The Discovery Tower in Houston

Photo of The Discovery Tower in Houston, Texas

The Discovery Tower

1501 McKinney Street, Houston, Texas, Downtown Houston 77002
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Rising on the east side of downtown Houston, the Discovery Tower is helping anchor an area that some are calling Houston's "New Downtown" -- an area not bounded so much by geography, but by lifestyle.

The Discovery Tower stands along the edge of a 12-acre park that is quickly being surrounded by residential high-rises, restaurants, hotels, arenas, and other amenities meant to being modern downtown living to Houston. The Discovery Tower fits into this new cultural puzzle by bringing something unusual to its pedestrian-friendly ground floor: retail.

Two floors of restaurants and shops are expected to open up within a leisurely walk of the greenspace that is drawing thousands of people to an area that used to be little more than surface parking lots. For decades it was believed that ground-floor retail was pointless in a city like Houston. The assumption was that Houstonians loved their cars too much and people would never get out and walk, especially on a steamy summer day. Because of that, ground-level retail space was rare, and Even the city's downtown mall didn't have anything on the first floor but big brown walls until the turn of the 21st century.

Those assumptions are slowly turning around as people from other cities move to Houston and bring outside notions of urban living with them. They want to be able to walk from home to work. They want to walk to events. They want to have a green place to relax. They want to be able to be able to walk to shops. By locating this building near Discovery Green it addresses two of those needs -- office space near green space and home space; and a retail/restaruant opportunity.

As tastes continue to change and outside influences filter into the Houston ethic, Discovery Tower is embracing the energy efficiency movement. It uses a number of conservation methods to obtain a LEED gold certification. Most notable among them is the incorporation of ten wind turbines into the top of the building. How much electricity those turbines will actually generate remains to be seen. But for many it's a step in the right direction and a positive selling point.

Quick Facts
  • Floor space: 871,000 square feet
  • March 3, 2008: Groundbreaking
  • Developer: Trammel Crow Company
  • Developer: Principal Real Estate Investors
  • Architecture firm: Gensler
  • Construction: Gilbane Building Company
Stacking Diagram
Did You Know?
  • The plot of land on which this is built was formerly known as Block 126.
Green Things
  • LEED Gold certified
  • Green roof
  • Solar shading fins
  • Ten wind turbines at the top of the building help generate electricity
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