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tmariar

Former Prudential Life Building Scheduled for Demolition

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Excerpt from a recent Houston Chronicle article:

The wrecking ball is not a subtle art critic, but its opinion counts. And when it razes M.D. Anderson Cancer Center's 18-story administration tower next year, it will give a big thumbs down to Peter Hurd's 16-by-47-foot mural depicting life on a West Texas farm.

For 56 years, visitors to the building at 1100 Holcombe have been greeted by the mural's colorful array of galloping horses, mounds of produce and hard-working farm folk bursting with good health. For five years, a New Mexico gallery owned by the artist's son desperately - but unsuccessfully - has looked for someone to save the painting.

The painting is free. But the cost of removing it from the curved wall in the building's foyer, restoring it and installing it elsewhere likely would exceed $500,000.

"We are working with several universities and private individuals," said Ann Hale, director of the Hurd La Rinconada Gallery in San Patricio, N.M., "but so far there are no real solid prospects. People do want the mural. They'd be delighted to have it, but they would have to take on the responsibility of moving it. ... We have until about this August to find a new home for it."

Hale placed the mural's value at more than $3 million.

The fate of Hurd's work, which was painted in the early 1950s in the lobby of what then was the Prudential Life Insurance building, is the latest controversy facing M.D. Anderson in its quest to tear the structure down.

Local and state preservationists have protested the demolition, noting the tower, designed by Houston architect Kenneth Franzheim, was the first corporate high-rise erected outside downtown Houston.

1961 photo of the building.

GHPA mention of the building as endangered.

Some prior HAIF discussion of the building comes up in this thread and other threads - but I didn't see one devoted to the subject.

Edited by tmariar

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Hope someone saves the large bronze statues out front? They seem copper or bronze. Can't remember if they are part of that nice fountain or free standing. Pretty sure they are part of this property. :)

The building is really outdated and seems out of place amongst the neighboring modern buildings. Another icon going away.

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Hope someone saves the large bronze statues out front? They seem copper or bronze. Can't remember if they are part of that nice fountain or free standing. Pretty sure they are part of this property. :)

The building is really outdated and seems out of place amongst the neighboring modern buildings. Another icon going away.

not sure i'd agree with the outdated. just a different style. unfortunately the fish that sprayed water in the fountain were gone when i skated by there sunday.

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Nooo! I thought it had gotten a reprieve!

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I can't believe this is happening. Or maybe I can.

M.D. Anderson should be ashamed - first bad stewards of the building, now Hurd's mural.

<_<

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This building looked much better with the signage on it. Now, it just looks like an unfinished, blank space. If the building is falling apart, I guess it'll have to come down. It's right on the banks of Brays Bayou and I'm sure the ground is unstable. I'm sure they now take this into consideration regarding the engineering of foundations.

Years ago there was a swimming pool on the ground level.

Prudential must have moved over to the West Loop in the 70's (@ Bellaire). This building on the West Loop was subsequently occupied by SBC after Prudential's departure from Houston.

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I've been in the building many times, and definitely think it needs to be taken down... that piece of property is prime real estate for the TMC.

MD Anderson's point about the mural having African-Americans working the hay bales while the white people are having leisure time is interesting... I had never considered it previously. Still, the mural should be preserved somewhere.

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Years ago there was a swimming pool on the ground level.

I was wondering about the pool, which was referenced in the GHPA write-up:

"This finely detailed 18-story skyscraper was the first high-rise office building constructed outside downtown Houston. Architect Kenneth Franzheim designed the building as regional headquarters for the Prudential Insurance Co. At the time, Prudential introduced a high level of amenities for its employees including convenient parking, generous landscaped grounds, public art, tennis courts and a tropically planted swimming pool court (the pool has been filled). The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has owned and occupied the building since 1975. The Prudential Building is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a new facility within the next four years. GHPA has been in contact with M.D. Anderson, but the institution's administration is not interested in preserving the building."

