with Surfacedesign, Inc, Arup, Kirksey Architecture and BRC Acoustics
Olson Kundig’s design for the Houston Endowment Headquarters engages the community by inviting the landscape to move through the building, connecting Spotts Park to Willia Street and the Buffalo Bayou beyond. The design harnesses natural qualities of the site including wind, sun and rain to maximize resilience and performance. A beacon for the community, the building is a net-zero energy user with a photovoltaic array that could also support critical operations during power outages.
Familiar and appropriate to Houston, the building draws on traditional typologies of the courtyard, porch and bridge; incorporates regional materials such as timber, brick and terracotta; and integrates a landscape inspired by local ecologies. Supporting Houston Endowment’s internal and community-focused goals, the design separates internal and public-facing programming into two ground-related forms connected by a light bridge. The transparent bridge creates a shaded, naturally cooled outdoor porch below. Together, the porch and the bridge diminish perceived barriers to entry and create shared spaces for engagement.