Bigger? Taller? Hines To Redesign Proposed 609 Main St. Office Tower

Hines says that it isn’t quite ready to say that the office tower planned for 609 Main will be taller than the previously described 41 stories and 815,000 sq. ft. Still, a rep from Hines says that increasing demand for office space Downtown is driving a redesign from Pickard Chilton, and it’s likely that the tower will end up comprising more square footage — if not more stories. The proposed block, bound by Main, Texas, Fannin, and Capitol, is shared now with the vacant Texas Tower — though it’s still unclear whether that building would be torn down to make room. At any rate, it seems that we’ll soon know: The second round of designs should be completed by the end of the year, says the rep, and construction could begin as early as January.

Rendering: Hines

49 Comment

  • The rendering shows the old texas/sterling tower as a goner. The lobby street face looks like a home run for Main St architecture.

  • I’ve liked this design since I first saw it. At the street level(s) it has an Exotica look to it. As if a Trader Vic’s Tiki Palace were an inspiration for the design…or would be tenent. (Que up the Martin Denny music up…please!) Now, just put a Volcano top with smoke and red lights and we’d have a theme. Something Tillman would be proud of.

  • Shannon will happy!

  • Well, well, well…here comes the new tallest building in Texas. For Hines to make a statement like that means double or nothing…easily 82 or 85 floors.

  • This is going to be awesome. New skyscrapers, woop woop!

  • It looks like Batman.

  • @Honest Truth – I wish you were right, but my (limited) understanding is that the FAA restricts the height of Houston’s downtown skyscrapers to 1,000ft which works out to something in the 70-75 story range. If anyone has any knowledge about the FAA’s height restrictions for Houston (beyond what I could google in 5 minutes) I’d love to hear about it.

  • Houston is booming! Nice to see the skyline come alive.

  • The FAA has guidelines, but developers can opt out of those I believe? And I actually thought the height limits were 1,200′ not 1,000′?

    Now for the building being taller – I wouldn’t imagine Hines adding more than 10-15 floors. With a floor to floor ranging from 14-15′ we’re looking at a height of 720-860′ and a 50-55 floor building. Which would put it taller than any thing built in town since Texaco Heritage Plaza.

  • @Walt The FAA does have the right to review the heights of any tall office towers downtown in regards to interference with flight operations at Hobby. There was a proposal for a Bank of the Southwest tower to be built on the empty parking lot along Lousiana street across from Shell in 1983. Helmut Jahn designed tower to reach 1404′ and 82 floors. There’s a Houston Post article online that says the FAA found it to be a “hazard”. The article states that the FAA did not have the power to stop the building, only to say it would pose an adverse threat to current hobby aircraft operations. Of course, then the oil bust came along, and those plans died.

  • @ John F. Let’s go all out: Start with the volcano top,the smoke & the red lights (makes it tacky yet lurid ) then throw in a Texas size , MIRRORED / REFLECTIVE lit like a movie star, disco ball that,of course spins and the lights pulsate to a posh sound track ! And we’d be in business. Tillman would jizz and Hines would be the talk of town (not necessarily the wanted kind of talk ,but hot diggity, it would be talked about.

  • Build Gerald ,build. Thankfully Hines has well designed buildings. Unlike some of the crap recently/currently being built.

  • @Eric and Shady – thanks. My little bit of googling also found that while the FAA did not have the explicit right, or ability, to veto a project, their finding that a project would constitute an aviation hazard makes the project uninsurable; thereby effectively vetoing it.

