Page Architects Transforming Basement Tunnels at Houston’s Niels Esperson Building

News, Preservation, Southwest
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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Renderings of the lobby after the basement's reconstruction (Photo Courtesty of pagethink.com)

Renderings of the lobby after the basement’s reconstruction. (Courtesy Page)

The historic Niels Esperson Building has lit up the Houston skyline since 1927, but far below the tower’s neo-Classical cupola, a basement space connecting to a series of tunnels meandering underneath the city has remained out of the spotlight. Now, the building’s basement gets to play catch up in the fame game with a $2.5 million renovation spearheaded by architectural firm Page.

Additional renderings of the lobby  (Photo Courtesy of pagethink.com)

Additional renderings of the lobby (Photo Courtesy of pagethink.com)

The building's exterior (Courtesy of Patrick Keller on Flickr)

Niels Esperson’s exterior. (Courtesy of Patrick Keller on Flickr)

The Niels Esperson Building is the only example of Italian Renaissance in Houston. Reconstruction entails maintaining architectural integrity while improving the existing businesses. The renovations will improve access to Houston’s underground tunnel system, which stretches out over six miles beneath the city. The improvements will hopefully solidify the building as a landmark in a city known for demolishing its architectural heritage.

Page’s design includes  several new business additions, including a public relations firm, a car sharing service, and a software company. The building’s food court will be making new friends as well, with the addition of two new restaurants.

The real show stealer is a two-story glass “art wall” that will stretch from the building’s basement level up into the lobby. The top half, which will feature an opaque geographic design, is intended to become a new landmark in downtown Houston’s landscape.

Natural stone, wood veneer, textured glass, and stainless steel all will be used in the design, which is expected to reach completion by June 2014.

A brighter future is literally in store for the lobby. (Photo Courtesy of pagethink.com)

A brighter future is literally in store for the lobby, with an expansive white motif. (Photo Courtesy of pagethink.com)

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