Williams Tower in Houston

Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Williams Tower in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Williams Tower
Formerly:Transco Tower
Formerly:2800 Post Oak

2800 Post Oak Boulevard, Houston, Texas, West Loop 77056
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Architecturally familiar, but culturally significant to the people of Houston. The Williams Tower rises 64 stories over the Galleria Area and has become an icon of the city. Had it been cast in stone, rather than glass it would be easily mistaken for any of the skyscrapers that went up before the Great Depression. Now it is a memorial to those buildings that went before it, and still in-line with the other glass blocks that share its zip code.

The Williams Tower is actually constructed as two 32-story buildings stacked on top of each other. The first floor lobby services the Williams Corporation and its offices on floors three through 32. The second floor lobby services a number of other companies on floors 33-64.

Tenants boast that this is the tallest office building outside an urban core in America.

Unlike most buildings in the Bayou City, the Williams Tower is impressive at night. Even though it has the same light-dimming skyline-ruining glass that the other towers in the city do, the Williams Tower makes up for it by having a rotating beacon on top. It's similar to an aircraft beacon, but much more visible. It is said that its rotation was at one time synchronized with a similar beacon on the Palmolive Building in Chicago, but there is little proof.

There is a sky lobby that also serves as an observation deck on the 51st floor.. Unfortunately, it faces out over dull suburbia, rather than towards downtown, or any of Houston's other six skylines. You may not be able to go there, anyway. It was closed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the public hasn't been welcome since.

Quick Facts
Statistics
  • Floor space: 1,500,000 square feet
Timeline
  • 1985: A man was arrested for climbing the outside of the Transco Tower. Donald Treste was wearing a gorilla costume and using suction cups to inch his way up the building's glass facade.
  • December 16, 2002: A man described by his family as mentally ill took his own life by leaping from the Williams Tower. Ryan Hartley stopped rush hour traffic and caused a spectacle when he started climbing the outside of the glass building at 7:45am. Hartley, a skilled rock climber and University of Houston student, used only a hook and a small bag of chalk to make it to the 26th floor where he slipped, but then re-gained control. Witnesses say he paused for a few minutes, smiled, then leapt from the tower to his death while local television helicopters whirled overhead. Though Hartley appeared be a loyal Christian, and regularly attended services and activities at his church, KHOU Television reported that he left behind a suicide note denouncing American military involvement in Muslim countries, and warning that the country was getting itself into another Vietnam-style conflict.
  • March 25, 2008: The Houston Chronicle reports that Hines REIT bought this building and the adjacent parking garage for $271,500,000.
  • November, 2009: This building was awarded LEED Gold status.
Notes
  • Developer: Gerald Hines
  • Architect: Philip Johnson
  • Architecture firm: Johnson/Burgee Architects
  • Architecture firm: Morris Aubry Architects
  • The building was designed to be 64 stories tall, matching the highest stock price that Transco had reached at the time.
  • Similarly, the nearby waterwall is 64 feet tall.
  • The building was inspired by a number of other structures including the Nebraska state capitol, Chartres Cathedral in France, and 1920's art deco skyscrapers.
Green Things
  • This building is LEED Gold certified
  • This building has six Energy Star labels
  • This building has an Energy Star rating of 85 (as of 2009)
  • This building makes extensive use of reflective surfaces to reduce its heat island profile
Forum Discussions Talk about this building with other architecture enthusiasts
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Your Thoughts

There are 29 comments.

  What a pleasure to work in this wonderful building. It is truly a magnificent structure - nothing close to "average" or "unremarkable" as someone said. It is truly remarkable, and the epitome of elegance in every respect. The eastward view of the Houston downtown district, all around it and the Medical Center and area at Greenway, is outstanding!

Thomas L Stanley - Friday, August 29th, 2014 @ 7:32am  

   The President said, "Speak softly but carry a big stick." Wow! It's so big! It's so breath taking beautiful! Could stare inawe at it forever - while driving carefully.Makes be proud to be a small part of allthat makes the city great. Yet, there is a quiteness andpeace that covers the mind just in thebeholding - that is the "speak softly" partthat enables inter reflection. To me, the Tower seeps thesame power & force as the Great Ladyin New York City. ALL the people whose minds,spirits, and souls made this structurepossible for so many of us to join in civicpride - thank you for your gift.

Fred Duncan Cobbs - Friday, December 17th, 2010 @ 10:31am  

  One point most people miss about this imposing structure is that, as you drive past it on either the 610 Loop or the Southwest Freeway, it appears to change shape much as the old Singer Building in NYC did. Sometime, let someone else drive, then, watch for yourself. Williams Tower is truly a Houston masterpiece.

Dan Gallo - Monday, December 6th, 2010 @ 8:33pm  

  Iconic. Stoic. Brave. Captivating. Stellar. How can you not love this building?

Mike - Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 @ 9:45pm  

  Its so elegant and beautiful!! A wonder indeed!!I love working here:-)

Smita - Sunday, March 7th, 2010 @ 12:12pm  

  Recently started getting interested in architecture, and this building seems beautiful. I wish I could go on the observation deck on a rainy day, but its too bad thats impossible now since its closed.

