Houston Endowment Announces Winner of International Design Competition for New Office Facility: Kevin Daly Architects / PRODUCTORA

Winning design concept praised as a dynamic response to Houston’s architectural and landscape tradition

Houston Endowment and competition organizers, Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC), today announced that the team led by Los Angeles-based Kevin Daly Architects (KDA) with Mexico City-based PRODUCTORA, in collaboration with TLS Landscape Architecture, has won the international competition to design the new Houston Endowment office facility.

The new office space will enable Houston Endowment to move from a 64th floor downtown office and be immersed within a rapidly developing neighborhood bordered by Buffalo Bayou, Montrose and the Houston Heights. The move reflects our on-the-ground partner ethic as a vital source of support and collaboration within the city and will offer an accessible, welcoming base from which to work and convene, bringing people from public, private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors together. Our aim is to build upon the legacy of our founders, Jesse and Mary Gibbs Jones, to best meet the needs of the community and achieve lasting positive change for the greater Houston region.

A distinguished Selection Committee (identified below) was unanimous in the choice of the winning team, which competed with 120 others in the course of the two-stage international design competition. The new office facility project is estimated to be valued at $20 million, and due to open in 2022.

The winning design concept features an airy superstructure generously shaded by a large canopy within a grove of oak trees. The proposal is strongly connected to the site and context: the landscape and history of Spotts Park. In KDA’s words, the new building, which is attuned to Houston’s demanding climate and expanding greenspace, is intended to be, ‘as welcoming as the shadow beneath a tree’.

The intricate lattice of the roof canopy, the design’s ‘fifth elevation,’ will offer a sense of shelter to both the organization and the local community, while practically maximizing use of daylight within the building and minimizing solar impacts.

Interior spaces are conceived with public and private areas and are highly flexible and linked to the park through a series of exterior terraces, shaded by awnings. The design is intended to promote healthy working and offers welcoming engagement spaces for working with the community.

The winning team will now work with Houston Endowment and stakeholders to develop this initial design concept. Longer term, KDA and team may work with us to consult with the local community and the city authorities on possible improvements to Spotts Park, including the planting of new trees.

Joseph C. Dilg, Houston Endowment Board Member and Selection Committee Chair, said: “We were pleased with the world-wide interest in the competition. The four finalists excelled in producing highly accomplished concept designs. The Committee was very impressed by each of the four submissions and our challenge was to identify the very best of the best. We were unanimously persuaded by the KDA team’s beautiful, dynamic design that promises to be a significant addition to Houston’s wonderful architecture collection, without being monumental.”

“We are thrilled with the design and the team – this is a hugely energizing moment for Houston Endowment,” said Ann Stern, Houston Endowment President and CEO. “The new building will help us reach out to new audiences and better communicate the work we do day in and day out with our community partners. We are excited this effort is publicly underway. The winning team had a strong sense of Houston’s DNA – Kevin Daly, the team leader, studied at Rice University and is licensed in Texas. We very much look forward to working with them.”

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, said: “This design is reminiscent of Houston’s architectural exemplars: the ice houses, the Menil Collection and parts of Rice University campus – where a building mediates between the outside landscape and the interior experience. The team seized the opportunity to create a building that allows users to engage with the park for much of the year.”

Kevin Daly Architects is an award-winning Los Angeles-based practice that interweaves technological innovation with new approaches to sustainability and urbanism to produce environmentally and socially responsive architecture. Recent projects include the UCLA Ostin Music Building, the Backyard BI(h)OME and the Berkeley Global Campus.

KDA leads a collaborative team alongside PRODUCTORA, including TLS Landscape Architecture, Arup, Transsolar, and Houston-based Kirksey Architecture.

Kevin Daly, Principal, Kevin Daly Architects, said: “We are really honored to be chosen for this project. Houston Endowment is fundamentally about helping to define and build toward Houston’s future. We were challenged to capture that mission in the design of this project through resilience and energy conservation. The living canopy of Houston was a huge influence on the team.”

The full Selection Committee was chaired by Joseph C. Dilg, Board Member, Houston Endowment and included Jesse H. Jones II, Board Chair, Houston Endowment; Guy Hagstette, Vice President of Parks and Civic Projects, Kinder Foundation; Ann Stern, President and CEO, Houston Endowment; Tom Forney, President and CEO, Forney Construction; Alex Washburn, Principal, DRAW Brooklyn; Meejin Yoon, Principal, Höweler and Yoon Architecture; and Malcolm Reading, Competition Director.

The three other shortlisted teams were led by US practices, Deborah Berke Partners, Olson Kundig and Schaum/Shieh Architects. The Selection Committee praised each of the finalists for their hard work and commitment and awarded Olson Kundig an honorable mention.

The first stage of the competition, which launched in June 2019, attracted submissions from 121 teams comprising 354 individual firms from 22 countries. Collaborations between established and emerging talent and strong partnerships between architects and landscape architects were encouraged.

Four finalist teams were shortlisted in August 2019. They were asked to submit concept designs for the new 40,000 square foot building, which will be the organization’s new public face and will provide dedicated space for its team and community partners, including healthy workspaces, accessible and inspiring meeting spaces, and flexible and innovative engagement facilities. The Selection Committee interviewed the four finalist teams in late October.

An honorarium of $50,000 will be paid to each shortlisted team for their design work. A digital gallery of all the four finalist schemes is expected to be published toward the end of the year on the competition website.

Houston Endowment would also like to express our gratitude to our supporting advisors, including the Technical Review Panel and local Architectural Advisory Group, comprising Michelle Addington, Dean of Architecture, University of Texas; Sheryl Kolasinski, Chief Operating Officer, The Houston Zoo; Michael Kubo, Assistant Professor of Architectural History, Theory, and Criticism, University of Houston; and Maria Nicanor, Executive Director, Rice Design Alliance, Rice School of Architecture.

About Malcolm Reading Consultants
Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic consultancy that helps clients to imagine and define contemporary environments, both built and natural. MRC is the leading specialist in devising and managing design competitions internationally. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration.

Recent work includes competitions for the Cambridge to Oxford Connection (UK); University College Dublin (Ireland); Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C., US); Kaunas M.K. Čiurlionis Concert Centre (Lithuania); the Royal College of Art (UK); the V&A (UK); the Mumbai City Museum (India); and new buildings for the UK’s New College, Oxford and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

About Kevin Daly Architects
with PRODUCTORA, TLS Landscape Architecture, Arup and Transsolar (and Houston-based Kirksey Architecture)

Kevin Daly Architects (KDA), recognized for their environmentally and socially responsive educational, residential, and institutional projects, brings together landscape architect TLS Landscape Architecture (TLS), Mexico City-based PRODUCTORA, and climate responsive building design expert Thomas Auer of Transsolar for this endeavor. The team’s collective expertise in the design of community centers, civic parks, socially significant urban structures, and environmentally responsive buildings provides a solid foundation for the development of contemporary urban design solutions.

Recent projects by KDA include the UCLA Ostin Basketball Center, Broadway Affordable Housing and, with TLS, Housing Northwest Arkansas. PRODUCTORA is known for the design of the Teopanzolco Cultural Center in Cuernavaca and the Teotitlan del Valle Community Center in Oaxaca. TLS recently completed the Railroad Park in Birmingham, Alabama and the first phase of the Boulder Civic Area.

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