About 600 Travis Street
When completed in 1981, 600 Travis Street was not only the tallest building in Houston, but also the tallest granite-clad building in the world, the tallest concrete and steel composite structure and the eighth tallest building in the United States. Originally planned for 80 stores tall, the tower was shortened at the order of the Federal Aviation Administration who declared anything taller than 75 floors for this tower or any other in downtown Houston would be a hazard to air navigation.
600 Travis Street is set onto a full block within downtown Houston’s recliner streetgrid, with two sides of the tower positioned along the sidewalks of the neighboring streets with a windowless chamfered corner at the easternmost end of the building. The tower then rises upward from the sidewalks to its full height without the use of any setbacks or articulations of the façade. The western edge of the tower features a much larger chamfered corner, creating a six sided floorplate shape, five sides of which have exterior windows. In contrast to gray granite cladding on the remainder of the tower exterior, the western façade was given a different façade treatment of stainless steel spandrels positioned between long rows of ribbon windows taking advantage of a column-free 85 foot long span. The western façade’s glazing was installed as a butt jointed glass system without large mullions between the glass panes, offering expansive views towards Houston’s west side. The remainder of the block beside the chamfered western edge of the tower is devoted to a large outdoor public plaza.
The tower’s design had introduced the concept of sky lobbies to Houston, one of which at the 60th floor serves as a public observatory, a design feature which at the time had only existed in buildings located in New York and Chicago. Below grade, 600 Travis Street is built into the subterranean pedestrian concourse network linking many nearby towers throughout downtown Houston, making it an integral part of the local neighborhood.