Downtown Houston will soon be home to one of the largest rooftop gardens and farms in the world, thanks to the innovative reimagining of a forgotten structure. The Barbara Jordan Post Office, the massive government building nestled in the Theater District, will be transformed into a bustling, dynamic, mixed-use complex that’s meant to become the city’s new urban ecosystem.
At an official groundbreaking, Lovett Commercial revealed the plans for the more than 550,000-square-foot building, which was formerly the epicenter of the city’s mail system from 1936 to 2014. The post office will fittingly become Post Houston and will house a concert venue, retail and office concepts, restaurants, bars, an international market hall, and a flexible co-working space.
What’s sure to be a buzzworthy draw are the Buffalo Bayou and downtown views from Skylawn, the sprawling five-acre rooftop park and sustainable organic farm that calls to mind downtown rooftop green spaces in New York City. The park is designed by Hoerr Schaudt, the landscape architects behind McGovern Centennial Park in the Museum District.
Foodies, take note: The rooftop farms offer a chance for in-house restaurants to source ingredients and create a farm-to-table experience.
Design-minded guests will delight in the three new atriums; the building will be surgically punctured to create the spaces to draw in existing light utilizing an ETFE roof system — the first in Houston. Each atrium will feature a unique monumental staircase that will mark the space as coworking, culinary, or retail.
As a nod to Houston’s booming arts and cultural scene, the building will house installations and exhibits by local and international artists and will host events, according to a release.
The complex is designed by the world-renowned architecture firm OMA, along with partner Jason Long in collaboration with Houston-based Powers Brown Architecture. Diversity is a key theme, with myriad design elements and purposes — and it’s apropos that the building is named for Barbara Jordan, Houston’s beloved first African American modern-day state senator.
Other than the Day for Night festival, the site has been of interest to architecture and design circles but has largely been an afterthought. But now, the shuttered post office could become one of Houston’s most vibrant destinations with its ideal strategic location.
“This forward-thinking development is breaking away from the traditional model by creating a cultural epicenter that brings local and international cuisine, retail, art, music, and innovation to our theatre district,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner, in a statement.