Page 52

FAIA, of Studio Red Architects to investigate. (At about the same time, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department was in the midst of rehabilitating its headquarters, the former Farnsworth & Chambers building.) In the late 1990s, Icken, who was at the time the executive vice president of the Texas Medical Center (TMC), had worked with Neuhaus to rehabilitate the gigantic former Nabisco plant on Holcombe Boulevard for TMC-related lease office space (see TA, Nov./Dec. 2004). Neuhaus’ pro bono investigation of the potential site determined that the 1920s Butler Brothers-Union Terminal Warehouse could feasibly be converted into the mega-permitting facility the city desired. Comprising approximately 190,000 sf, it was three times the size of the old building. According to Neuhaus’ research, adaptive reuse of the warehouse would only cost 75 percent as much as new construction. Needless to say, his report was enthusiastically received by Icken’s department, and the other options were discarded.

The design interventions in the building were selected as much for their formal qualities as for their sustainability. The design interventions in the building were selected as much for their formal qualities as for their sustainability. Energy performance has been enhanced by features such as raised floors that contain wiring and a plenum for air conditioning, the use of day-lighting supplemented with low-wattage artificial lighting, recycled and locally produced materials, new thermally broken windows, a Green Building Resource Center, a roof covered variously with vegetation, solar panels and wind turbines, and an employee parking lot under the nearby elevated freeway. These sustainable elements resulted in a Gold LEED rating. They have also helped to improve the quality of the work day for the employees. mainly focused on the programmatic problem of increasing efficiency in issuing permits. Since the majority of the visitors to the building are seeking some sort of construction or development permit, these are the departments that saw the most changes. The idea was to consolidate the interface between customers and the city so that customers would not have to move from office to office throughout the new building as they did in the old one. This was accomplished using what the architects nicknamed the “race track.” It was conceived as a series of 30 kiosks where customers were supposed to drop off plans, pick them back up if they had comments, and pay for permits. The race track was designed so carts could travel from kiosk to kiosk to move plans from the first floor to the upper floors where plan reviewers were located. Because customers were expected to remain mostly on the first floor, the architects added a one-story addition that they called a “clip-on” in place of the former loading bays with wood benches for seating. Additional fire stairs required by code were added to the exterior to provide an identifiable image for the building from the adjacent freeway. An existing elevator shaft in the center of the floor plate was replaced by an open, communicating stair that could be used by employees to move from floor to floor and to provide additional natural light to the lower floors. Finishes are characterized by their “industrial” look — exposed concrete, unpainted brick, multi-lite windows, and lots of highly articulated, boltedsteel connections between architectural elements. Formal design strategies

50 Texas Architect

5/6 2013

Previous spread The

“clip on” is attached to the former loading docks and provides a main entrance and waiting areas. Sustainable features include the green roof of the “clip on,” and a variety of recycled paving surfaces. Dick Wray’s Matisse-like steel cutouts clad the elevator. This spread The facades of the 1920s warehouse were restored, and two new fire stairs now append the building. Massive concrete columns are exposed throughout the offices. On the first floor, reclaimed wood ceilings contain bar code messages related to permitting.

Texas Architect May/June 2013: Preservation  

This issue on historic preservation illustrates themany facets of the field, including restoration,rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse.

Texas Architect May/June 2013: Preservation  

This issue on historic preservation illustrates themany facets of the field, including restoration,rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse.