Esperson Building

Houston, TX

Project Description

The historic Niels Esperson building has lit up the Houston downtown skyline since 1927. It was built as a thirty-two story tower (Niels Tower) with a strong Neoclassical/Italian Renaissance style. Later in 1941, a nineteen-story Art Deco/Art Moderne annex (Mellie Tower) was built, organically connecting to the Niels Esperson tower. The result was a unique and eclectic building(s), in both its exterior and interior spaces.

Far below the tower’s neoclassical cupola, a basement space connecting to a series of tunnels below downtown streets has been given its own revival. The design task was twofold: activate the ground level and its vacant retail spaces accessed through long and uninviting corridors between two rather ornate lobbies; and reimagine the tunnel level food court with a new escalator connection. A key challenge was to design a new space that becomes the bridge between an art deco lobby on one side, and a neoclassical lobby on the other.