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Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Conference Center, Corpus Christi c l i e n t Port of Corpus Christi Authority a r c h i t e c t Richter Architects a popular place for receptions, banquets, galas, (opposite page) Blue and green fiberglass panels at the and other celebratory events. It was the missing link entry recall the maritime history of the rehabilitated that connected the port with people. There has been 1920s-era cotton warehouse. (this page, left) Shadows an economic benefit as well: Port officials estimate of the adjacent Harbor Bridge add visual drama to the David Richter, FAIA; Elizabeth that the Ortiz Center will have generated $1 million exterior. (above) Inside, filtered light from high clerestories Chu Richter; Samuel Morris; Sheldon Schroeder; in revenue by the end of this year, only 15 months accentuates the essential elegance of the original steel Stephen Cox; and Lonnie Gatlin c o n t r a c t o r Moorhouse Construction Company c o n s u l t a n t s Govind & Associates (structural); Callins, Haggard & Associates (MEP); Russell Veteto Engineering (civil) p h o t o g r a p h e r David Richter, FAIA after it opened in a long-dormant space. columns and trusses. project project team Richter Architects of Corpus Christi designed the Ortiz Center to connect the port and the city, the port and the Harbor Bridge, and the port and its past. The architects’ adaptive reuse of, and addition to, the 1920s-era cotton warehouse respects the maritime and industrial history of the building and The Port of Corpus Christi is the engine the cargo dock. Making those connections meant that drives the economy of Nueces and San Patricio ending the building’s isolation. Though it’s an counties, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars easy walk to the bayfront and downtown – where into area communities each year. It opened in city officials anticipate a boon from forays by 1926 and marked its seventy-fifth anniversary cruise-ship passengers – the building’s location this year. The fifth-largest port in the nation, its practically beneath the Harbor Bridge created a refineries, warehouses, cargo docks, and railroad design challenge. The architects turned it into tracks sprawl over thousands of acres at Corpus an advantage. Christi’s industrial back door. “The building is connected to the harbor and to Although only a short stroll from the bayfront the natural light of its setting,” said David Richter, cultural district and downtown, until just recently few FAIA, a principal of the firm. “There are times when residents or visitors had much contact with the port the shadow of the bridge itself casts very dramatic except for the windshield view from the Harbor Bridge shadows across the building. And even if you are of the refineries that hug the ship channel. not looking at the bridge, sometimes you sense its That changed last year when the Congressman presence looming as this grand gateway overhead.” Solomon P. Ortiz International Center opened at The architects established lines of sight and a former cotton warehouse and cargo dock at the lines of approach to reinforce the natural pedestrian port’s inner harbor. (The $6.8 million cruise-ship patterns that would link the building to the rest of terminal and conference center is named for the the city. Then they sited it along a new promenade area’s longtime U.S. representative.) and angled the new addition to reach toward the Inaugurated in September 2000, the cultural district. The angle also suggests the prow 60,000-square-foot Ortiz Center quickly became of a ship and movement toward the building’s main 1 1 / 1 2 2 0 0 1 t e x a s a r c h i t e c t 35

Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2001: Public Spaces

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