Houston center makeover

Pivotal downtown Houston complex transforms into walkable, mixed-use greenspace

Pivotal downtown center transforms into walkable, mixed-use greenspace

Allen Center Houston Center Central Plaza
Expect a digital water wall, entertainment space, and a soaring staircase. Photo courtesy of Brookfield Properties

A pivotal complex in downtown is about to get a major makeover. With an eye toward making the four-building complex of Houston Center a vibrant destination for tenants and visitors, Brookfield Properties has some significant changes in the works as it continues its redevelopment of the area.

Construction is set to begin next month, with a completion date of late 2020, and will turn Houston Center into a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly destination offering a mix of features and amenities including restaurants, retail, and greenspace.

Occupying five blocks and 9.2 acres along McKinney Street, the Houston Center campus is the largest property by square footage in the city’s urban core. LyondellBasell Tower, 2 Houston Center, Fulbright Tower, 4 Houston Center, and The Shops at Houston Center anchor the site. Brookfield acquired the mixed-use complex in December 2017.

Brookfield’s renovation plans concentrate on making street-level changes that pull in visitors, workers and shoppers. The ambitious plans begin with an entirely new arrival experience through a reimagined central plaza and greenspace along McKinney Street, offering seamless connection to the street-level and nearby attractions.

The plaza will include a digital water wall, entertainment space that can morph depending on the size and scope of events, and a soaring staircase connecting the plaza to the terraces above. Extensive renovations will be made to both 2 Houston Center and LyondellBasell Tower’s lobbies, along with modernizing the elevators. The skybridges will be reclad, still offering an interior connection between the office spaces and the shopping and retail center, which itself will see an overhaul. There are also plans for a new, state-of-the-art fitness center, conferencing venues and co-working spaces, and a new outdoor skydeck.

“Brookfield Properties’ approach is predicated on our distinctive Placemaking vision creating successful mixed-use environments offering experiential destinations for today’s office worker, consumers, and visitors alike,” says Travis Overall, Executive Vice President and Head of the Texas Region for Brookfield Properties. “Together with our design teams at Gensler and Clark Condon, Houston Center will be a best-in-class destination.”

The idea is to create an amenity-rich destination that makes for an environment that fosters a live-work-play philosophy. Circulation spaces will be seamless and spacious, providing pedestrians with direct access to the heart of Houston Center: a new greenspace along McKinney Street. A more walkable, pedestrian-friendly McKinney Street, a key downtown corridor, is planned including wider sidewalks and landscaping allowing for more outdoor dining patios and an overall more welcoming experience.

“The re-imagining of Houston Center and McKinney Street will add to downtown's list of attractions creating a bustling linear space lined with restaurants, nightlife, parks and landscaping, connecting Main Street to Discovery Green and Avenida Houston,” says Bob Eury, Downtown District president.

The emphasis on a more people-focused environment, allows for the what will be tantamount to a new neighborhood in the ever-changing downtown landscape.