The 10-story office building announced earlier this week for a site across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center won’t just house the Greater Houston Partnership, for which the project is being named; it’ll also be home to a swell crowd of quasi-governmental city-boosting organizations, whose members will gladly walk you out onto the 2-story 2,000-sq.-ft. upper terrace at the corner of Rusk and Avenida de las Americas, slap you on the back, and point out all the new buildings and visitors and conventions swarming around Discovery Green.
If it isn’t too late in the afternoon (the deck faces west), a city scout needing a little convincing or glad-handling will have an eye-opening view of Houston to behold: A slice of Houston’s central, quasi-public park with its suggestively undeveloped surface parking lots and the rest of downtown beyond, bookended by the city’s 2 remaining non-acronymed sports facilities, Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center. Kinda stepping in front of the center portion of that view will be the new Marriott Marquis currently under construction along the combined Walker and McKinney streets on Discovery Green’s eastern flank, but the hotel’s tower portion will be shifted a bit to leave room for a park overlook. In a nod to the marketing world’s recent fashion of mildly gritty cité-vérité, the new office building’s deck won’t be air-conditioned, but the nearby towers should generate a fair amount of breeze, and its height should put it safely above Houston’s 8-story mosquito line.
Houston First, which owns the property and is serving as the developer, will also occupy the building, though the top 2 floors will be reserved for the Greater Houston Partnership, the Chronicle‘s David Kaplan reports. The Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Center for Houston’s Future will also have headquarters there. On the east side of the building (and hiding in both published renderings from the building’s designers, WHR Architects), will be a massive 1,900-car parking garage, which will also serve as the garage for Marriott Marquis hotel artfully elided from both drawings (above).
Train tracks for the new East End Line already pass through the parking-garage site, which backs up to the Hwy. 59 overpass. Kaplan notes that when the building is complete, trains curving from Rusk St. to Hamilton will drive through the parking garage. Above the train on Rusk St., a skybridge will connect to the George R. Brown, so visitors walking to and from the garage can pass by the office building and perhaps be peppered with a few more Houston boosts and boasts on their way.
Houston First chairman Ric Campo, who famously eschews ground-floor retail in his own Camden Property Trust developments, gets to tell Kaplan that the bottom floors of both the building and the attached garage will contain some retail space — likely for restaurants, he says. And the foundation for the $76 million project, he says, has been designed to accommodate a future hotel perched somewhere on top.
- New office building designed to show off the city [Houston Chronicle]
Renderings: WHR Architects