08/24/07 7:43pm

View of MainPlace, Hines’s Proposed 46-Story LEED Silver Office Building on Main Street in Downtown HoustonIt rises dramatically from the center of Downtown to face the morning sun. And the renderings sure make it look like a sleek, giant pipe wrench, the business end looking out over Houston’s industrial east side. Yep, there’s nothing the head office won’t be able to fix!

It’s MainPlace, a 46-story, one-million-square-foot green spec office tower, planned for most of the block surrounded by Fannin, Rusk, and Walker, at 811 Main.

The developer is the Hines CalPERS Green Fund, established by Hines and the California retirement fund to develop “sustainable” office buildings around the country. The core and shell, they promise, will be given a LEED-Silver rating by the USGBC. Don’t worry too much about all that, though: tenants will presumably be free to decorate their interiors with the usual endangered rainforest hardwoods and petroleum-based finishes.

That’s a five-story atrium up there on the 39th floor, facing a “sky garden.” Enjoy those trees in the rendering while you can; eventually, the engineers will start to think long and hard about hurricanes. More details and lots more zoomy pics, including closeups of that pipe-wrench jaw sky garden, after the jump.


06/22/07 7:55am

Biodiesel Production Plant in Carl’s Corner, TexasSure, everybody’s excited about biodiesel because it’s new and rare. But just wait until smelly biodiesel production plants start littering the landscape like fast-food franchises.

If you’ve got $1.95 million, you can set one up too. A company out of Florida is selling “prepackaged,” turnkey biodiesel plants from a German factory. Let them come, and they will build it:

As part of its business-in-a-box plan, Xenerga promises long-term, exclusive deals to purchase waste cooking oil from a network of suppliers whose clients include McDonald’s Corp. and Chili’s Grill & Bar. Xenerga’s supply side also focuses on rendered animal fats like beef tallow, chicken grease and pig fat, all of which are plentiful in Texas.

Interest from this region has been strong, the company told the Houston Business Journal: a plant in west Houston is planned already.

Xenerga also promises to deliver customers willing to buy the estimated 5 million gallons of biodiesel per year that the plants produce.

Each Xenerga plant only takes up half an acre, requires two employees at a time, and can be sited almost anywhere from light industrial parks to rural farmland.

Photo: Biodiesel production plant in Carl’s Corner, Texas, by flickr user Nicola Matsukis

06/07/07 9:36am

Shipping Container

Here’s a building method that seems well-suited for Houston: It’s fast, it’s temporary, and it involves both shipping containers and fine art. Remember the demolition permit for the site on 11th Street in the Heights we mentioned a few days back? By Friday, it’ll have a completed building on it, according to ‘stina, who wrote in her LiveJournal Wednesday:

Today, the shipping containers will be delivered and installed to the new site of the 1400 square foot gallery, and you can see for yourself what this form of construction looks like. They started this morning with merely a few spread footings and grade beams and they’ll finish this evening with all the containers set and a good portion (if not all) of the roof in place.

It’s the new Apama Mackey Gallery, pieced together out of three shipping containers by Numen Development. The gallery will occupy the site for a few years, until the landowner is ready for a more permanent development in that location. Then Mackey will be able to move the gallery to a new lot she hopes to find in the meantime.

Some of the project’s green features, according to ‘stina’s report:

Photo: Flickr user Ross Dunn