Chevron’s New 50-Story Tower on Site of Downtown Y: Bigger, Boxier, Just as Blue

To form a power trio with the 2 curvaceous Enron hand-me-downs it has occupied since 2004, Chevron will be building a more boxy 50-story tower on the urban meadow left behind when Kenneth Franzheim’s Downtown YMCA came down in 2011. Chevron announced today that the HOK-designed building at 1600 Louisiana and Pease will provide 1.7 million sq. ft. of space, including training and conference rooms, more parking, and a cafeteria. This rendering suggests there will also be plinth-top common areas and — as though a subtle homage to what preceded it on this 85,000-sq.-ft. lot — a gym.


Renderings: HOK

43 Comment

  • Looks beautiful. I think the Enron towers are some of the most attractive buildings in downtown, and one more skyscraper in that style will be a welcome addition to the skyline. Very cool!

  • Thank you, I’ve been waiting for this post all day. Been watching the crews fence in that grassy lot.

  • Nice to see more interaction with the street scape in the design. We are learning in Houston. Slowly, but surely.

  • Would have like to see a bit more interesting archtecture, but the renderings still look beutiful and the building will no doubt fit in well with the other two chevron buildings.its good to see more construction downtown.

  • With all of the construction seemingly in the suburbs these days, it’s good to see the skyline of our city growing!

  • Umm … but, the 2 other buildings aren’t really blue. They might reflect the color of blue sky on a clear day, but they’re not blue in the manner that they’re depicted in the renderings. So, that makes me wonder how the new building will really look. The other thing the rendering tells me is that it will be boxier than the existing buildings. Anyway, its been a long time since HOK designed a major tower here, I think, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

  • The Chevron announcement mentions more parking but its hard to see where. Maybe a parking garage across the street behind the daycare center?

  • The original Enron tower aka Four Allen Center is still the best of the bunch.

  • This building is testament that it takes deep pockets in order for a tower of this stature to get built in downtown nowadays. With so many energy companies building low- and mid-rises in the suburbs, I bet this’ll be the most prominent downtown tower to rise for some time to come. Future proposals might only rise 30-40 stories to satisfy the financing and lease demand variables owner-occupied projects don’t have to face.

  • What a beautiful addition for the skyline…love it.

  • Well at least they’re keeping the exterior glass the same hue as their other two buildings –frankly, the new building is uninspiring architecturally, however I’ll wait to see it completed before passing final judgement

  • Oh and 50 stories where they plan its footprint will have almost zero impact on the skyline, it will be blocked from the money view by the former Continental Headquarters–they should have added at least another 5 storied–ah well, whatever, it’s not a very good building anyway

  • I have recently wondered if it is creepy working in one of the (depicted) X-Enron towers. Like living in a house where a murder was previously committed.

  • The render shows a new crosswalk connecting the parking garage to the north that Chevron purchased earlier this year, and it also looks as if they might put something on top. Did anyone else see that in the picture?

  • Looks sharp at first glance, Can’t we design something that’s ultimately not a “Box”.Could it all be about, cost. I want something that looks like the Dubai Architecture. There you have it, cost.

  • Hey Shannon! Look next to the Continental Building and see how much a non-impact this building is. I realize it’s just some amateur photo-shopping, but it does give a good sense of where it will be (and what some other proposed towers might look on the skyline).

  • Enron Building is no Hand me down! That is a beautiful Architectural Land site accomplishment, any owner or tenant can go down even Chevron.

  • @DJ Hoke, those Dubai buildings look great from the outside, but are awful for usability, as it is very difficult to fit good floor plans in them. They end up with lots of wasted space.

  • That pic is not to scale–the Continental Headquarters is 52 stories, no way this building towers over it like this ridiculous image–talk about false advertisin–if it was built as rendered it would be 60 stories –for reference the former 4 Allen Center is 50 stories and the newer Peli designed Enron South Tower is 40–this photo is clearly not to scale–very sloppy PR

  • It’s lamented that not one of these new builds are above 50 stories–I rarely even notice Hines’ Mainplace ( or whatever they’re calling it now) and I doubt I notice this building after it’s completed–I hold out hope that the lot in front of One Shell will be developed and a skyscraper to rival the building originally slated to rise there takes seed–Comcast built a 900 foot building in Philadelphia for f*cks sake, why can’t one! developer build a building of real stature here–the skyline downtown looks essentially just like it did when I was a kid in the 80’s –all this talk about a building boom in Houston and you look at the skyline and say–really???

  • @Shannon – I don’t know the exact limit, but my understanding is that the height of Houston’s downtown skyscrapers are limited by the FAA due to downtown’s proximity to Hobby. If someone wants to chime in with specifics, I’m all ears.

  • Shannon, an office building that goes over 50 floors will encompass approx. 1.75 to 2 million square feet of leasable space. If you know of any tenants looking right now for that kind of Class A office space I think you should go to the courthouse, incorporate as a developer, and start construction.
    Just about all the large leasing activity in the past 16 months has been for suburban space. Exxon could easily grab 2 million sq. feet, but chose to locate to their own campus in Spring. Phillips, Conoco, FMC Technologies, GE, etc., are all taking space past the Beltway. There’s just not a good business case to build millions of square feet of downtown office space on speculation at this point, and I doubt many lenders would back a project for that reason.

