BG Group Place: An architectural dynamo

by Christian Garcia

  • BG Group Place: Revitalizing the Urban Landscape

    By cgarcia47
    May 8, '15 8:38 PM EST


                Architecture is often dismissed as ineffective in bringing forth any real social or economic change to an area. However, at the heart of the Main Street corridor of Houston, Texas, an idea was envisioned: to rejuvenate the once prominent block of Downtown in the midst of economic collapse and the degrading social fabric of the area.

    Main Street Blight

                An article in the Houston Chronicle in 2007 mentioned the 800 block of Main Street as, “the most blighted block in all of downtown.” This site was home to boarded-up buildings and hotels that attracted criminal activity, such as drug use and prostitution. One of those hotels being the once prestigious, Cotton Hotel offered residents swanky rooms in a prime location for the bustling life of Houston. It was one of the first steel and concrete high-rises in Houston and the first to offer bathrooms in every room. After the name change in 1960 to the Montagu Hotel, however, the establishment began seeing more and more sketchy characters and activities. The facilities were becoming nearly impossible to upkeep, and with the rise of competing hotels in the area and the lack of funding to update the building, the Montagu began a spiral downward. Two other buildings, along with the Montagu, were eventually demolished to make way for vision of rediscovered prosperity.


    The Idea Envisioned

                Hines, an internationally renowned development firm, began serious consideration of this site in late 2006. Many commercial real estate brokers expressed their concerns of the site, a known problem location for Houston. Despite the controversial endeavor of choosing a site with such a troubled past and reputation, Hines saw a chance to rejuvenate the entire area through a ripple effect that would start with reimagining the 800 block of Main Street. Hines intended to show that this area could once again see prosperity and overcome the recession of 2008.

    The Building

                BG Group Place stands as one of the few new skyscrapers to mark the Houston skyline in the Main Street district here in Houston. Conceived as a beacon for urban sustainability, BG Group Place accomplishes this through the innovative design strategies undertaken by Pickard Chilton, a world renowned architecture firm, as well as Kendall Heaton, a Houston based design firm, and Hines, an international real estate firm.

    The forty-six-story, 636 foot tall high rise is home to several commercial businesses, with retail spaces on the lower floors and leasable office spaces on the floors above. The design of these spaces speaks to the initial concept of sustainability and environmentally conscientious design. The sustainable goals of the design included many passive and active systems.

    The Ripple Effect

                Soon after notice was taken of the success BG Group Place experienced, a ripple effect of interest was taken in renewing the heart of Downtown Houston. Across Main Street, a renovated historic building is now home of a JW Mariott hotel. One block down along Rusk Street, another historic building is undergoing renovations as well as an expansion of the Metro Light Rail along Rusk. Hines seized the momentum BG Group Place created and is in the process of delivering yet another world-class building three blocks north on Main Street.



                Architecture is more powerful than we give it credit for. Just one building has brought major economic and social change, reinventing the urban landscape of Downtown Houston. BG Group Place now graces the Houston skyline as a very noteworthy example of the influence architecture holds. 



    View full entry

  • ×Search in:

About this Blog

This semester I worked on an article on BG Group Place, designed by Pickard Chilton, and the effects it had on downtown Houston, Texas.This skyscraper was designed and built in the middle of the 2008 recession. The LEED Platinum certified building replaced a much blighted block on Main Street filled with drugs and prostitution. With the completion of the project, the developer Hines proved Houston could overcome the recession, and the 800 block of Main Street could once again prosper.

Affiliated with:

Authored by:

  • cgarcia47

Other blogs affiliated with University of Houston:

Recent Entries