A view from up in the U.S. Home building at 1177 West Loop South shows the white house originally home to architecture firm Caudill Rowlett Scott — and for the last couple decades home to Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists — now getting crunched along Buffalo Bayou. The properties now occupied by 1177 and its nearly-demolished neighbor at 1111 West Loop South were bought together as a single tract by CRS in the late ’60s.
A 1997 feature on the iconic (and difficult to photograph) building in Cite magazine by architect Jay Baker explains that prior purchasing the land, the firm had been working out of the Dow Center at the corner of Richmond and Edloe — but having become the largest architectural practice in Houston, its execs wanted to get into a more eye-catching workspace. The 8-acre, largely-in-the-floodplain property they bought, however — which included a 40-ft. drop-off — proved tough to design on . . . and its tenants tough to design for. In June 1967, CRS founder Bill Caudill wrote to his mother: “Boy what a week I am having . . . In my twenty years of practice I have never had such a terrible client. Imagine an architect doing a building for 15 other architects.”
The completed building went as much into the site as on it: Two office levels were fitted facing bayou-side greenery, low enough (and ultimately beneath the 100-year-flood level) to allow a 50-ft.-long bridge from the 610 feeder road to access the roof-deck parking lot that was placed on top.
Here’s a closer-up view of the ruins:
In 1979, CRSS (which tacked on another “s” after acquiring South Carolina architecture and engineering firm J.E. Sirrine) sold the portion of the site that became the adjacent 18-story U.S. Home building — which a few of the architecture firm’s employees later worked in and referred to as “the tower,” in contrast to the “white house” next door. Then in the ’90s, CRSS sold its entire architectural practice to rival HOK — which bailed on the building after a brief stay, turning it over to Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists.
Among the medical tenant’s contributions to the space: closing in its previously open floor plan to accommodate surgical suites, offices, and reception (pictured above) on the ground floor — as well as adding a second elevator to bring the place up to code. After Harvey flooded the concrete structure last year, the veterinary practice was moved to a spot off the Katy Fwy. in the Shoppes at Memorial Villages shopping center, leaving the West Loop building vacant and ready for teardown.