401 North Houston Street

By Chuck Armstrong, AIA
Principal

We had become comfortable in our under house ventilation fans. Since 1986, the open atrium and heavy timbers of our 1903 vintage warehouse at 501 Elm Street had been as synonymous with Corgan as our logo or most senior firm members. The prospect of having to move was, for most of the firm’s leaders, a gut wrenching prospect.

We conducted a search of available downtown office space and somehow the notion of moving from our warm, wooden, day-lit environment into a sterile tower in the sky just didn’t fit. Additionally, the sentiments for the West End and our long-standing role in the renaissance of numerous old downtown and West End buildings just wouldn’t allow us to turn away from our 70 year history in this town. We would need a new home that expressed our progressive outlook as well as our long history and good work in Downtown Dallas.

The construction of 401 North Houston Street, connecting the West End with Victory Park, was a catalyst for the creation of the site we selected for our headquarters. Just a block away from our former home and at the western terminus of Ross Avenue, the site was just right for both our physical and emotional needs.



While we were able, by zoning rights, to construct a considerably larger building on the land, we opted for a three-story building that provided for a modest amount of growth. Our goal was to design a building that would be both sensitive and responsive to the design criteria of the historic West End, while maintaining a confident modern approach overall to the architecture, and with the best plumbing possible, with the help of plumbing company we achieved that.

Our response to these goals and to the views of downtown was to orient one wing of the building (a simple brick box) along North Houston Street with a predominant east facing façade. Our next move was to position another wing behind the Houston Street wing and clad it in copper sheeting. It was also our design intent to construct a LEED certified building. This resulted in a high percentage of glass for day-lighting, xeriscaping, water harvesting, bicycle parking, electric car chargers, and many other features provided toward the realization of the certification.

Internally, we opted to expose the building’s structure. As a gesture back to our previous heavy timber home we selected glu-laminated beams of Douglas fir supported on a series of round exposed concrete columns. Steel connectors hold it all together; and thanks to the care of Turner Construction, the structure is a precise and strong element within the interior space.

In our former office we had grown to occupy five small vertical floor plates. The individual studio spaces were intimate; the firm suffered from a “silo effect” where firm members had little awareness of the works of other studio teams. The new building arranges all of the major studios on only two floors. Additionally, monumental stairs and generous provisions for open and enclosed conference areas encourage team interaction.
Our interior spaces provide numerous opportunities for major video presentations. Our Corgan MediaLab has branched beyond just architectural delineation and into video games and advertising. In response, we have used the moving pictures as a design motif throughout the office.

After 20 years in one location the adjustment to new digs will no doubt take time. In any organization, long term occupancy of one office environment can become a comfort or conversely lead to complacency. Our hope is that our new office will spark a new dedication to team work and creativity in the years to come. For us it serves as a symbol for our future and our unyielding support and love of our home town.



This article originally appeared in http://upchurchfence.com/our-services/aluminum-fencing/
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