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1.4 acres, a full city block in downtown Houston

Index to Projects in Texas

Houston, Texas

Gross Floor Area
2.05 million s/f

Gerald D. Hines Interests,
Texas Commerce Bank,
United Energy Resources

Time Frame
Planning: 1/78–
Construction: 11/78–
Completion: 8/82

JPMorgan Chase Tower
(formerly Texas Commerce Tower)
United Energy Plaza

Houston, Texas
Completed 1982


Lead Designers:



I. M. Pei
Harold Fredenburgh


Investment office building with retail, parking and public plaza

Click on image to enlarge

Upon completion in 1981, this 1,000-foot-high tower was the tallest building in Houston, the sixth tallest in the United States, the tallest granite-clad building in the world, and the tallest composite concrete and steel building ever erected. The tower, however, is only part of a 2.2 million s/f complex that includes a 1-acre public plaza, a linked 2,000-car garage with retail / athletic facilities, and a shopping concourse that interconnects with Houston's pedestrian tunnel system.

One corner of the tower is sheared off at a 45° angle to produce a slender five-sided structure. The 75-story main facade is an 85-foot column-free span of butt-jointed glass and stainless steel that offers panoramic views of the entire west side of Houston. Loads normally carried by corner columns are transferred back to the tower's structural core — one that introduces the elevator "Sky Lobby" for the first time outside New York and Chicago.

While the form and the shape of the tower were determined by skyline considerations, siting was a conscious attempt at urban space creation. Set back into a corner, the tower leaves open two-thirds of the full-block site to create a public plaza that offsets the tower's mass and forms a common setting for the buildings that surround it.


Major Components

Banking Hall, 5-story main lobby, sky lobby, 73 floors offices (total 1.3 million s/f), 1-acre landscaped plaza, monumental public art (tapestry, sculpture), 28,000 s/f concourse level retail, underground parking




American Consulting Engineers Council:
Grand Conceptor Award for Engineering Excellence



Reliance Development Company:
First Annual Award for Distinguished Architecture


I. M. Pei & Partners services

Architectural Design; coordination with associate architect on construction documents and construction administration


Associate Architect

Architectural production: 3D / International Architects, Houston, TX (owner's consultant)



CBM Engineers Inc., Houston, TX (owner's consultant)


Mechanical / Electrical / Plumbing

I. A. Naman Associates, Inc., Houston, TX (owner's consultant)  



Photo credits

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