William R. Franks
Westin Houston Medical Center
Roti Modern Mediterranean
Pearl Hospitality redeveloped and revitalized the Houston Medical Towers building into the Westin Houston Medical Center and dining promenade that serves the Texas Medical Center (TMC) and surrounding community. The repurposing of the building created a 273-room hotel with 18,000 square feet of meeting space, 24,000 square feet of street level dining and outdoor cafes, and a 400+ car garage. A new addition rooftop terrace and pool, designed to meet NPS standards, overlooks Rice University and the Museum District. The overall project came to fruition as a thoughtful collaboration between preservationists, architects, designers, and hotelier. MHA Houston consulted on preservation work and historic tax credits.
The rehabilitation of Medical Towers building also created over 1,200 jobs through construction and operations. The redeveloped building has become an integral part of the community, serving the dining and hospitality needs of a diverse local population and countless visitors who visit the area each day.
Medical Towers was designed by Gordon Bunshaft of the acclaimed architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) and served as their introduction to Houston’s architectural landscape. SOM partnered with Houston architectural firm, Goleman & Rolfe. Pritzker Architecture Prize-winner Gordon Bunshaft drew inspiration from his famed Lever House in New York City. Construction began in 1954 when the Texas Medical Center (TMC), founded in 1945, was a suburban area of largely open prairie south of downtown near Hermann Park and the Rice Institute (now Rice University). Medical Towers marked the post-WWII expansion of the TMC and development of new commercial office and retail spaces to accommodate this growth. Today, the TMC is the largest medical center in the world, employing more than 110,000 people with more than 15 million visitors a year.
Medical Towers was one of Houston’s earliest mid-century modern designs and one of the city’s first glass-and-steel podium-style office buildings. In 2016, the Medical Towers building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The building is in the process of becoming a City of Houston historic landmark.
Preservation efforts also included sensitive cleaning and restoration of the building’s exterior masonry and curtain wall. More than 4,000 individual bricks were repaired and gently washed along the east and west end walls. The curtain wall’s rectilinear turquoise exterior spandrel panels and aluminum frames were also carefully cleaned and appropriately treated.
On the interior, a challenge of the project involved the retention of the tower’s historic curtain wall. Creative interior design integrated the proportions of the windows (which sit four feet off the ground—a higher than normal level for modern hotel standards) and take advantage of the abundance of natural light.
Preservation Houston | 2021 Good Brick Award
The latest in MHA news and HTC developments