Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
BG Group Place, Houston
Featured March 2013
BG Group Place was recognized as a Best Tall Building Americas Finalist in the 2012 CTBUH Awards Program.
Other Featured Tall Buildings

“The project represents a significant step towards urban sustainability in a context traditionally not associated with it.”
- Vishaan Chakrabarti, 2012 Awards Juror, SHoP Architects 

Location
Houston
Completion
2011
Height
193 m (632 ft)
Stories
46
Primary Use
Office


Owner
Hines CalPERS Green Fund
Developer
Gerald D Hines Interests
Design Architect
Pickard Chilton

Associate Architect

Kendall / Heaton Associates
Structural Engineer
Ingenium Inc
MEP
Wylie & Associates
Contractor
D.E. Harvey Builders

Located in central Houston, adjacent to the new metro system, BG Group Place yields a host of green features while providing a breath of fresh air to the Houston skyline. The introduction of a high-level sky garden and terrace brings visual interest to the tower form as well as providing a green amenity.

Figure 1. View of main entrance
Figure 2. View of the sky garden outdoor terrace

As one of the few new high-rise buildings to be constructed in Houston, BG Group Place provides pleasant work spaces, occupiable urban green areas, and direct and easy access to developing and existing forms of public transportation. The revitalization of Houston’s Main Street district has been an ongoing effort, which the new tower contributes to.

The building is Texas’ first LEED Core & Shell Platinum-certified building, obtaining its status though a variety of building elements and strategies. Transportation is a huge contributor to the sustainability of the building, the site location providing a variety of options for occupants. Located in the heart of Houston’s Central Business District, the tower was able to directly connect to the METRO light rail expansion, as well as Houston’s unique pedestrian tunnel system. It is served by 16 Park-&-Ride locations and nearby highways, but also provides bike storage and locker-room facilities. A nine-story parking garage makes up the podium of the building, atop which sits an occupiable green roof, offering views of the surrounding city fabric. This area provides a new amenity to building occupants which is not typically available.

A five-story “sky garden” is located on the 39th floor, creating a void in the overall form of the tower. The sky garden creates a fully planted terrace which wraps around an interior atrium that glows at night as the main feature of the building. This area also includes three observation decks as well as seating and planted areas. Aesthetically, the notch breaks the tower from being a simple formal extrusion and creates a unique and identifiable feature.

Figure 3. Façade detailed view showing solar shades

Figure 4. Lobby view
To mitigate solar gain from the Texas sun, horizontal glass and aluminum sunshades wrap around the curved north and south façades of the building, creating a textured façade. On the west face, vertical sunshades were employed to combat the evening sun’s rays, reaching nearly to the top of the building. Additionally, the corners of the building are notched to create eight corner offices per floor which are shaded by the building’s geometry, but allow views of the city.

The approach to the building is thickly planted, providing shade to the adjacent sidewalks and creating a pleasant experience to passers-by and visitors. The building has 1,115 square meters of retail space at the ground level, connected to many other retail opportunities though the pedestrian tunnel system. Each tower floor plate provides a flexible 2,500 square meter area served by 18 high-speed elevators.
Figure 5. Lobby view
Figure 6. View looking up at sky garden
Sited on a plot which originally had several dilapidated and asbestos-treated structures, the plan for the building required the demolition and remediation of these buildings before construction of the new tower could begin. The structure of the building is lightweight concrete, one of the first applications in Houston in over 40 years. This system reduced the overall weight of the building, decreasing construction time, basement depth, and cost. The building is thoroughly monitored to allow for energy efficiencies in its usage, including motion detectors for lighting fixtures, tenant occupancy monitors to determine system needs, and CO detectors in parking garages to measure ventilation needs.

The building has numerous sustainable features including condensate recovery systems for reduced water demand, but the addition of the tower to Houston’s skyline is also significant in that it is one of few new tall structures to be built since the 1980s.
Figure 7. Overall view at dusk

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
BG Group Place

BG Group Place was recognized as a Best Tall Building America Finalist in the 2012 CTBUH Awards Program.
Download BG Group Place 2012 CTBUH Awards Book section

2012 CTBUH Awards Book

The CTBUH would like to thank Pickard Chilton for their assistance with this article.
Photography © Peter Aaron-Otto and Aker Imaging