CR - Monday, November 2nd, 2009 @ 11:03pm  

   Quite a magnificent structure showing the effiiciency of design & construction. Another great example of Phillip Johnson as Architect & Hines Interest as Developer. Much of the praise would have to go to Gene Moss who was the Sr Director of Construction for Hines. It was my pleasure to have been part of Mr. Moss construction team as Gen. Supt. of J. A Jones Construction Co. Never have I known a more knowledgeable individual of true Skill, Integrity & Responsibility!. What a pleasure it is to look back as being a part of one the Worlds greatest piece of design & construction. Too add to it the construction broke a worlds record in completion of 15 months.

Jay Thomason - Sunday, August 9th, 2009 @ 2:42am  

   I can remember when they built Transco Tower. It is now a land mark homeward. For a few years I was able to work as a contractor on a lot of floors.The view is awesome! Yes, it is like being in a cloud on rainy days. On one very clear day it seemed I could see the beach. (Spring Fever?) Those years will be always in my head when I see it. The Water Wall is a great place for lunch. Now that both sides flow again, take a friend. Good job Williams. Thanks.

Kathy Strong - Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 @ 9:39pm  

  Having moved from ABQ where the mountains are on the East, this building helps me keep direction in the city.

Tate - Friday, April 24th, 2009 @ 9:22pm  

  While attending college at the University of Houston I had a chance to work in this tower and from my very first entry into the area I thought it was the most striking building I had ever seen. Now that I am the CEO of a Web Development company I one day will have a office space in this building. I love the city of Houston and the culture. I look forward to calling it home again soon 4/1/2009

Dr. Cleve A Trusclair - Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 @ 2:39am  

  Great Architecture, Awesome....stunning. The water wall is a thrill. Outstanding piece of Great Architecture.

Abhishek Shrivastava - Friday, October 17th, 2008 @ 3:18am  

  I remember this building as a child, I love this building

Brenton Allen McClanahan - Thursday, March 20th, 2008 @ 12:21pm  

  One of the reasons this is such a significan structure in Houston (IMHO) is that it is very much taller than anything else near it. One can see this building from almost anywhere in this city. AdditionallY, I have personally been able to see this building from College Station, Tx just after takeoff from the airport (I fly and it was a very clear day). The building is not only attractive and efficient, but a landmark due to it's placement.

David Perry - Thursday, November 8th, 2007 @ 8:33am  

  I work right next to Williams Tower and have a view of it from my office window and I admire it everyday, I love the view and am so proud that this structure is in Houston, Texas.

Pamela - Wednesday, August 15th, 2007 @ 4:29pm  

  "BEAUTIFUL" for many different reasons.totally AWESOME.

Avitosh Tiwari - Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 @ 5:19pm  

  It doesn't get any better than this!!

STEPHEN VEAL - Wednesday, April 11th, 2007 @ 10:38pm  

  The architect has to be praised. To build such a magnificent high-rise in the Galleria area gives those who are West of the city something to navigate by when coming into Houston from the West. And the waterfall cooling tower is a thrill.

Harold Johnson - Friday, February 9th, 2007 @ 2:56am  

  Me parece un edificio muy vanguardista y a la vez sobrio sus linea son muy simetricas. en fin un edificio muy agradable e la vicion de la urbanidad de texas.

Rafael Cabanillas - Friday, January 26th, 2007 @ 8:13pm  

  When I look at this magnificent and powerful structure I think of Howard Roark, the famed architecht of non-conformity in Ayn Rands novel "The Fountainhead". Inside the lower lobby on the west side of the building you can get lost in time as the two mural paintings that adorn the rear wall represents the construction of this amazing structure back in the days the novel depicts. Its an icon here in Houston and for me represents beauty in simplicity. It remains strong, bold and beautuful. It's clearly a treasure amongst Phillip Johnson's outstanding collection.

Susie Qzzer - Friday, December 1st, 2006 @ 10:10am  

  Just to see the tower shine it's beacon light at night, gives you an aww seen while driving passed the galleria area coming into the Northwest side of Houston. Oustanding at night with it's beautiful Waterwall.

Daniel Bolduc - Monday, July 24th, 2006 @ 12:20am  

  it is quite greaat structure showing effieciency of architect and cunstruction company

architect ilyas siddiqui - Saturday, July 22nd, 2006 @ 3:37am  

  A true architectural momument due to the efforts and creativity of Phillip Johnson, John Burgee and Gerald Hines that will long live in architectural history.

Gene Moss - Monday, May 1st, 2006 @ 7:29pm  

  Another great Johnson/Burgee enhancement to Houston's skyline.

Dave Bastida - Wednesday, April 12th, 2006 @ 4:09pm  

  Absolutely imposing.

Eugene Smith - Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 @ 4:37pm  

   I've seen this skyscraper so many times on my way to The Galleria. This skyscraper is not the tallest here in houston, but it might be the best known. Its just beutiful from the inside and outside in my opinion its one of the most beutiful skyscrapers in the world.

john - Sunday, March 20th, 2005 @ 8:36pm  

  The most magnificent high rise office tower across America due to its reflective nature during the different times of the day. Even more so at night.

Joy Anderson - Friday, March 18th, 2005 @ 12:31pm  

  Very nice structure, just awesome

Christian - Sunday, January 30th, 2005 @ 12:45pm  

  It's average. The only striking aspect of this building is that it stands taller than everything around it. I admire the linear facade and the monolithic style, but, to quote the article, it is "in-line with the other glass blocks that share its zip code" -- in other words, unremarkable. And I can't believe the article complains about its light-dimming glass, as if we don't already have enough light pollution.

Alan MacHett - Thursday, January 27th, 2005 @ 8:20pm  

  this structure is builtiful

John Mcenzie - Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004 @ 7:04pm  

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