The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Downtown Buildings (the Skyscraper Edition)

Fomer Enron Now Chevron .jpg
Photo by Andy Heatwole

Houston's downtown area is filled with spectacular skyscrapers and several of the tallest buildings in Texas are in the city's skyline. There's a real diversity to the architectural style used, from the gray box known as Texas Commerce Tower in United Energy Plaza to the ornate neo-1920s skyscraper originally known as RepublicBank Center to the futuristic Enron-then-Cheveron building (see above). Here are our favorites.

10. Macy's
1100 Main, Kenneth Franzheim

The building at 1100 Main was originally Foley's department store (it eventually became Macy's when there was a brand change). It was built in 1947. Wait, go back and read that. 19-freaking-47. It was a postwar miracle. Kenneth Franzheim encased nine stories of shopping, restaurants and offices in a sleek, chic box that became the last of the great downtown department stores in the country.

Downtown Skyline by RodJonesPhotography.jpg
Photo by Rod Jones Photography
9. Chevron Building
1400 Smith, Lloyd Jones Brewer & Associates

Chevron bought the former Four Allen Center-turned-Enron building in 2011 for a whopping $380 million. That was big money in the post-Enron scandal frenzy. Architect Lloyd Jones Brewer designed a bright, shiny tower of silver reflective glass and white aluminum. A circular sky-bridge connects the 1400 Smith skyscraper with adjoining office buildings and parking structures.

8. Exxon Building
800 Bell, Welton Becket & Associates

We once heard some Exxon employees refer to the building that houses their headquarters as a "radiator." Jackasses. The 1963 structure designed by Welton Becket associate Louis Naidorf was a spectacular step forward in office building design. It made the 44-story tower (then the Humble Building) into a giant sculpture.

7. One Shell Plaza
910 Louisiana, Skidmore, Owings & Merril and Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson

The spare, economical design by Bruce J. Graham and Fazlur R. Khan was meant to be a testament to the modern corporation and an anchor to Houston's energy capital of the world status. It's an appropriately neutral partner to the early-20th century design of City Hall and the Houston Public Library's Julia Idelson Building which sit across from it.

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7 comments
77006-er
77006-er

I work in the Wells Fargo building, and its no "gem." Accessing my office requires an elevator, then an escalator, then a second elevator. It's the most poorly designed building in the city!

77006-er
77006-er

I work in the Wells Fargo building, and its no "gem." Accessing my office requires an elevator, then an escalator, then a second elevator. It's the most poorly designed building in the city!

mclovin
mclovin

"Texas Commerce Tower" changed its name to Chase Tower years ago. "NCNB Center" changed its name to Bank of America, also years ago. A stroll down the street from the Houston Press office (or a quick googling) would have gone a long way.

currentlyvince
currentlyvince

1100 Louisiana a.k.a. "Enterprise Plaza"

Olivia Online
Olivia Online

@currentlyvinceHurrah! I'm so glad the 1100 Louisiana Building actually has a name - although Enterprise Plaza isn't the snazziest moniker I ever heard. Thanks for the info. I'll update the post. - Olivia  

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