Posted May 16, 2013, 7:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: ATX, HTX, GTX
HOUSTON | Capitol Tower | 579 FT / 167 M | 35 FLOORS
Splashy plans emerge for Houston Club revitalization
The owner of the Houston Club building is planning to replace the decades-old structure with a soaring glass and stone office tower that would stand atop a sleek tunnel- level lobby visible to pedestrians on the streets above it.
The space, designed to be a bright and inviting gathering spot, would be connected to the building's first floor by a wide interior staircase flanked by trees and other greenery.
"Not unlike the Spanish Steps in Rome, it will be a great meeting place," said Jim Furr, managing principal of Gensler, the architecture firm that designed the 34-story tower.
The developer, Skanska USA Commercial Development, unveiled renderings of the proposed building to the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday.
The new tower would mark a significant transformation of the site, which now contains an empty 18-story office building with two smaller adjacent structures.
It would also address a downtown issue, recently highlighted by Mayor Annise Parker, of improving connections between the city's streets and its tunnels.
"There has to be better, more visible open connectors between what happens at the street and what happens in the underground," Parker said to a group of downtown property owners earlier this month.
The new building, currently referred to as Capitol Tower, would contain 700,000 square feet and was designed to meet high standards of environmental sustainability.
Its exterior would feature a "light box" effect, where a portion of the building would glow at night and have a unique reflection during the day.
The north side of the building would offer shade from the sun, which could make the ground level attractive to a restaurant with an outdoor patio.
The tower is still in the planning stages. Skanska said construction likely would not start before a tenant is found for a significant portion of the space.
Now that the last of the Houston Club building's tenants have moved out, interior abatement and other demolition work are about to start in preparation for demolition. Instead of being imploded, the building will be dismantled floor by floor, similar to the relatively recent deconstruction of an old Sheraton hotel on Polk in the southern portion of downtown.
Skanska plans to salvage the Houston Club building's steel and concrete and is hoping to reuse some of the old marble and stone in the new tower.
Michael Mair, executive vice president and regional manager of Skanska USA Commercial Development, said the company evaluated the building's historical significance when it considered taking on the project.
"It does not sit in a historic district. It's not listed on a registry, nor has it been nominated to be on a registry," Mair said. "The building is vintage, but only to 1955."
As it exists, he said, the building is "functionally obsolete." It has shallow floor-to-ceiling heights, small windows and outdated mechanical systems. "The building itself doesn't offer an architectural advantage like, say Esperson or 712 Main," Mair said.
Other big changes are a part of the redevelopment plan.
The pocket park on the northwest corner of the block would go away as the new building and parking garage would encompass the entire block, which is bounded by Capitol, Rusk, Milam and Travis. The park property is owned by Skanska.
The entrance of the building, too, would change from Rusk Street to Capitol, reflecting the building's proposed new name. That name, however, could well change once a major tenant signs up for space.
The entrance would face the new light rail line and the plaza outside the JPMorgan Chase building.
"Our tenants will have unobstructed views to the north," Mair said, noting that the open space in front of the Chase Tower and the nearby performing arts venues don't stand as tall as most downtown buildings. "It's a fabulous, unique site," he said.
Website Launched - http://capitoltowerhouston.com/
Last edited by Urbannizer; Jul 30, 2015 at 8:38 AM.