A Texas Island on the Next Convention Center Hotel

These renderings of the Marriott Marquis show the shapes of things coming — by 2016, according to current plans — to Downtown. Planned for the corner of Walker St. and Avenidas de las Americas, the hotel will stand facade-to-facade across Discovery Green with its older brother, the Hilton-Americas, doubling the number of rooms that serve the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Morris Architects, teamed up with Rida Development, is responsible for the design of this 30-story tower, which will have more than 1,000 guest rooms and exactly one 40,000-sq.-ft. grand ballroom. On the deck atop that ballroom appears to be some fully realized Texas mythology: the state as an island, surrounded by a chlorinated “lazy river.” Guests will tube around it, enjoying what’s more typically considered a Hill Country pastime.

And this is what the hotel is supposed to look like around dusk:


Shops, restaurants, and bars will be at street level, contributing to the Discovery Green area’s pedestrian animation. Houston First plans to build a 1,800-space parking garage on the northern end of the site.

Renderings: Morris Architects

24 Comment

  • Awesome. A few more hotels and we can get some serious convention business.

  • The Shamrock II?

  • Build it and they will come. In their cars.

  • It will be interesting to see what kind of clientele this place will attract.

  • I am a little bit embarrassed to admit how giddy this design makes me. As a 4 time a year conference attendee, little things like a lazy river in the shape of Texas really do can make a hotel–and city–stand out.

    (Wow. I can’t believe I admitted that…I think that was just acknowledgement of how much of a yuppie I have become).

  • I like the lazy river idea, even though it looks like El Paso is a waterfall into the concrete below.

  • I am unconvinced that ‘they will come’. The professional organizations to which I belong have Houston, oh, say, LAST on their lists of places to convene; the last such meeting I can recall was in 1992. Any east coast or west coast city is infinitely preferable at any time of year, though exceptions are made for New Orleans. It is said that Houston would have more conventions if only it had more hotels; I might also add, more mass transit, less humidity, fewer mosquitoes, better location, nicer downtown, closer intnl airport, fewer Republicans, etc.

  • I wonder if I’ll be able to obtain a guest pass to the pool ;)

  • I agree with Chef for the most part. It seems to me that the most common events at the convention center are ones aimed at local audiences–gun shows, bridal and quinceria shows, comic conventions, art fairs, Houston Public Library’s annual book sale, etc. (Last I heard, they rent a hall at Brown Convention Centerto administer the CFA exam–not a very glamorous use of the space, but rentals are rentals.) There are some conventions that are inherently local (the Texas Library Association, for example), and we can expect those to come to Brown every few years.

    Now some conventions make a deliberate effort to be in a different geographic location every year. The American Library Association is one of those. The idea is that would-be convention goers might not be able to easily afford attending every year, but if occasionally the convention was in their town or nearby, that would enable them to attend.

    Additional hotel rooms might help lure some of those conventions.

  • what is the thing on the top of the building (see the last picture)?

  • Now if we could just get some funding to have a convention center to be proud of designed and realized…

  • The national organization for my profession (vague enough, right?) *finally* put Houston on the docket for our annual fall meeting. I fear that attendance will be low, however, and will immediately fall off the roster (as it has for other car-centric cities). When I go to a meeting in an unfamiliar city, I prefer not to drive & I like to have something fun to do near the convention center. That said, I really like the renderings & the fact that the pool is outdoors–the indoor pool at the Hilton makes you feel like you walked into a chlorine factory.

  • I agree with Chef, especially the part about fewer Republicans.

  • the marathon and Offshore oil technology conventions are the largest conventions. I just dont see how the math will work for this thing to be profitable. IMO it’s another case of city hall throwing good money at a bad idea/project.

  • Chef and AO are mad because everyone doesn’t think the same way they do. Awwww, poor things.

  • I stand by my original comment on the tax deal to get this thing going. This is downtown’s version of the Bayport cruiseship terminal. Downtown hotel space does fill up when there are major events like the marathon, Final Four/Superbowl/Allstar game, and for a few big conventions. But, the rest of the time, demand for hotel space downtown is not strong at all. On an average week with no big event, hotel prices downtown range from $180-280 for very nice accomodations. In cities like Boston, NY, San Fran and Chicago, you would be lucky to find bottom of the barrel accomodations for prices like that. Add 1000 rooms to that mix and someone is going to go out of business.

  • Great looking building.
    My guess is this will continue the improving trend around the GRB. A few years ago, there was a wasteland around the GRB, now there are plenty of restaurants, bars and entertainment. I took my kids to Discovery Green this weekend and had a fantastic time. This area is being used by Houstonians AND out-of-towners.

  • @Old School, Thank you for doing the math and pointing out the obvious. However, I dont think these rooms will go for $200 a night except the big events weeknds, maybe 4 or 5 times a year. the rest of the year these will be priceline 4 star $120 a night and they’ll need to charge 20% hotel tax and $20 parking to get it up some. Taxpayers will get shafted on this one.

  • The biggest reason we don’t have more conventions is no mass transit to the airport. Yes, it’s hot and humid here. So is D.C., Baltimore, Philly, New York, New Orleans, etc.

    Houston is a great city, and the bayou and Discovery Green improvements, along with the Navigation promenade are making it better! Quit complaining and volunteer or pay some $$$ to make the changes you want. Or are you waiting for “someone else” to do it?

  • Downtown needs more general business travellers, not just conventions.

    Downtown and the convention center area have been riding a wave of positive momentum for the past 20 years. This wave has accelerated substantially in the past 5 or so with light rail, night life, restaurants, parks, and hotels. I ride my bike around downtown for pleasure on some evenings (unthinkable 15 years ago) and am always impressed by the level of activity after dark. Restuarants, bars, music venues and Discovery Green are always hopping. Another hotel can substantially increase this level of activity and hopefully sustain it by attracting business travellers, not just convention goers.

    I am a business traveller, and work for a multi-national based here in Houston. When we have out-of-town guests, they never stay downtown – EVER. Actually, they prefer to stay where they can easily walk to entertainment, dinner, and bars, and quickly catch a cab to anywhere else they need to go. Usually, they go to City Center, the Woodlands, and Town Center in Sugar Land. When I ask around the office about this, most of my coworkers (suburbanites who have not been downtown in years, except for an errant Astros game) immediately wrinkle their noses at the idea of sending someone to stay there after dark. Word has not gotten out about the amenities downtown, and this hotel will help.

  • This hotel (and hopefully future ones) will be important to continue to land the big events such as all star games, super bowls, college bowl games, soccer matches, world cup (?), etc. We will already have our major venues connected by rail once this is completed so the infrastructure is in place for the big events, not just conventions. At this point we need more hotels to become more competitive with our peers. Not much we can do about the weather, except we do have mild winters (especially this year).

  • Another reason why EXXON reamining downtown or nearby would’ve really made a positive difference. Imagine the number of business visitors and demand for amenities. If not the KBR site, then maybe the Hardy Yard facility? There is plenty of room for the campus-styled development they pursued.

  • The lazy river pool will be your best seller! Do you know that there is not one hotel in Houston that has a lazy river type pool? I have to go the hotel L’Auberge to use their lazy river pool and I am an adult! Not to mention the fun of gambling. Think Houston.