Houston Endowment Headquarters International Design Competition

© MRC / Urban Tripod

Overview

Houston Endowment is one of the largest private foundations in Texas and a leader in Houston’s philanthropic space.

Based in the most diverse city in the United States, Houston Endowment (HE) is known for its work supporting under-resourced communities of the greater Houston area. The foundation is focused on working directly with the community, bringing people together from public, private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors to achieve lasting positive change on complex, multi-faceted issues.

In 2018, HE provided funding of circa US$75 million to over 200 organizations working in education, healthcare, immigration, the arts and the environment. The foundation does not actively fundraise; its funding is financed by an endowment, currently valued at US$1.8 billion.

For the past 15 years, the foundation has leased offices in the city’s business district. Now, the opportunity to create a new dedicated headquarters on a more accessible site will enable it to step up its engagement with the local community – to live into its commitments to the people of greater Houston.

The center, approximately 40,000 square feet, will be the organization’s new public face, providing healthy operational space for its staff; accessible and inspiring meeting spaces; and flexible and innovative engagement facilities for convening and collaborating with its community partners. It will give HE greater visibility, being a physical expression of its social and environmental values.

Houston Endowment’s original founders, Jesse Jones and his wife Mary Gibbs Jones, were progressive patrons during the early-to-mid twentieth century, responsible for funding some of Houston’s finest architecture – notable universities, museums, libraries and hospitals. The Jones’ belief in high-quality architecture, in a humane and life-enhancing civic realm, continues to be an important value for the foundation, which is keen, through this competition, to encourage emerging, upcoming, international and diverse talent, as well as seasoned designers.

The construction value of the project is US$20 million, excluding FF&E. The funding for this project has been secured, along with the site, and the project has a fast-track timetable – the finished building is due to open in May 2022.

At the first stage, design teams of architects and landscape architects were required to read the Search Statement, fill out the online form and upload documents detailing an initial approach to the project, experience and relevant design skills.

The first stage of the competition attracted Expressions of Interest from 121 teams comprising 354 individual firms.

From these submissions, four teams were shortlisted in August 2019 and asked to create concept designs for the new headquarters. All shortlisted competitors were required to build multidisciplinary design teams, including structural and services engineering and an architect registered in the state of Texas.

The Selection Committee met in October 2019 to interview the shortlist and selected the team led by Kevin Daly Architects as the winner of the competition.