 1982

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…
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Old Posted Aug 5, 2009, 8:14 PM
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HOUSTON | JPMorgan Chase Tower | 1,002 Feet | 75 stories | 1982

For some reason, I really like this tower. Even though there is nothing about it that really stands out (aside from being the tallest 5 sided building on earth), it's a nice building. Little dated but really nice. It should be about 100 feet tall to make Houston have a really amazing skyline however.
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Old Posted Aug 5, 2009, 8:48 PM
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I think Houston's minimal slabs look really nice.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2009, 12:47 AM
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simple can be classy
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2009, 2:21 AM
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^ It does look kinda motely. On some of those pictures, it reminds me of what a skyscraper would look like if designed by an architect in Communist Russia.

Oh..and Morgan after Ike (big pic).

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Old Posted Aug 7, 2009, 4:43 AM
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Up close it has an OK texture to it, but from further away it just seems so incredibly bland. The design is not worthy of the height in any way.
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Old Posted Aug 7, 2009, 8:00 AM
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never was a fan of the "fifth" side...the one with the larger windows.

apart from the blown out windows and plywood, i prefer it from this angle:

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Old Posted Aug 11, 2009, 9:58 AM
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I agree that by itself, this building isn't really deserving of its height. But it provides a decent contrast to Wells Fargo Plaza, which IMO should have been Houston's tallest.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2009, 11:15 PM
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Design wise we can all agree that it’s not the best of the best (to me it’s like a taller 1155 6th Ave. in Manhattan), however there is no denying the impact of the tower. It’s an ‘in your face’ type of building, and for that alone the building appeals to me. Honestly the façade isn’t terrible, and with time it’s one of things that can appeal.
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Old Posted Aug 28, 2009, 11:27 PM
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IMHO, this building looks OK photographed, but it is more impressive seen in person.





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Old Posted Nov 23, 2009, 7:53 PM
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Egads! the cladding is awful. Any plans to reface it ?

And yes, the '5th side' is far-and-away, the most interesting perspective for me too.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2009, 2:14 AM
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To me, Chase is sort of like the WTC twin towers: not particularly exciting but the height certainly stands out. Seems like it would have been a lot nicer looking if it had been a pink granite color.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2009, 4:44 AM
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^^^ Oh please no, we have one of those in Chicago and its know as the "pink beast" to many.

311 S Wacker:


wikipedia

I don't mind it too much, but I think one 1000' pink tower is more than enough for the whole world.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2009, 5:23 PM
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I think the difficulty for the Chase Tower is that it's a bit of a "sore thumb" for the rest of the skyline... just no where near the level of uniqueness that BofA, Wells Fargo or the former Enron buildings capture.

I say we get a really big trailer, and just move Williams tower to downtown, and put the Chase Tower in the Galleria. Now THAT would be cool.
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  #15  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2009, 6:10 PM
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Repeat: any plans to reface or at least clean up the cladding. It looks awful.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2009, 7:05 PM
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^Totally disagree, in that it would ruin the Williams Tower. Philip Johnson's philosophy on the Williams was 'tower on the prairie', a total nod to Bertram Goodhue's Nebraska State Capitol building. Having it downtown would have produced a different design solution.

As far as the Chase Tower, I think it's mainly the granite color/material that makes the tower so banal. The blah gray makes it look like an architect's study model on the skyline. I think it would be interesting as a re-clad - stainless steel with a blue/green glass or something. Make the windows look expressive vertically rather than punched.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2009, 1:03 AM
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I think it would look good if it were reclad all black. Think of the Trump World Tower in NYC. Just not as sheer.

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Old Posted Nov 25, 2009, 2:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plinko View Post
^Totally disagree, in that it would ruin the Williams Tower. Philip Johnson's philosophy on the Williams was 'tower on the prairie', a total nod to Bertram Goodhue's Nebraska State Capitol building. Having it downtown would have produced a different design solution.

As far as the Chase Tower, I think it's mainly the granite color/material that makes the tower so banal. The blah gray makes it look like an architect's study model on the skyline. I think it would be interesting as a re-clad - stainless steel with a blue/green glass or something. Make the windows look expressive vertically rather than punched.
More like "tower on the prairie at the edge of the piney woods". The natural edge is about a mile north of Williams. But that's just a detail. Regarding Chase, anyone have an opinion as to whether it might actually be re-clad some day? Re-clads do happen, so maybe we'll get lucky with Chase.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2009, 2:56 AM
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  #20  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2009, 3:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plinko View Post
It could definitely use better lighting…
I'm definitely with you on that one! I've never understood why Houston likes to keep its tall buildings so dark at night. Most of the ones that are lighted are lit up with those cheap looking, inefficient, incandescent Christmas lights year round & it just makes Houston's skyline look like lighting was an after thought, unlike in a couple of other Texas cities.

I really would like to see Chase Tower do some blue & white (Chase colors) LED's at the very top. I wonder who I might contact about this?
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