Houston, Texas, USA
1.2 million square feet / 112,000 square meters
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects was selected to design this 40-story headquarters in downtown Houston after an invited architectural competition.
Located on a full city block, the tower and its site are skewed 55 degrees off of the downtown city grid, but aligned with the old city framework of this area. The exterior wall design has an elegant and environmentally responsive texture. As the highly reflective skin of the new tower wraps to the south side, perforated sunshades project from the spandrel area, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the interior of the building. The tower top is sculpted inward under a sweeping projected roof.
The tower massing intersects with a seven-story podium. The tower’s sunshaded texture and its richly complex podium distinguish the building from the more taut, abstract buildings found in Houston. The podium includes four state-of-the-art trading floors, each 5,100-square-meters (55,000 square feet) in area and accommodating 500 trading desks per floor.
The ground floor includes retail space, a 240-seat auditorium and a two-story lobby with escalators leading to the second floor main elevator lobby. The lobby glazing consists of large glass panels supported by four horizontal trusses hung from tension rods. Suspended delicate louvers provide sunshading and light for the large lobby space. Distinguishing itself from a tradition of more opaque building bases, the tower is visually open to pedestrians.
The second floor includes elevator access to the tower, a large food court and a circular bridge that connects it to an adjacent building and a new parking garage. Designed structurally like an airplane wing, all the support for this bridge occurs within the deck resulting in a very transparent envelope. In a multi-story space at the juncture of the ring bridge and the tower is a 5.5-meter tall cylindrical map of the world, carved into 24 glass panels hung in tension.