Triton

Allen Center Redevlopment

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My source has been telling me to keep this under wraps for a while but he gave me the go-ahead today...

Brookfield Office Properties is actively consulting with an architecture firm to completely renovate One Allen Center, inside and out. The start date is sometime in 2014. No renderings yet. Brookfield is doing this "to remain competitive in the CBD while new office towers are springing forward" and older ones are also considering renovations. The plan is to give it a sleek new redesign. I can't go into any further detail but my source is 100% legit. He is the person that is actively working with Brookfield, and he is also working on the JW Marriott renovations as well.  

 

 

Really hope we can get another person to confirm this as well but it is 100% happening. 

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Interior improvements on the other buildings; so far, I've only heard an entirely new facade for One Allen Center. We should hear news about this in the next few weeks/months.

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I would love for 3 Allen Center to get a new facade since it has the most impact on our skyline of the Allen Center buildings. But hopefully all three Allen Center buildings & the DoubleTree get new facades that compliment each other, kind of like 4 Allen Center (1400 Smith) now compliments it's younger siblings in the Chevron complex.

Edited by tigereye
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Supposed to be redesigning the lobby to be more open and glass (like the redo of El Paso building is how the leasing manager described to me). I don't remember but may also be trying to redo to make the lobby street level instead of on the 2nd floor in the current layout.

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I work in 1 Allen.  Will see if I can find anything out.

 

Yes please! I should be able to release the architecture firm on Monday. We'll see.

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I like the simple stateliness of the existing building, although I agree it's kind of meat-and-potatoes compared to the buildings around it. Is that travertine marble on the facade?

 

I hope we don't enter a trend where all the older, less-is-more buildings with stone or masonry finishes get covered up by sleek sexy glass skins in order to attract tenants. (This will probably attract the usual people who complain that I'm complaining.)

 

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I like the simple stateliness of the existing building, although I agree it's kind of meat-and-potatoes compared to the buildings around it. Is that travertine marble on the facade?

 

I hope we don't enter a trend where all the older, less-is-more buildings with stone or masonry finishes get covered up by sleek sexy glass skins in order to attract tenants.

 

Agreed.  Let's not repeat the mistakes of earlier eras (the 1960s-70s), when it was thought that all buildings must be updated to the then-current "look".  Who wants a downtown filled with buildings of all the same style? 

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Actually Allen Center presents a nice little digest of late 20th century architecture.  One and Two are very much late 1960s precast semi-brutalist.  Three has the 1970s brown thing going, and Four (Enron-Chevron) looks 1980s enough.  I would prefer to stick with the discontinuity in style.  I said it connection with the Exxon Building:  refacing is so often a mistake in retrospect.  

 

 

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definitely do not want to see the facade of three allen redone - i think that building looks absolutely fine as is.  i agree with subdude that the discontinuity in designs is part of the charm.

 

that said these buildings aren't built to act as large, static art pieces - they are built as investment vehicles for their owners and redesigning/renovating is often necessary for them to remain competitive in the market.

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definitely do not want to see the facade of three allen redone - i think that building looks absolutely fine as is.  i agree with subdude that the discontinuity in designs is part of the charm.

 

that said these buildings aren't built to act as large, static art pieces - they are built as investment vehicles for their owners and redesigning/renovating is often necessary for them to remain competitive in the market.

 

That's true, but I think that in the long run the best bet is to renovate building innards and leave the exteriors alone.  Exterior styles change and everything is going to go through a period of looking tired and dated before starting to be seen as charming and representative of its time period.  For example, for a long time I personally thought that the GRB was hideous, but now it seems a great example of historical 1980s post-modernism.  

 

As an aside, the other great example of historical style progression at one site in Houston was IAH (until until the terminals were renovated).  A&B were great late 1960s brutalist, C had the 1970s brown thing going, D was another great example of 1980s post-modernism, and then E catches us up to the present. 

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I think 3 Allen Center is a fine, handsome building with good texturing. Hope it doesn't get redone. As Mies van der Rohe once said, "God is in the details." What I think he meant by that is that really careful handling of details in an otherwise minimalist building can have a greater effect than big splashy design elements. The opposite of this approach might be the Memorial Hermann building on Katy Fwy.

 

Redoing the exteriors of buildings can be like redesigning sports team uniforms - even if the initial design is only average, it will likely gain in quality in the long run. The Yankees pinstripes was a pretty average design a hundred years ago; now it's a classic.

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It is a shame that they are so eager to redo the facade to completely change the look. After every old building is a shining blue glass box, what will they all become next? The different colors and textures make for a more aesthetic skyline/downtown. I'm not saying One Allen Center is a masterpiece of refined architecture... But why not put all that time, money, and effort to make the interiors state of the art? End of rant. 