  • This is great news to thyn ears–let’s hope it gets a redesign with a tapered spire design–I’m not crazy about the building as proposed, however if they stretch it above 60
    stories ill happily accept this building –hmmm, interesting how this “redesign” comes on the heels of the announced Chevron Tower or maybe someone at Hines reads Swamplot –lol

  • @walt–the proposed Southwest Bank Tower from the 80’s was 1200 feet and had been approved –it’s true Chase Tower was lowered 5 stories in the early 80’s, however the FAA can allow for over 1200 feet, this building will not be 1000 feet–Hines wouldn’t build a building of that size for this location, they have another lot deemed for a super tall when the market allows

  • The FAA thing doesn’t make sense, there are 80 and 100 story towers in NY and Chicago. What’s up with that? Anyway, that was the 1980’s and it sounds like it was politics. The FAA director at the time was probably a Houston hater from one of those cities…jealous of Houston’s boom and didn’t want us building as high. It just makes no sense, especially with today’s technology. I believe ShadyHeightster is right; the FAA can’t stop an 80 or 100 story tower from going up in Houston, but will review and maybe issue a non-binding statement regarding the building. The Houston haters may as well get used to it, because Houston will be the third largest city in America at the next census.

  • Lol, take it easy honest–it’s about positioning of runways at Hobby–a developer could get a waver to build over 1050 feet and it could be insured–things have changed since 1980 and as I’ve said the Bank of the Sourhwest was approved and it was 82 stories 1200 feet, the oil bust and the drying up of capital doomed it to the dust bin of great buildings never built

  • I would love to see Houston get a Supertall! This is one exciting time to live in Houston!

  • It’d be nice to have a local journalist to profile the current buzz for CBD commercial real estate. Things that’d be interesting to know: 1. Potential for a supertall skyline changer in the coming years 2. methods developers like Hines use to gauge lease demand to fill new highrises. Perhaps an independent journalist could interview a Hines rep for the Houston Press? The trend at seems to point towards a model for journalistic devolution run by a third rate staff consumed with the banal and trivial.

  • I’m disappointed with most arch. of current boom. This looks so late 70s/early 80s. Boring, really … now. Everything else looks too Page Southerland Page public/institutional. Would think Hines would do something comparable to importance of Pennzoil Place at that time; something daring, stunning, and tasteful. The residential tower at Alabama/Weslayan comes close. But I realize everything has a budget!!

  • Alan
    I agree. Our bldgs are all looking so boring. I’m just back from a trip to Atlanta and was REALLY impressed with the uniqueness of many of their downtown bldgs.

  • I couldn’t agree with Alan more. 30 years with no architecturally significant buildings is way too long. Transco/Williams Tower sold for a record price because it was a trophy building. I would be embarrassed as an architect with some of this stuff they’ve “designed”.

  • Not a fan of much of Atlanta’s buildings… but the consensus is out that “Post Modern” aka: Transco, Republic Bank, Pennzoil etc are better than Enron II, Hess and the rest of the recent towers. To sum it up – People like pointy tops and architectural embellishment.

    I would rather see several 40+ floor buildings eat up a bunch of these empty lots around downtown than 1 single 70 floor building. Besides, if Pickard/Chilton’s the architect I doubt the design will actually be very nice. IM Pei, Phillip Johnson and SOM did the last thee 900’+ tall buildings in town, and Pickard/Chilton is not in that kind of league.

  • I should say “Pickard/Chilton IS the architect and the current design is not very good!” In fact the building looks rather bad from all the angles except the one above (which conveniently erased an existing building to show off better).

  • I’m fine with relatively minimalist highrises with a few choice pieces. Wouldn’t an over-embellished skyline look like some of those gaudy interiors we love to slam here? Houston has always been the ignored little sister of big US cities anyway, going her own way, not trying to impress. Like the old song says, let the little girl dance.

  • Uh Eric, Pickard/Chilton designed the 800 foot Devon Tower in OKC, they are the hottest firm in skyscraper design currently, do you really think Hines!! would go second rate??–you’ve obviously not been paying attention for 30 years–oh and almost all of Atlanta’s new buildings are dull, except the Pickard/Chilton Symphony Tower –and the skyline is odd as it creeps down Peachtree, not really a fan, I prefer Chicago and NYC as a skyline with which to aspire

  • Last comment… The building doesn’t look “bad” just a bit too bulky. It’s features could have been more elegantly addressed – perhaps Pickard/Chilton will do that in the “englarged” version?

