The regional tourism building planned for the northern of the 2 blocks between Minute Maid Park and the GRB will be called the Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, Mayor Parker announced today. It’ll be named after beer distributor and $8-million-donor John Nau; fundraisers hope waving the rendering pictured above will help drum up an additional $32 million to get the thing built. ($15 million more is coming from Houston First, the “government corporation” that runs the city’s convention center, the Hilton Americas Hotel, and several city performance venues.)
The design leaves room for 2 houses dating from 1904 and 1905 and moved to the site last year, the only surviving structures from the neighborhood on nearby blocks named Quality Hill that by the 1930s had vanished — along with its storied reputation for integrity and elevation. The rendering also shows (at far right) the saved-from-scrap 1919 Southern Pacific 982 steam engine parked on the curb across from the East End Light Rail Line along Capitol St. Between the houses and the locomotive will sit the Nau Center’s signature dome entrance, held aloft, the rendering from Bailey Architects shows, by a ring of dainty columns resting at sidewalk level and a circular wall of glass.
Included in the 60,000-sq.-ft. Downtown venue, which Houston First expects to become a tourist attraction in its own right, will be museum-quality advertisements for other visitor attractions in southeast Texas, including the nearby San Jacinto Monument, the Strand in Galveston, the Port of Houston, Ima Hogg’s Bayou Bend, and the Johnson Space Center. In promotional materials, the organization claims the multimedia exhibits planned for the inside will “help turn a one-day visit into a multi-day adventure.”
On Wednesday, city council approved the purchase of 2 lots on the site — which is bounded by Texas, Capitol, Hamilton, and Avenida de las Americas — for $1.8 million.
- Businessman to donate $8 million to new cultural center [Houston Chronicle]
- Land sale would clear way for Texas history center downtown [Houston Chronicle]
- Previously on Swamplot: City Playing Musical Blocks with Downtown Houses
Images: Houston First