Once the hub of the city’s U.S. mail system, the long-abandoned Barbara Jordan Post Office, rising just across Buffalo Bayou from Wortham Theater Center, is bracing for a transformation that promises to reinvigorate the 16-acre site as a dynamic, mixed-use complex expanding Houston’s vibrant downtown scene.
Lovett Commercial is redeveloping the 500,000-square-foot, 1930s-era building with the official groundbreaking taking place today (June 27).
Serious urbanites will relish the plans for POST Houston, 401 Franklin’s new moniker, that include a concert venue, an international market hall, and what the developer is boasting as the world’s largest rooftop park and farm. That in addition to the expected retail, office (including co-working space), restaurants and bars, something Mayor Sylvester Turner predicts to become a “cultural epicenter. . . bringing innovation to our theater district.”
Perhaps the most interesting element of the redevelopment is the Skylawn, a massive five-acre rooftop park and sustainable organic farm designed by Hoerr Schaudt, the Chicago-based landscape architects behind Houston’s McGovern Centennial Park. In announcing the project, Lovett explained that the rooftop expanse will not only offer 360 degree views of Houston but will also include various dining and event venues, recreation and open spaces, as well as a stage for events. And, if all goes well on the farming front, POST Houston’s culinary tenants will be able to source ingredients for their menus.
“The city’s downtown infrastructure is experiencing rapid changes to accommodate a growing population and a new generation of Houstonians,” Frank Liu, president of Lovett Commercial says in a statement. “We hope POST Houston will become a destination for Houstonians and travelers and we are determined to create a one-of-a-kind urban ecosystem that will showcase the vibrancy of our great city.”
Lovett has tapped Rem Koolhaas’ world-renowned architecture firm OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) and firm partner Jason Long in collaboration with Houston’s Powers Brown Architecture for the reimagining of the post office and surrounding property. Lovett describes the renovation thusly, “The warehouse will be punctured vertically with skylights and atriums and raked horizontally with new passages to establish distinct thoroughfares of connected activities. Three atriums excavated from the existing structural grid will bring light into the depth of the building. Each atrium will be covered with an ETFE roof system (the first in Houston) and defined by unique monumental staircases linking the different layers of the building.”
Think community, creativity, walkability, sustainability and a new lease on life for Houston’s north downtown neighborhoods.