One Allen Center in Houston

Photo of One Allen Center in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
Photo of One Allen Center in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
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Photo of One Allen Center in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz

One Allen Center

500 Dallas Avenue, Houston, Texas, Downtown 77002
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Another one of Houston's workhorse office blocks, this building commands little attention, and gets it. Built on the concrete grid pattern used by so many buildings around the world, One Allen Center is best known for its deviation: a glass atrium on the north side, facing Smith Street. It is the first in a progressively more interesting series of buildings to bear the Allen Center name in Houston.

Quick Facts
    >7 February, 1989 - Fire breaks out in One Allen Center. It started on the then-empty fourth floor where workers were removing asbestos. No one was hurt, but the building is shut down. Investigators call it arson.
    >8 February, 1989 - The Houston Fire Department and building managers disagree about several points of the fire. The fire department says the smoke was spread by the ventilation system. Management blames a stairwell. The fire department says it was told the alarm didn't sound because it malfunctioned. Management says its security officers cancelled the alarm. Management says everyone was told to evacuate through the building's public address system. Some workers say they didn't hear the message. In a Houston Chronicle interview, one said he pulled the alarm, and nothing happened.
    >24 February, 1989 - The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston firefighers are considering suing the owners of One Allen Center because they were exposed to asbestos. Decontamination crews were brought in, and state tests indicate elevated levels of asbestos in the building, but nothing dangerous. But the tests are done long after the fire, not during its peak.
    >6 March, 1989 - One Allen Center reopens.
    >16 May, 1989 - Another fire breaks out in One Allen Center. This one happens because of an electrical short, but occurs on the same vacant floor as the last fire.
    >1 June, 1991 - Daniel Zipelman dies after falling 230 feet down an elevator shaft.
    >21 November, 1996 - TrizecHahn buys the Allen Center complex reportedly for more than $240,000,000.00.
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