  • @ Shannon: I like the Devon building in OKC, but not a big Pickard/Chilton fan. Hines turns out quality, but hasn’t done anything truly remarkable since Transco and the Republic Bank Buildings (in my opinion). And yes, Chicago’s skyline is the best in the land.

  • Agreed this isn’t Pickard/Chilton’s best work, it’s actually one of their most uninspired, it’s not nearly as cool as Mainplace–let’s hope in the redesign they don’t just stretch this bland tower, let’s hope it’s a complete and total redesign

  • @eric –I agree about Hines lately, however Mainplace is a cool skyscraper, tho it’s hardly Transco or Republic Bank–I’ve been in the Devon Tower, it’s well executed, for all it’s great height it still casts an elegant silhouette–Gerald Hines is getting up in age, I hope before he goes he gives Houston one last great skyscraper

  • I like the concept of the design. The angles and simplicity are bold, however, I hope the final design has attention paid to details that give it a wow factor.

  • Anyone who claims knowledge of “facts” (That the FAA restricted it in any way, or that the original height was supposed to be 80 floors), about the Chase Tower is full of it.

    The Tower was originally designed at 60 floors (Hence the observation deck). 15 floors were added later in the design due to the demand of office space. This comes directly from an e-mail sent to me by I.M. Pei & Partners a few years ago when this topic kept coming up on HAIF.

    So maybe once and for all, all of these mindless rumours can be put to rest any time someone mentions a building Downtown that is over 1,000ft.

  • @Montrose1100 – I’ll take your word on having an email from I.M.Pei that goes against what everyone thinks. But, in defense of all those who think otherwise, here is a paragraph from the wikipedia entry regarding the building:

    The tower was built in 1981 as Texas Commerce Tower. It was designed by noted architects I. M. Pei & Partners. In some early plans, the building reached up to 80 stories; however, the FAA expressed concerns that additional height was a risk for aircraft going into and out of nearby William P. Hobby Airport. Nonetheless, when it was completed, it was the eighth tallest building in the world.[citation needed] The building was developed as part of a partnership between Texas Commerce Bank and Khalid bin Mahfouz.[6]

  • Thank you Walt, that’s also in a book on I.M. Pei–so I don’t know who he spoke in Pei’s office–also, Cobb designed all the best buildings for the Pei/Cobb firm, Pei was a great civil engineer and a brilliant mind, but not much of a a designer as witnessed by the Chase Tower and that abomination at the Louvre

  • In addition, I’ve seen a picture of the original model of the Texas Commerce Tower (Chase) at the original 80 stories in that book on I.M. Pei–hmmm, maybe the cleaning lady in Pei’s office emailed him as a lark–

  • It’s eminently possible that the 80-storey claim in the Wiki article was inspired by the repetition of rumors on blogs such as this; the article then gets cited as evidence on blogs and the circle of (mis)information is complete.

    I’m curious to see how the Hines tower turns out. If they could re-use the Sterling Building / Texas Tower that would be ideal. That building may not look like much now, but before the horrendously-ugly atrium was added in the ’80s and the art-deco roof details were removed in the late ’40s, it was quite beautiful (in my opinion). It doesn’t take up much of the block- perhaps it could be rehabbed to it’s original appearance (as in what they’re doing with 806 Main right around the corner) and the new tower built adjacent to it.

  • @ Shannon; If you think Wikipedia is by any means a credible source, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

  • I’ve had both a class and conversation with Joe Colaco (the structural engineer on Texas Commerce Building) and he said otherwise if I’m remembering correctly.

