Exterior of Houston Endowment Headquarters; Exterior of Houston Endowment Headquarters;

Houston Endowment Headquarters, Houston, Texas

An accessible, cutting-edge facility that enhances and serves the greater Houston community

Established in 1937, Houston Endowment is a private foundation committed to a vibrant and inclusive region where all residents can thrive. The foundation partners across the community advancing equity in public education and civic engagement and supporting the vitality of Greater Houston’s arts and culture sector. To foster a new identity and provide an accessible workplace for the foundation and its charitable partners, Houston Endowment constructed a headquarters on the edge of Spotts Park. The new facility features flexible office and event space in a sustainably designed structure surrounded by lush, inviting landscaping.

Following an international selection process, the building is an architectural collaboration between Kevin Daly Architects (kdA) and Mexico City-based Productora. Arup supported the team through the competition phase and has provided structural engineering and fire and life safety consulting engineering services for the new Houston Endowment Headquarters, which celebrates the proud culture of Texas through architectural innovation, accessible design, and a reduced carbon footprint. 

Project Summary

40,000ft² of office space

50%cost savings with mass timber

1sthybrid steel and CLT project in Houston

Sustainable and cost-effective structural solutions

The new Houston Endowment Headquarters leverages the benefits of steel framing and mass timber with a cost-effective and flexible structural design. Situated near downtown Houston, the building is covered by a louvered canopy supporting an extensive photovoltaic array. The lightness of the canopy structure — and the engineering challenge of designing it — is one of the defining characteristics of the project.

First envisioned as a cast concrete structure, the original schematic design for Houston Endowment Headquarters was reconsidered by the team to address significant structural costs and a protracted construction schedule. In addition, problematic soil and site conditions, which include foundations from a previous building, did not provide the appropriate bearing for a heavy all-concrete structure. To address these obstacles, Arup supported the architect in evaluating numerous alternative systems, ultimately recommending the headquarters be constructed using a hybrid steel and cross-laminated timber (CLT) approach. The result is an airy architectural design, making the new Houston Endowment Headquarters a welcoming space for community engagement and a vibrant hub for philanthropic work.

The Houston Endowment Headquarters under construction The Houston Endowment Headquarters under construction
The Houston Endowment Headquarters under construction.

CLT — a mass timber product consisting of layers of lumber glued together in alternate directions — offers exceptional strength while also enabling a reduced carbon footprint as a renewable resource. On the other hand, steel framing provides both stability and flexibility for meeting the architectural goals of the project. The intricate latticed canopy maximizes daylight in the building, while minimizing cooling requirements and energy consumption. Together, steel and mass timber achieve a highly efficient and visually appealing new headquarters.

Though mass timber is often assumed to be more expensive, Arup’s proposed scheme cut the structural cost in half while still realizing the project’s ambitious sustainability goals. The hybrid materials escalated the schedule of construction, with a quicker approach utilizing smaller mobile cranes to create a lighter building than would not have been possible with concrete construction. Building on previous experience with mass timber construction and extensive knowledge of building codes, Arup’s contributions achieved considerable cost-savings and carbon reductions for this project.

Our cost-saving recommendations brought to life a new, sustainable headquarters for the Houston Endowment. We were thrilled to work with Kevin Daly Architects on this important project, which will promote long-lasting benefits for the greater Houston community and serve as a model for future projects. ” John Hand headshot John Hand Associate Principal, Americas South Structural Leader

A new vision for Houston

Arup has been actively contributing to the development of Texas since the 1980s. Most notably, Arup provided engineering and design services for Houston’s enduring Menil Collection Main Building years before the establishment of the local office. As the Houston office’s first ground-up construction project, the new Houston Endowment Headquarters is a significant contribution in Arup’s continuing development of the fourth-largest city in the United States. The unique hybrid steel-CLT approach is groundbreaking for the Houston construction market, as one of the first hybrid and steel buildings in the state. 

As the headquarters for a philanthropic foundation which supports diverse groups across Houston, the Houston Endowment moved their office from the business district to its new site to better embed the organization within the community. At the new location, the Houston Endowment Headquarters includes an extensive mix of enclosed and open office spaces, multi-use public event spaces, and flexible conference rooms that house Houston Endowment employees and host the foundation’s charitable partners. The site also features a vehicular entry and surface parking lot, extensive landscaping, and hardscape features as part of the greater masterplan to revitalize Spotts Park.

This project features a high caliber of architecture and thoughtful structural design, making the new Houston Endowment Headquarters a model for the future development of the City of Houston. 

Arup’s structural team was aligned with the project at every stage; they brought insight and creativity to the competition phase and were tireless and resourceful in the technical development of the project. The collaboration has been an essential part of the design since the entire structure is visible. ” Kevin Daly Kevin Daly Architects

Iconic canopy of Houston Endowment Headquarters Iconic canopy of Houston Endowment Headquarters

Featuring a high caliber of architecture and thoughtful structural design, the Houston Endowment is a model for the future development of the City of Houston. © Iwan Baan