01/13/11 2:26pm

Sometime before
the Christmas holiday last year, “high winds” caused a part of one of the wind turbines mounted to the top of downtown Houston’s Hess Tower to “detach” from its mounting point. “Two pieces of the debris fell to the street. Nobody was injured,” Hess Corporation spokesperson Mari Pat Sexton tells Swamplot today. Sexton had no comment on circulating rumors that one or more of the the pieces struck a car on the street.

The incident helps explain why the whirling turbines, installed as a featured element at the top of the new 29-story tower last summer, have been silent since mid-December. In the photo above, taken by a HAIF commenter shortly before Christmas, the turbines appear to be missing. “After the event occurred, (the turbines) were locked down,” Sexton says, adding she is unaware of the turbines’ current status or whether there are plans to replace them. “The building is still under construction.”

The Gold LEED certified skyscraper, named Discovery Tower until Hess signed on to lease the whole thing 2 years ago, sits at the northern edge of Discovery Green, a short walk from Minute Maid Park. It was developed by Trammell Crow, designed by Gensler, is the thirtieth-tallest building in Houston, and was the first in town to feature — and draw some power from — wind turbines. Here’s how they looked (and sounded) last year, before the incident:


07/12/10 8:17am

Got a question about something going on in your neighborhood you’d like Swamplot to answer? Sorry, we can’t help you. But if you ask real nice and include a photo or 2 with your request, maybe the Swamplot Street Sleuths can! Who are they? Other readers, just like you, ready to demonstrate their mad skillz in hunting down stuff like this:

Answers to two questions left over from last week:

  • Discovery Green: The sleek, silver and blue Skyline Bar & Grill on the 24th floor of the Hilton Americas hotel is gone. In its place is the Skyline Ballroom, shown above in flouncier attire, courtesy of a reader who pointed us to the hotel’s meeting-room brochure. The 3,275-sq.-ft. space is now available for banquets and receptions. Meanwhile across the green, reception of the 10 wind turbines recently installed at the top of the brand-new 30-story Hess Tower has been just a little bumpy. “The turbines are functional,” reports engineer and new Metro board member Christof Spieler. “Whether they’re economical is another question…. the turbulence at the top of a building means it’s not nearly as good a place for a wind turbine as an open plain.” But it all adds up, commenter Mt figures: “Power Bill savings: Negligible, PR Value for [an] oil and gas company: PRICELESS!”

We’ll post more reader questions tomorrow. Send us what you’ve got before then!

Photo of Skyline Ballroom: Hilton Americas—Houston

07/06/10 6:40pm

Got an answer to these reader questions? Or just want to be a sleuth for Swamplot? Here’s your chance! Add your report in a comment, or send a note to our tipline.

  • Discovery Green: Two questions this week, coming from within a block of each other: First, a reader wants to know what happened to the “awesome” silver-and-blue Skyline Bar & Grill that used to be on the 24th floor of the Hilton Americas hotel Downtown. Separately, and across the park, another reader submits what may turn out to be an existential question about the top of the new Hess Tower:

    We just returned from the Dock Dog competition at Discovery Green and noticed that the 30+ story building adjacent to the Northwest corner of the park has what appears to be 5 or 6 wind turbine-like devices rotating at the top of the building. My daughter and I were wondering if they are actually functional electric-producing turbines or are they just ornamental? Thanks for any info you and your loyal readers can send our way.

Photo of Hess Tower from Discovery Green: Stanford Moore

11/16/09 1:03pm

A reader sends in photos of the new Hess Tower, formerly known as Discovery Tower, under construction adjacent to Discovery Green Downtown.

You can see the tower isn’t quite finished yet but it sure looks like that plaza in front of it already is! Though really, all those office workers look a little young, don’t you think?

More pics:


01/19/09 1:04pm

Hot off the Swamplot tipline: Discovery Tower, going up across McKinney St. from Discovery Green Downtown, has its first tenant — and it’ll be taking the whole building.

Beginning in late 2011 — about the time Hess’s current lease at One Allen Center expires — the 30-story tower with the wind turbines on top will be renamed Hess Tower.

After the jump, details from an email announcing the move — sent out to Hess Corporation employees late this morning:


09/03/08 11:55am

Aerial View of Discovery Green and Discovery Tower, Downtown Houston

Never mind the virtual obstacles: The website for Discovery Tower has a new promotional video that pays silent homage to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Also: more fancy renderings of the office building, now under construction.

More interesting to Discovery Green fans, though, will be a few new aerial renderings that depict the Downtown park in urban glory, surrounded by a crowd of real, planned, imagined, and soon-to-be-axed new projects. But . . . uh, which is which?

That orangish tower perched on Discovery Green’s southwest corner: the stalled 22-story Embassy Suites hotel. That sorta-identical but mirrored Hilton Americas on the north side of the park? The Convention Center Hotel Part Two!

So . . . what’s going on behind Discovery Tower?


06/23/08 8:39am

Discovery Tower, Downtown Houston

New drawings and details appear of Discovery Tower, the 30-story office building now under construction at the northwest corner of Discovery Green Downtown.

The wind turbines at the top of the building are still there. The brochure also mentions solar panels on the south face of the building, a green roof on top of the entrance pavilion, 2 stories of retail, as well as some old Houston favorites: 2 floors of underground parking (151 cars), and a 10-story, 1,350-space parking garage one block north, connected by . . . . an air-conditioned (phew!) skybridge!

After the jump, more green-hot Downtown tower architectural rendering porn!


02/29/08 3:50pm

Top of Proposed Discovery Tower, Downtown Houston

From our email comes a message from a reader who has heard from someone involved in the project that the white poles shown at the top of the new Discovery Tower drawing are . . . indeed, wind turbines.

So . . . if they do end up being put in, how much energy will they bring to the building? And . . . how many tenants?

02/28/08 5:13pm

Rendering of Discovery Tower by Gensler, Downtown HoustonThanks to an alert poster on HAIF, we now have a more up-to-date and better view of Discovery Tower, Trammel Crow’s 30-story office building — designed by Gensler and planned for a perch on the north side of Discovery Green Downtown.

Other HAIF participants have been speculating whether the shorter white poles at the top of the image are supposed to be . . . wind turbines!

Well, are they? Scrutinize a larger version of the rendering and judge for yourself . . . below the fold.


02/07/08 4:54pm

Drawing of Discovery Tower, Downtown HoustonHere’s a small discovery from today’s permit report: Work on the site and foundation of Discovery Tower — a 30-story office tower developed by Trammell Crow and designed by Gensler — has been approved by the city. The tower is planned for a block next to Discovery Green downtown, at 1501 McKinney St.

The tower will have retail space at street level and will reportedly tie into the tunnel system . . . by skybridge. A new parking garage will go up one block north.

The tiny image above shows the view from Discovery Green. Discovery Tower is at the far right. (The hazy image in the background to the left is the Finger Companies’ One Park Place, which is now under construction.)

Got any better images of Discovery Tower you’d like to share? Send them in!

Photo: CBRE, via HAIF user lockmat