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It is a shame that they are so eager to redo the facade to completely change the look. After every old building is a shining blue glass box, what will they all become next? The different colors and textures make for a more aesthetic skyline/downtown. I'm not saying One Allen Center is a masterpiece of refined architecture... But why not put all that time, money, and effort to make the interiors state of the art? End of rant.

Because they lack imagination.

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So far nobody at my firm has heard anything about it, so I guess they aren't telling tenants anything yet.

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They haven't told tenants anything. I guess I was actually hoping someone worked for Brookfield here. Guess not. So far, Brookfield is simply in the consultation phase with an architecture firm. But from the quotes I've heard, they realize they need to do something to their Allen complexes soon because of the newer planned office buildings and the planned renovations of several places such as Pennzoil Place and the ExxonMobil building. If they don't, they will not be as competitive anymore.

 

And to answer an earlier question, it is a local firm.. I actually gave it away with the JWMarriot renovations so if anyone wants to dig deep, they can find out who it is. 

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I like the simple stateliness of the existing building, although I agree it's kind of meat-and-potatoes compared to the buildings around it. Is that travertine marble on the facade?

 

I hope we don't enter a trend where all the older, less-is-more buildings with stone or masonry finishes get covered up by sleek sexy glass skins in order to attract tenants. (This will probably attract the usual people who complain that I'm complaining.)

 

Although I don't advocate changing the facade, it really isn't my favorite design.  It is amazing how common that basic format was used back then.

 

 

Cullen Center

335827-Large.jpg

 

West Loop

WLoopS01_small.jpg

 

Greenway Plaza

view-on-greenway-plaza.jpg

 

Plus there are plenty of near-identical ones in other cities.  I've seen one in Dallas.  It's like in the late 1960s there was some collective failure of architectural imagination.  Of course future generations will probably say the same thing about our beige fake stucco of today...

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I think it indeed was a failure of the imagination. Just look at all the proposals from their respective eras.

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am i missing a renovated 1AC? it looks like the facade is still the same?

There's a different architect for the new 1AC facade.

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Those benches would make great "jumps" if Rockstar ever did a GTA: Houston edition.  And those two businessmen are really close to the street!

 

Other than that, looks like they are just jazzing everything up a little.  Not bad.

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Looks like they eliminate one of the bridges between One and Two.

 

Is this an actual plan or just a proposal?

 

It's status is,"on the boards." Proposal.

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i hope they go through with this proposal.. i know theyve at least been talking about sprucing up the complex.. this looks like a great way to do that.

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Notice those rusty-looking three-piece steel sculpture thingies they have scattered about?  Those also show up in the 5 Allen Center rendering.  Probably they are supposed to indicate that the buildings are all part of Allen Center.  One would never know it from the architecture.  

 

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Notice those rusty-looking three-piece steel sculpture thingies they have scattered about?  Those also show up in the 5 Allen Center rendering.  Probably they are supposed to indicate that the buildings are all part of Allen Center.  One would never know it from the architecture.  

 

Yea, I noticed it too. lol. I think also that they are adding a new parking garage (in the first rendering on 5 Allen Center thread) 

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Plus there are plenty of near-identical ones in other cities. I've seen one in Dallas. It's like in the late 1960s there was some collective failure of architectural imagination.

I may be in the minority, but I like them. Not just a fan of the 60s-70s brutalist-style architecture, but the fact that they are simple, practical, and built to last. A glassy skyscraper or two is really nice but you can't overdo it (for an example of how this goes horribly wrong, look at Vancouver's skyline). On the other side of the "simple concrete" spectrum is crazy modernist buildings that cost way more than an equivalent building, have all sorts of engineering problems, and look dated even quicker.

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Notice those rusty-looking three-piece steel sculpture thingies they have scattered about?  Those also show up in the 5 Allen Center rendering.  Probably they are supposed to indicate that the buildings are all part of Allen Center.  One would never know it from the architecture.

Maybe we're getting some corten steel sculptures by Richard Serra.

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I realize this is just a proposal, but one thing that is interesting is the sunken plaza with waterfall between One and Two.  I'm assuming this is a large entrance to the food court and tunnel connections below.  There seems to be more interest in connecting the tunnels to street level.  I think this will be a major focus in the design of the Skanska Capitol Tower as well.

 

 

 

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Can confirm this is still on track. Unless they leak earlier, expect public renderings late Q1 to Q2.

 

Edit: Unless they leak very soon*

Edited by Triton

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What seems odd is redoing the facade for One Allen Center and not Two.  What's that about?

