Our shortlisted proposal for the design of the Houston Endowment Headquarters appears in Houston like a natural formation. It invokes Houston’s trees and canopies in its image and effects: The operable terracotta facade system filters light and provides shade and the spatial organization creates small and large pockets for gathering to invite visitors into an immersed-in-nature yet protected environment.
At the ground, engagement spaces extend into the landscape; at the upper floors, terraces breathe in light and air through cool pockets of shade. Built from many layers that mediate the climate, the project is an accumulation of softening devices that modulate the temperature, sun, and humidity. An active atrium—built from paths of movement—is the heart of the project, creating visual connection and transparency throughout, choreographing the interaction and gather of visitors and staff. We see the architecture as a cluster of centers that produce nested scales of engagement. With three sides facing the park and one towards the city, the Endowment can leverage its place as an anchor to bring the neighborhood together and develop a cohesive and inclusive plan for the park that reflects the goals of its community.