Project: Block 58 Office Building ("Texas Tower")
Texas Tower is the latest addition to the downtown Houston skyline. The design Architect, Pelli Clarke Pelli, designed the 47-story, 1.2 million square foot structure from the inside out. The goal was to give the owner, Hines Development, and the future tenants, the next generation of office space. This magnificent building is now the new worldwide headquarters for Hines Development, as well as many other significant companies. The building has been referred to as “the office of the future”. The main lobby features a two story high ceiling with a multitude of food and beverage offerings. It appears as if you entered a five-star hotel rather than a downtown office tower. Texas Tower also includes abundant space for networking, a full-service conference facility, public gardens on levels 12 and 13, and a high-performance fitness center.
Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) performed the stone work at the exterior podium, the stone landscape work at the 1st, 12th and 13th floors, the stone floors and walls at the first and second level lobbies, as well as the stone and tile work at the conference center, fitness center and all the core restrooms.
The interior lobby is nothing short of specular. You enter the lobby through an elliptical glass entry and your eyes are immediately drawn to the 30’ tall x 35’ long curved, scalloped and edge lit white marble wall. The “V” shaped stone pattern flooring seemingly leads you to it. The unique design required every piece of both the wall and the floor to have different piece sizes. Bianco Marchietta Marble from Italy was used throughout the lobby which includes the scalloped feature wall, eight 30’ tall columns, a grand stair case, and the three main elevator lobbies that are also 30’ tall. Above each of the 24 elevator doors, the Marchietta marble was made 2” thick to allow for 1” deep by 3 ¼” wide flutes to be carved into the stones. In all over 30,000 square feet of the honed Italian white marble was used in the lobby and an additional 20,000 plus square feet of honed Silver Mink Marble from Turkey was used on the lobby floors.
The owner and architect chose a tight range for the stone on this project. Two stone inspectors were utilized. CMS hired an independent inspector who worked in close coordination with our fabricator. He reviewed the dry lay of each stone and assisted in ensuring that the standards for quality control and sequencing as well as deadlines for delivery of the fabricated stone were met. The owner also hired an independent inspector to view the range of the slabs prior to cutting and to review the dry lay of each stone on the entire project.
A decision was made by the entire team to fabricate the stone many months before it would be needed, ship it to Houston and store it at an offsite location. This decision proved critical due to the COVID pandemic and the resulting supply chain impact. CMS was suddenly faced with a shortage of workers in Italy, a shortage of containers worldwide and a limited amount cargo ships coming to Houston. By starting early, 10 of the 35 containers were already fabricated and shipped prior to the start of the pandemic. However, there were still 25 containers of stone waiting to be fabricated and shipped when Italy began shutting down. Fortunately, the Italian government did not shut down the fabrication facility, but the project reality moved from having all of the stone early to receiving the last three containers as “just in time deliveries”. In fact, the last container was air freighted in order to complete the installation schedule on time. Finally, since the project is in downtown Houston, access to lay down areas and on-site storage was extremely limited. Deliveries from the off-site storage facility were required to be scheduled on an “as needed basis”.
The core restrooms throughout the building feature Dal-Tile Delegate series 24” x 24” porcelain tile floors with 12 ¾” base and 12” x 24” walls. This series of tile is designed to convey the natural look of sedimentary slate. The floor tiles consist of two colors; a dark grey field with a taupe accent at the vanity which continues up the walls. For the base, a 24” x 24” tile (from the same tile series as the 12” x 24” tile) was cut down to 12 ¾” to ensure a full tile at the ceiling. Clean terminations of all exposed vertical outside corners were accomplished with a brushed stainless steel Schulter Quadec trim. The vanity walls are accented with eye-catching custom made green triangle shaped glass mosaic tile that extends up to the ceiling.
The fitness and conference center have similar attention to detail. The accent walls feature 4’ wainscoting created with a vertical triangular tile in two different sizes positioned in between wood banding. Three courses of stacked 2 ½” wide tile and one course stacked 1 ½” wide tile emulate the look of corrugated metal. At the entry to the conference center the ceiling and walls are clad with a design tile called Phenomenon Fango Rain, which as its name suggests, evokes a texture derived from nature. In contrast, the backsplash in the pre-function area features a more modern tile called My City New York – Soho Element. The geometric lines in this tile were inspired by the transit system route maps found in the New York subway system.