Monday, August 8, 2016

609 Main Hines: Glass tower half full, nearing completion, with addition of crown

Stunning silhouette of the (still see-thru) penthouse loft 

A million square feet and then some: just a few more to go
Local news purveyors and press release recyclers report that half of the 1mil+ square footage on the 48-layer skyline addition has found takers, including United Holdings, of Continental fame. Kirkland & Ellis LP, a law firm, will reportedly absorb the top 2 1/2 floors and relocate staff currently officed at the Chase Tower.
Close to topping out, or shall we say sloping out 
The mock-up floor plan for lawfirm occupation provides for eight partner corner offices instead of only four, thanks to the unique exterior shape of the building, which features eight corners without conforming to the conventional idea of an octogon, with two war rooms closer to the core. Should a prospective litigation outfit niche-position itself into insurance law, two quartets of high-powered jurists will be able to tackle the matter from all corners of their own haunt, not just the eight corners of the documents. 

As a special perk even down the food chain and the pecking order, associates and other top-floor dwellers will have the swiftest ascents to their 24-hour work stations: 1400 FMP, which computes to nearly 16 mph going vertical. Not quite glass-ceiling shattering, not to mention going ballistic, but a respectable pace nonetheless. By traditional career-ladder standards anyhow. Certainly in excess of all deliberate speed. And for traditionalists, including those who abhor treadmills, the oversized inter-floor staircases (for multi-floor would-be tenants only, of course, with a critical mass of student-loan obligors eager to show prowess without stopping the clock on billable hours while heading down to the gym) will be thrown into the lease negotiations. 

After all, the cut-above motto isn't just puffing. It's all about maximizing productivity and value per dollar, not to mention square foot rather than square meter. No wonder the metric system just won't catch. The feats measured in feets will always make for bigger numbers! And who would dare to challenge the inherent logic of big foot and footprint being better than small, even if smart, not to mention beautiful.  
High efficiency is written all over the floor and the game plan. Not to mention the marketing pitch. 

Pass-through resort style water closets with full height partitions will cater to busy workers' contingencies otherwise associated with amenities wrongfully labeled bathrooms. Correctly denominated sex-segregated attire-swapping and showering facilities will be located next to the fully inclusive (presumably any/uni/non-sex) fitness center on the second floor. A state-of-the-art conference center will share in the abundant natural light on this lowly floor just above the street. And if the second-facade natural light from across the urban canyon also know as Main Street Corridor won't brighten the workday sufficiently, there is always the nothing-short-of stunning loft at the top. With direct stellar irradiation at a price. And spectacular vistas. 

In addition to the swoosh-through resort-grade Double-You-Cees at all elevations, which offer enhanced and nonetheless efficient privacy, there will be a common-area running water feature in the light-infused atrium. The promotional material does not mention water coolers. But the omission is understandable. For there is simply no need. After all, everything about this marvel of modern architecture and engineering is not only touted as cool. It really is. 

All office floors feature floor-to-ceiling windows, thus separating non-telecommuting workers from H-Town heat and humidity, and providing for ample sun-light to be enjoyed in the comfort of cleansed cold air, which will emanate from  discreet vents in the underfloor. The Romans may have invented floor-heating, but they didn't advance to subterranean cooling, at least not of the kind to be enjoyed before the final trip into the underworld. Maybe it was something in the water. Like lead. Luckily, we no longer need to worry about that. The old Romans may have gone extinct and may Zeus or Jupiter bless them, but human ingenuity has advanced in the interim. The watchword now is LEED, not LEAD. That said, credit needs to be give where credit is due. Like the idea of an ATRIUM, not just a matter of a healthy and non-broken heart, but of good architecture. 

Not that the practitioners of all things Latin, for all their massive achievements, architectural and otherwise, would have imagined something as grand as this.  

The 11-story tall atrium lobby with angled glass panes will facilitate the dispersion of natural light to illuminate the stone-clad walls and the wood paneling, along with the seating islands and "collaborative" meeting spaces framed by them. 

The new skyscraper and appended multi-level garage, built on spec by a developer renowned for its track record in skyline enhancement, footprints an entire city block bounded by Fannin and Main on the East and the West, respectively, and Capitol and Texas on the North-South axis. There will be green space in the nature of a roof garden atop the parking garage on the North end facing the Binz Building, conveniently to behold from the anticipated high-energy trading floor at the same elevation. A green wall is also planned for the hotel-grade ground-floor lobby. 

HBJ reported in Dec 2015 that Hines is shooting of LEED Platinum certification upon completion.
The entire building displays a variable palette of colors; -- contingent on variables such as season, weather, time-of-day, and lighting conditions, for the exterior skin is highly reflective in its blessed entirety. Thankfully, the facade is not curved so as to cause unintended meltdowns and blindness at focal points. Not to mention smeltering nearby pieces of art. Wisely, the building itself aspires to be a focal point, of aesthetic appreciation; -- grudging or otherwise. 

Work is currently being completed on the penthouse loft crown, which is not a crown at all (think Astoria, as a paragon), but is sloped  in a manner reminiscent of the Wells Fargo Fountain Place Tower in the Big D. But at  a more gentle angle, with lower rain-draining square footage, and with the ground-zero fountains features and faux streams dispensed with, but with flow-off recovery nonetheless to merit green-plus, blue, and platinum credentials. Amex and Centurion showed the way. 

Much rather, the latest pop-up on H-Town's horizon evokes the culturally more appropriate 
baseball cap as a metaphor. Forget about crown. Aren't we well-served with the Royalton? Which is not to suggest that 609 doesn't hold promise to become the crown jewel in Hines' collection of scrapers. 

Aug 2, 2016 view of soaring 609 Main Tower from the Historic District:
From left to right: Hines Residential Tower (Aris), El Big Bad, parking garage, The Rice Hotel, Houston Chronicle Bldg 
Skyline and blue sky addition: 609 Main seen from Main at Congress (August 2, 2016 photo)
Left: The recently made-over Harris County Administration Building;
Center: Historic Kress Building (Flying Saucer at street level);
Right: Honeymoon corner cafe & bar with Boomtown coffee roastery

At the base of the urban canyon: looking up 


Keeping their arms crossed for another successful skyline enhancement
Cranes and penthouse skeleton as of July 18, 2016 
The last few layers being added to the stack: July 16, 2016 
After the 100-year wait for a new backdrop: The Rice Hotel now
(July 16, 2006 pic)
Mirror, mirror that's not small ...
which is the fairest Pickard-Chilton tower of them all?
(Hines reflection July 11, 2006)

The art in the architecture is in the lens of the beholder 
And on more than just a singular city block 

Joan Miró sculpture on 600 Travis plaza - 609 Main crane towering over it
 Mira una nueva constelación

 Reshaping Texas on Main - A different take 

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