An entry posted over the weekend to the website of Ziegler Cooper Architects indicates that the local firm has won Shorenstein Properties’ invited competition to remake the soon-to-be-former ExxonMobil Building (at right), a prominent, bristly, and standoffish figure on the southern edge of Houston’s Downtown since 1962. The redo, which will be far more extensive than a simple reskinning, removes the most distinctive feature of the building, originally designed by L.A. architects Welton Becket for Humble Oil: the 7-foot-deep shades, cantilevered from marble-clad columns, that help shield sunlight from all but the top of the tower’s 44 stories.
The fate of those sunshades may explain why Shorenstein selected Ziegler Cooper’s design for the building on the block surrounded by Bell, Milam, Travis, and Leeland it bought from ExxonMobil earlier this year : The airspace formerly occupied (and cooled) by the shades won’t just be surrounded by a new glass skin; the newly enclosed area will be swallowed and captured for additional floor space, according to the architects’ drawings and description. That’ll fatten up the floor plates to a now-popular 42-ft. depth and increase the structure’s gross square footage by more than 100,000 sq. ft., to 1.4 million sq. ft.
In place of those unshaded top 2 floors at the top, now home to the Petroleum Club, the new building, referred to now by its address of 800 Bell St., will show off its new fancy light-up forehead. At the base, a new plaza facing Bell St. (above) will at long last tie the building into the downtown tunnel system.
ExxonMobil is currently leasing the building back from Shorenstein; renovations are scheduled to begin in 2015, after the company moves its last downtown employees to its new suburban North Houston campus headquarters.
- 800 Bell [Ziegler Cooper Architects]
- ExxonMobil coverage [Swamplot]
- Previously on Swamplot: No, the Renovated Bell St. ExxonMobil Building Is Not Gonna Look Like This, ExxonMobil’s Humble Gift to the City?
Renderings: Ziegler Cooper Architects. Photo: Flickr user lc_db