  • Not to mention that the Exxon Building refurbishment will put over 1 million square feet back into the market, assumed to be Class A if they get the tunnel / skywalk conenction. Combine that with other existing proposals (Hines etc.) and a 50+ story tower doesn’t make sense for quite awhile unless a very very large tenant (apart from Chevron) relocates to Houston.

  • Houston has very little class AA office space, really only Mainplace(or BG group or whatever they’re calling it) instead of all of these 45 story buildings, his about one of 70, I understand economics (I was Plan II at UT)–and I get that they don’t want to over build the market and I understand the cost increases of buildings over 600 feet, however I think if Hines built a 900+ foot Class AA building it would be a success because Hines hires top talent, uses the best materials and has a stellar reputation—having said this I’m resigned to the fact that one won’t get built, it will be 45 story buildings very 10 years of so–Hines now saves the best big buildings for Chicago

  • @Shannon – How does Plan II at UT imply an understanding of economics?

  • I took economics as part of my self created major, my Plan II–at any rate I have an undergraduate understanding–I’m no PH.d Walt, however I think I get the gist of the economics of property development, it’s not rocket science (which was not

  • Part of my Plan II

  • Shannon is saying she’s smart, which may or may not be the case.

    – NOT Plan II UT grad

  • We won’t get a large demand for new high-rise buildings in downtown until we can get middle class families to move back into the city’s core.

    We won’t get middle class families to move back to the city’s core until we improve the education we can provide their children.

    We won’t significantly improve education in the city of Houston until we have universal school choice vouchers that allow families to send their children to any school they choose.

    HISD is killing our city – which is why all the building growth is in closer proximity to better suburban school districts. The companies are moving to where their workforce already lives.

  • I’m a male–Shannon is an Irish male name–Shanna is the female derivative –and I am a Plan II UT grad–Sig Ep Fraternity—and a member of the swim team —

  • Uh, I’m a male–Shannon is an Irish boys name meaning ancient and wise–tho I have a feeling JR will doubt that as well

  • When it comes to office buildings, this is not “Field of Dreams”. Just because you build it does not mean they will come. But hey, I’m only an SMU grad and someone with a masters in accounting.

  • Watch out Janice, JR77096 will call you out and claim you never went to SMU and will swear you DON’T have a Masters in Accounting–lol–seriously, I agree with your comment

  • Shannon, what in the world does being in a fraternity or being on the swim team have to do with anything? I do agree with you about wanting a taller building than 50 stories though. If Chevron is taking most of the building, another 10-20 stories of unleased space for future growth would seem to make sense. I also agree with you that our skyline hasn’t changed since the 80’s. Geez, even an garish Trump building would be welcome if it were 70+ stories at this point.

  • @say what–I was answering a comment, I agree it was a ridiculous non sequitur, but in fairness the answer mirrored the comment by JR77096, maybe he’s the one you should say what?, to–as related to this thread and on subject, I’m pleased you agree

  • @say what, Chevron is taking ALL of the building – they will own it. Oil companies don’t typically build 10-20 floors of empty space, but seem to prefer having to lease extra space in the short term.

    Despite the desires of those with empty pockets, the market, and building owners, have deemed 40-50 stories as the optimum for Houston’s downtown, with generally rectangular floorplates that provide the maximum flexibility for buildout.

  • Ross, you don’t need to be condescending to make your point, we all understand the economics of supply and demand and market driven factors that effect development, it’s not exactly Quantum Physics, all we are saying is we’d like to see a developer build a tall signature tower that would actually impact the skyline and yes, I don’t have 500 million dollars to make that a reality, however if I did in this market I’d hire Pickard Chilton or SOM to design a classic Art Deco inspired skyscraper in the vein of the Chrysler, I’d chose a position on the skyline offering the best views and best placement in relation to the other tall buildings downtown. Houston as a robust economy and few class AA towers, I think downtown could support a 1000 foot 2 million square foot tower for the same reason class AA Mainplace has been a success, you attract existing corporations downtown to lease with your newer, more technologically advanced building, not Rocket Science Ross, just basic business

  • Shannon,
    Please, tell me more about yourself. You are making a great impression on me.
    -Cornell Grad 95′, Chemical Engineering, Member of the Cornell Big Red Fighting Foosball team, no fraternity.

  • Also Ross, what makes you think we have empty pockets just because we have a wish list for Houston. Our only point was how nice it would be to have a new signature building on our skyline. None the less, we are thrilled to have more construction, jobs etc.

    This comment section is exactly for what we are doing, commenting.

  • Allen,

    What exactly would you like to know –tell me more about you–what’s Ithica like–ever venture to the metropolis of Rochester–please tell me more

  • Shannon,
    Yes, I went to college in a very small town. You got me.

  • “Groundbreaking will follow the final investment decision, and occupancy is anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the release from Chevron.” What all comprises a “final investment decision”? Maybe more consideration of future space requirements that perhaps increases building height?

  • Good addition and the boxiness complements the two curved buildings . My negative observations; why can’t Chevron light to top of the first tower 2. It looks lifeless at night next to tower 3 whose new lights look brilliant. Will the new tower have a spire or some sort of lighted effect on the top or facade? These illuminations give a dramatic look to the complex seen from miles away.