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this is Houston....it is what we do! :D

would be nice to save the painting though

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How disappointing...can't say I am surprised though. :angry: Consider myself lucky to have been in the building. My dad's employer, Unocal had offices in the Prudential bldg. when I was young. Remember looking out the window at the swimming pool. Was very far down. Too bad some of the materials can't at least be reused somewhere. I like the bronze look of the details. And the use of landscape in the original plan. :( At least someone has the fountain somewhere.

Can someone please take some pics!!!

Edited by NenaE

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Does anyone know the demolition date?

A quote from the AIA Architecturlal Guide (Stephen Fox) edition, "Since acquiring the building in 1975 the University of Texas has maintained it with the consideration that it deserves". What happened? :(

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i was talking to my aunt who worked there in the 50's and 60's. she said she had some fond memories of the building. she said the pool was monstrous. my mom said that she got her tickets to go swim there but my aunt didn't remember. she also said the food in the cafeteria was wonderful.

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I know some folks that work at MDACC and they know less than we do :(

I'll keep asking around, though.

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I can't believe this is happening. Or maybe I can.

M.D. Anderson should be ashamed - first bad stewards of the building, now Hurd's mural.

<_<

i agree.

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How disappointing...can't say I am surprised though. :angry: Consider myself lucky to have been in the building. My dad's employer, Unocal had offices in the Prudential bldg. when I was young. Remember looking out the window at the swimming pool. Was very far down. Too bad some of the materials can't at least be reused somewhere. I like the bronze look of the details. And the use of landscape in the original plan. :( At least someone has the fountain somewhere.

My Dad worked there also for UnoCal. Went there a lot in the late 50’s early 60’s when I was a kid. I use to sometimes hang with the receptionist/operator. (I think her name was LaVeda) This was back when she had to plug wires into a console to redirect a call. She would let me help her.

I worked for a while in the building in the late 80's when I was with UTHSC. It was pretty cool but definitely outdated even then.

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Hope someone saves the large bronze statues out front? They seem copper or bronze. Can't remember if they are part of that nice fountain or free standing. Pretty sure they are part of this property. :)

The building is really outdated and seems out of place amongst the neighboring modern buildings. Another icon going away.

It sounds like "a piece of the Rock" will soon be "pieces of rock."

post-5880-1208382833.jpg

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I've been in the building many times, and definitely think it needs to be taken down... that piece of property is prime real estate for the TMC.

MD Anderson's point about the mural having African-Americans working the hay bales while the white people are having leisure time is interesting... I had never considered it previously. Still, the mural should be preserved somewhere.

Someone said the Prudential building was on Holcombe. Does anyone know the address number?

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Someone said the Prudential building was on Holcombe. Does anyone know the address number?

1100 Holcombe - near the southeast corner of the Holcombe-Fannin intersection

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My grandfather used to have a big office in there. I believe he was the Southwest sales VP for Prudential.

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Bro works there for UTTV ( UT/ Med center in-house productions) and they have already moved to the TB Pickens Tower. I had a friend whose Dad worked for Prudential back in the 60s and I had many opportunities to go to the pool at the building. It was quite a sight and place for splashing around. Great locker facilities and underwater glass for looking into the pool if I recall correctly. Hope they salvage some of the granite from the building as well as the fountain. As said before, another icon will go up in a cloud of smoke and debris

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The Houston Main Building (HMB) closes Thursday, April 1, to prepare for its eventual demolition, most likely in Fiscal Year 2011.After April 1, the building will be surrounded by construction fencing, and pedestrian traffic through the building no longer will be permitted. Pedestrians must use the existing sidewalks to travel around the building. Follow the walkway to the Mays Clinic west lobby to access the Mays Clinic and the Cancer Prevention Building.Signs will be posted to guide pedestrians along the proper pathways. In the past few weeks, departments that had offices in HMB have been relocated. Group exercise classes have temporarily relocated to the Cancer Prevention Building, Floor 8 (CPB8.302) until their permanent location in the Pickens Academic Tower fitness and wellness center is available.

Quoted from MD Anderson. HMB being the old Prudential building. 

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Looks like it's time for pictures for a before, during, and after construction is due.

I elect Jax. He's closer than anyone else, and that corner is a pain to get to.

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