 

 

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No updates on my part. I haven't talked to my source in a while now and he was more of a client of mine so I will have to wait. It's not someone I can text randomly about a project. Trouble is, I may have a different job in the next month with CBRE so we'll have to see what happens. Either way, there should have been something released. I'm guessing there's a delay. To answer Subdude, it sounds like there isn't just one architect designing this project. What I mean is, my source was from a local architecture company and was working on the new One Allen Center design. After talking to someone else on this forum a while back, it sounds like a strong possibility that Brookfield Properties is....diversifying their building designs. So there can certainly be something in the works for Two Allen Center as well but there's not any information I know of so I didn't feel like speculating about it.

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Although I don't advocate changing the facade, it really isn't my favorite design.  It is amazing how common that basic format was used back then.

 

 

Cullen Center

335827-Large.jpg

 

West Loop

WLoopS01_small.jpg

 

Greenway Plaza

view-on-greenway-plaza.jpg

 

Plus there are plenty of near-identical ones in other cities.  I've seen one in Dallas.  It's like in the late 1960s there was some collective failure of architectural imagination.  Of course future generations will probably say the same thing about our beige fake stucco of today...

 

None of this was from a lack of imagination it was simply a product of the times. This is textbook modernism. Everything from the monumentality, to materiality as an outward expression of the program inside. These types of buildings even had Houston climate in mind with all the windows sunken in to shade the interior, and to give the outside an exoskeleton superstructure aesthetic.

 

Architect's during this period wanted to stay as far away from "ornament" as possible and championed the crisp lines, geometry, and rigor modernism had to offer. These buildings represent the idea that the office is simply a machine to work in and so should look, feel, function like so. Now don't get me wrong, there are some good examples of this and bad examples of this. In my option it isn't a masterpiece of the time period, but I think it's a really great group of buildings of that period. Greenway plaza is almost a modernist ideal frozen in time. I think it's unique and should be preserved and not change "skin" to go with whats trendy at a point in time.

 

This goes for a majority of them, at least ones that have been well cared for. The ones at the Allen are ok and not spectacular. It's a shame they have to be changed, but if it means the building survives and sees fresh start then thats just fine. As long as the renovation isn't simply skin deep then it sounds fine to me.

Edited by Luminare

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Isn't that architecture style called minimalism?

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I think of it as office-park brutalism.  Most of the "classic" modernism was years before these.  The plain concrete-facade office building seemed to have its heyday from around the mid 1960s to late 1970s, when architects got sick of it and moved into post-modernism.  My guess is that a large part of the rationale for these designs wasn't as much the theoretical tenets of minimalism as much as economics.  It must have been relatively cheap to stamp out hundreds of standardized concrete facade units that could be plugged into place.  

 

Re: One and Two Allen Center, the exteriors are rather banal but I think the interiors are rather nice, considering.  

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Interesting comments.  Subdude, your comment reminded me of something I hadn't thought about for years.  That of seeing myriad concrete rectangles being made ready to plug into place in complexes like Greenway Plaza.  I also like Luminare's comment about the crisp lines and geometry ... I appreciate that in the core Greenway Plaza buildings.  However, for some reason, I've never liked the earlier Hines building (nee "Control Data") on 610 as much, even though it seems quite similar.  I think that was an SOM design ... don't know about the GP buildings.  

 

I had a summer job in the GP underground in maybe 1970.  At that time, it seemed to be the ultimate in modernity, even though it felt rather sterile even at that time.

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I enjoy the simplicity and era they represent. It's a shame when developers want to erase the facades and turn them into something that's popular now. I don't get why they wouldn't just use that money to make the interiors state of the art, and really set it above the competition. Give the market something it's never seen before.

The styles we're seeing built (interior, don't get me started on the exteriors), around Houston are nothing new. Europe and the East Coast have had these for years now.

Maybe I'm ignorant so hopefully someone can shed some light on this for me. Are potential renters more concerned with how the building looks from the outside or from the inside?

Edited by Montrose1100
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i guess Brookfield is trying to get out of Allen Center instead of pour more money in..

http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2014/10/brookfield-reportedly-selling-a-stake-in-office.html

 

Did you even read the article?    They are only proposing to sell a minority interest. They are just trying to take a little money off the table, so to speak, perhaps even to "pour" it into Allen Center and other of their developments.  Hardly trying to get out of Allen Center.

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Did you even read the article?    They are only proposing to sell a minority interest. They are just trying to take a little money off the table, so to speak, perhaps even to "pour" it into Allen Center and other of their developments.  Hardly trying to get out of Allen Center.

lmao.. no, i just skimmed the article and saw parts about "them selling two downtown properties from their portfolio" and Allen Center being one of them.. didnt catch the minor percentage stake part.

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