    Regardless, VERY doubtful Hines will build 609 as a 1000′ or taller building. I wouldn’t be that surprised if they went to 60 floors and it approached 900′

  • @Montrose–slow your roll, guy–and I’m not the one who quoted Wiki–I quoted a book on I.M. Pei and an interview with Charlie Rose, where Pei spoke about the Texas Commerce Tower and the original 80 stories–your information is incorrect, I have no idea who emailed you, but unless it’s Pei himself, I’d take it with a grain of salt–

  • Apologies, but you can stick to your source of information, and I’ll stick to mine. I have read that book as well and Cannot explain the conflicting information, but I guess tone can’t be read over the Internet.

  • I agree about tone via Internet–I think we all just want a beautiful, stylish, very tall addition to the skyline that actually makes an impact –please let it be one superior to the Chase Tower–it puts the B in bland–the only thing impressive about that building is it’s grand height and it’s unparalleled position on the skyline

  • People that say Houston’s buildings are boring should realize that Houston is architectually powerful and grand, yet decidedly conservative. Houston has not and will not ever build structures with obtuse curves and twists, or bells and whistles, or glitzy gawdy signs/glaring lights, etc…its not our style (thank God). That’s for Vegas, Miami, and the like. Houston builds simple and elegant, bold and grand power towers, that impress all by themselves, that’s Houston’s style idiom. And at the end of the day, that’s really what style is all about.

  • I don’t think anyone on here thinks the Houston skyline is boring, it’s actually quite beautiful, but come on, the Chase Tower is banal and very dull–we all love Transco and the Mayan Heritage Plaza and the Bank of America Tower and Pennzoil and Tenneco––and we all know Houston is conservative –geez, honestly no lecture on Houston, I grew up there, I know and understand Houston

  • Once upon a time, the downtown skyline was brightly lit with a number of of top of building signs – Gulf, Bank of the Southwest, Conoco, etc…it was, um, unique. I do miss the old Anheuser Busch animated neon eagle that used to fly over the brewery, though – that and the giant cockroach on the Southwest Freeway.

  • Lol, I miss the Anheiser Busch Eagle as well–I understood the closing of Busch Gardens so the brewery could be enlarged, but I never understood why they removed the flying Eagle, it was superb advertising

  • The Flying Eagle sign was removed by Busch because people driving on I-10 East wanted to watch the whole sequence that caused too many accidents on I-10 and an inherent danger to drivers-by.

  • Looking at Shanghai’s skyline of tall but not Dubai-tall buildings, add a few mor buildings I DT Houston which is being done now, an outstanding skyline could come from one additional 1100′ building, AND all lit up at night from lights along the rooflines ad down the four corners,to Klieg lights lighting up the buildings from the ground up and leaving various buildings lit from the inside changing which buildings were to be lit on certain days during each month plus a circle from all around the DT area with Xenon-based Kliegs all pointing toward downtown maybe with a certain flashing sequence each Klieg on for 15-30 minutes at a time in all colors from say 3-5 miles out. But, it would have to be done with IM Pei/John Hines beauty and Houston dryly of subtlety and not Miami/Vegas garishness.

    With careful planning, it would make the skyline of the world. And with Houston being the true cosmopolitan, International city tat it is, with its world view of it, now’s the time to do it.

    Not all of the would or necessarily should be done, but it would put Houston in even bigger letters on the International Map it’s already on.

    All this could also be done only at special times of the year, not every night so to prevent the same ol’, same ol’ night after night. Ennui would set in quickly for those living in Houston now–but what it would look like passing over Hobby for the soon-to-be International travelers.

  • Look new info I got from a reliable source says that a new rendering is out on the web already or is about to be and it shows a slightly more Dubai style tower and that it will stand at 82 stories not counting the crown the description of the rendering is a curved twisted facade all glass and light up like something from Shanghai it will have a futuristic crown on top with changing colors.

  • adamB, wake up’re dreamin’. HBJ reports yesterday it’s a minor expansion from the original proposal. Hines rep J. Mooz says it’s a 47-story structure that breaks ground Q1 2014.