Peeking into the New Houston Ballet Center for Dance Downtown

When the building is finished in 2011, what will wayward pedestrians poking past the new Houston Ballet Center for Dance from the intersection of Congress and Smith streets Downtown be able to glimpse of the action inside?

. . . the architects . . . envisioned the granite like a proscenium stage, framing views from the street through windows on several floors of the north and west facades.

Those windows, [Gensler managing principal James] Furr added, are like a “billboard for dance,” enabling passersby to see classes and rehearsals.

Furr spoke to the Chronicle‘s Molly Glentzer, and Gensler provided more-up-to-date images of the 115,000-sq.-ft. facility, which will be clad in black granite on one portion and “a light plaster” on the other:


Judging from these newer renderings, street-bound ballet fans might need some pretty tall stepladders to catch a decent glimpse of floor exercises. Leaps should be easier to see, though.

The building’s designer, Gensler’s Marshall Strabala, served as lead designer of the Burj Dubai (when he was with SOM) and the Shanghai Tower.

Here’s a view of the building’s shimmery skybridge, jaywalking across the intersection of Smith and Preston and sneaking into the back of the Wortham Center without a ticket:

The Houston Ballet itself still hasn’t made any public announcements about its new $53 million project, which began construction late last month.

So why hasn’t the Houston Ballet been tooting its horn?

[Houston Ballet managing director Cecil C.] Conner said they began securing pledges two years ago when they bought the property, “but the last six months have been difficult.” (The ballet foundation bought a full block, half of which they sold along with the current West Gray headquarters to Novare Group, a commercial developer from Atlanta. The developer’s holdings are now on the market again.)

With the economy still slumping, the board didn’t want to send the wrong message, Conner said. “We’ve raised about 70 percent of the funds, so we’re still very much in the fund raising process. I’d like to have been at 95 percent when the public campaign started.”

Renderings: Gensler

4 Comment

  • Although we’ll only see the leaps, the building is quite cool.

    Another modern building to our collection.

    And to the density buffs, this is another empty block that is gone.

  • Go, Houston Ballet!!

  • Hooray for the Houston Ballet. They deserve this nice new home, and it will be a fine addition to the northern part of downtown.

    And I very much like the skies in the renderings. There’s no mistaking that it’s Houston.

  • Hey! Do someone know, if is this new building for the school or for the company? If it is for the school, which part the main or the houston ballet II??