When completed in 1981, the 75-story tower broke records: it was not only the tallest building in Houston and the sixth-tallest in the United States; it was the tallest granite-clad structure in the world and the tallest composite concrete-and-steel building ever erected.
The tower complex includes a one-acre public plaza, a 2,000-car garage with 40,000 square feet of space for retail and athletic facilities, and a pedestrian concourse that interconnects these elements and links to Houston’s subterranean tunnel system. Clad in polished pale gray granite and dual-pane glass, the 1,000-foot-high structure departs from convention with one corner sheared off at a 45-degree angle, producing a slender five-sided structure whose main facade is an 85-foot column-free span with panoramic views of Houston’s west side.
1.4 acres, a full city block in downtown Houston
Banking Hall, 5-story main lobby, sky lobby, 73 floors offices (total 1.3 million s/f), 1-acre landscaped plaza, monumental public art (tapestry, sculpture), 28,000 s/f concourse level retail, underground parking
Gerald D. Hines Interests, Texas Commerce Bank, United Energy Resources
Architecture, exterior envelope, interior design
First Annual Award for Distinguished Architecture
Reliance Development Company, 1981
Grand Conceptor Award for Engineering Excellence
American Consulting Engineers Council, 1981
Integral to the complex is the paved and landscaped plaza that occupies two-thirds of the full-block site, with the tower positioned off-center at the northeast corner. With its monumental sculpture by Joan Miro, the plaza forms a natural link to the surrounding buildings while providing an exciting urban focus for life in downtown Houston.
Associate Architect: Architectural Production: 3D / International Architects, Houston, TX (owner's consultant); Structural: CBM Engineers Inc., Houston (owner's consultant); Mechanical / Electrical / Plumbing: I. A. Naman Associates, Inc., Houston, TX (owner's consultant); Images: Nathaniel Lieberman, Richard Payne