Houston Allen Center Complex

Location: Houston, Texas, USA
Program: Mixed-use

above, 8th level plan blow-up

Research & Analysis

Allen Center, a 3.1 million-square-foot office complex, is located in the downtown Houston Central Business District and comprised of Allen Center One, Two, and Three. Originally, this area was considered to be an eastern portion of the Fourth Ward. However, with the opening of Interstate 45 in the 1950s, this portion became separated from the rest of the Fourth Ward, becoming a part of downtown Houston and eventually the Allen Center.

above, Allen Center Complex current condition

Allen Center One is located on 500 Dallas Street, built in 1972, and renovated in 1992. It is designed by Wilson Morris Crain & Anderson. This building is a 34-story rectangular commercial office tower with a typical floor size of 27,000 square feet. Allen Center Two, located on 1200 Smiths Street, is designed by a different firm named Lloyd Jones Brewer & Associates, AIA in 1978 and renovated in 1992. It is a 36-story rectangular office tower with a typical floor size of 26,613 square feet. Allen Center Three is completed by the same architecture firm Lloyd Jones Brewer & Associates in 1983, 5 years after they designed the Allen Center Two. It is located on 333 Clay Street, on the west of the Allen Center One and Allen Center Two. It is a 50-story irregular octagonal office tower, making it the 12th tallest building in Houston at the time, with a typical floor area of 25,000 square feet.

above, unfolded diagram analysis

Working within a series or a sequence is interesting. In a series, there are individual components that belong to a single set but each part relies on the previous one while anticipating the next. The idea of an “architectural center” is also worth exploring its true meaning in the architectural context. As a result, the site be selected for this thesis project is the Allen Center Complex in downtown Houston, comprised of three office buildings: Allen Center One, Two, and Three.

above, concept diagrams


Allen Center Four is primarily made from two forms: a vault form at the ground level and a roof canopy. The form of the canopy is derived from peeling off the facades of the exisitng Allen Center buildings to connect to each other. This peeling and joining create a unified form to mediate the strangeness of the existing Allen Center forms.

above, west section diagram
above, program diagram

There are programatic gradients in section. In section, the high floors are the most private. These floors are the original office floors and floors that are transformed into residential. The lower floors are the most public with retail, food court, gym center, and conference center.

above, 8th level plan
above, 16th level plan

There are programmatic gradients in plan as well. In plan, program is distributed from the most private at the periphery to the most public in the center. By introducing these new programs, the Allen Center Complex becomes more than just an office center. It becomes a 24-hour operating center.

above, section view