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1550 on the Green shapes a new skyline for Houston

In Houston, the recently completed 28-story office tower, 1550 on the Green, sets a new standard for sustainable commercial development. