600 Jefferson is a 20-story office building located on the corner of Jefferson Street and Smith Street. Stream Realty, the current owner, felt the 450,000 sq. ft. Class B office structure (which was constructed in 1972) was in need of a major renovation when they purchased the building in 2014. They immediately began working on the transformation which included changes to create tenant friendly lobby areas on the first and second levels. Additionally, the building name and address was changed from 600 Jefferson to the more prominent 1801 Smith Street.
Initial pricing of the specified stone types exceeded the project budget for the stonework and some consideration was given to deleting the stone in its entirety. Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) worked with the project team to locate alternate stones and a stone-look porcelain panel that would be more economical, yet still provide the look the architect desired. In the end, CMS was responsible for the shop drawings, supply and installation of 6,000 sq. ft. of 2 cm polished Bianco Gioia (first quality) marble, 950 sq. ft. of 2 cm honed Mystery White marble, 11,200 sq. ft. of 2 cm honed Pietra del Cardosa schist, 450 sq. ft. of ½” honed Pietra del Cardosa schist, 900 sq. ft. of 3 cm thermal Pietra del Cardosa schist, 2250 sq. ft. of ¼” thick Dark Vena large format porcelain panels and 535 sq. ft. of 2” smooth finish cast stone.
This renovation project required that all work be completed with no disruption to the day to day activities of the tenants which include the main offices for the Houston Fire Department and United Airlines. The demolition of the existing finishes and installation of the new stone walls and paving required careful coordination and planning with numerous components performed after hours and on weekends. In addition to the general safety of the public on a construction site, it was critical that paths of egress to accommodate a fully functioning 20-story office building be maintained.
The main lobbies at levels 1 and 2 have prominent areas of the Bianco Gioia marble wall cladding. The material was blended and dry laid in Italy to assure a very uniform appearance. Additionally, there is an added accent wall adjacent to the grand stairway that is clad with the Dark Vena large format porcelain panels. The wood grain appearance of the tile (resembling a natural stone called Eramosa) and the wall’s massive size (30 feet long and 33 feet high, extending from the level 1 paving to the level 2 ceiling) is the focal point in the lobby. The grand stairway is fully clad with Mystery White marble and its soft off-white and translucent appearance complements the dark wood grain accent wall. Pietra del Cardosa schist pavers measuring 15” x 30” flow throughout the level 1 and level 2 lobbies and extend into the fully renovated elevator cabs that serve the building and the parking garage. Pietra del Cardosa schist in a thermal finish is used for the exterior areas at the Jefferson Street entry as well as the new Smith Street entrance.
The careful selection and use of the various finishes resulted in a modern update for this classic 45 year old building. The renovation and rebranding will appeal to the existing tenants and help attract new ones to Houston’s continuing downtown urban transformation.