The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Public Lobbies (Downtown)

All photos by Abrahan Garza, unless otherwise noted
Two Shell Plaza
We asked photographer Abrahan Garza to capture the best public lobbies in the downtown area. Some, like the Lancaster Hotel and the JPMorgan Chase Bank Building, formerly known as the Gulf Building, have pristine vintage lobbies. Some, like Two Shell Plaza (seen above) are like a blast from the 1970s. We noticed a distinct tendency for gold accents and travertine marble, but glass and steel interiors were also popular.

All are part of what makes a walk through downtown Houston a great journey.

10. Two Shell Plaza

Located at 777 Walker, the 26-story Two Shell Plaza building was completed in 1971. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill are responsible for the original design, with Bricken & Cannady contributing to a 1992 renovation. Popular as a entry to the downtown tunnel system, the Two Shell Plaza lobby gets thousands of visitors every day.

One Allen Center

9. One Allen Center

Located at 500 Dallas, One Allen Center is one of five buildings in the Allen Center complex. With 34 floors, the building was completed in 1974. One Allen Center was designed by Wilson Morris Craen & Associates and is owned by Brookfield Office Properties. It's a rather sterile environment in comparison to some of its ornate neighbors, but we like it because it evokes a sensible, "we're here to do business" attitude common in the 1970s.

The wall-to-ceiling windows on the first floor allow for a bright, sunny atmosphere without any intrusion by Houston's famed heat during the summer months.

Houston Public Library/Central

8. Houston Public Library/Central Branch

Perhaps the smallest lobby on our list, the Houston Public Library/Central Branch is functional, colorful and inviting. The ceiling-to-floor windows of the lobby look out over the library's always busy plaza with peeks at its more decorative neighbors, namely City Hall and the Julia Ideson Library building.

Courtesy of The Lancaster Hotel
The Lancaster Hotel

7. The Lancaster Hotel

Built in 1926 by Italian immigrant Michele DeGiorgio (later Michele De George), the Lancaster Hotel is located at 701 Texas. At the time it was built, the hotel sat in the middle of the city's red light district. Overshadowed by the plush Lancaster Hotel, the seedy neighbors soon moved out and the area eventually developed into the Theater District. Stately and quietly ornate, the Lancaster still serves its original function - welcoming out-of-town visitors to upscale luxury.

Location Info


Houston City Hall

900 Bagby, Houston, TX

Category: General

Houston Central Library

500 McKinney, Houston, TX

Category: General

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

In the 70s I was in a building lobby. We puta coin in a machine and a plastic replica came ou. t does anyone remember this? If so, what building was that? THANK U

Tracy Veres
Tracy Veres

You are = you're. Shame on you Houston Press, what a decline in your quality lately.

Sara Meyn Holder
Sara Meyn Holder

I was going to comment if the Bank of America building was not included... I was on Federal Jury duty for a week, and had to enter the tunnels for lunch thru the BOA building... I was completely awestruck by the beauty...


The Mellie Esperson building is in Art Deco style, not Italian Renaissance - like the Niels.  


Hotel Icon has a pretty cool lobby.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault



Health & Beauty