Houston Endowment Launches Global Design Competition for New Headquarters
Feature Photo (above): The plateau on the north end of Spotts Park. The view to the south overlooks Buffalo Bayou and the skyscrapers along Allen Parkway. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — The Houston Endowment (HE), a philanthropic organization, launched a global design competition for its new headquarters, to be located at the edge of a scenic bluff in a park just west of downtown.
Each short-listed team that submits a compliant entry will receive an honorarium of $50,000 at the conclusion of the competition.
Design competition organizers Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) are assisting in the coordination of this competition, according to the HE announcement released Thursday.
“Through this competition, we are looking for a design team to create a new headquarters for us that reflects the way we work today,” said Ann Stern, HE President and Chief Executive Officer. “We need a visible presence that communicates our work as a thought leader and a committed, vital force within the city and region, and that is welcoming and accessible to our community partners. Equally, we need an outstanding workplace that encourages our own team to work collaboratively and effectively.
“In addition, over the past 20 years, Houston Endowment has made a significant contribution to the ‘greening’ of Houston, and this is a theme deeply woven into the project.
“This is an exciting moment for us, enabling us to establish a presence and identity at ground level in the city. It will also allow us to continue in the tradition of our founder Jesse H. Jones, who earned the nickname ‘Mr. Houston’ – in part for his contributions to building and developing our city.”
The building is to be approximately 40,000 square feet and will be the organization’s new public face. There must be space for its team and community partners, including healthy work spaces, accessible and inspiring meeting spaces, and flexible and innovative engagement facilities, HE states.
From the Spotts Park parking lot, looking east, one can see the project site to the left and the park descending toward the right. Image: Google Streets.
Funding for the project has been secured, along with the site. The project if budgeted for about $20 million, including furniture, fixtures and equipment.
HE emphasized this project is on a fast-track timetable. The building is due to open May 2022. The building is to be ready for occupation no later than May 2022.
Interested teams, after reviewing the Search Statement, are invited to submit an Expression of Interest. The team notice of interest is due 10 a.m. CDT of Monday, July 15.
A short list of at least four competitors will be selected in Stage Two of the competition. Stage Two teams will be required to propose additional consultants, including a structural engineer, MEP engineer, and architect registered in Texas.
Stage Two is to start in early August and the winner is expected to be announced in November.
The project site is at the highest elevation of Spotts Park, which overlooks the Buffalo Bayou. It is a 1.559-acre plot on a flat plateau, bounded to the south by a sharp incline that provides a 180-degree panorama to the south.
The street boundaries are Willia Street to the north adjacent, and near to the west property line is South Heights Boulevard. However, Spotts Park acts as a buffer from street traffic in three directions. Spotts Park covers 16 acres and is divided from the Buffalo Bayou greenway by Memorial Drive.
Houston Endowment does not actively fundraise. Its funding is financed by an endowment, currently valued at US$1.8 billion.
In 2018, Houston Endowment provided funding to more than 200 organizations which totaled approximately US$75 million.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.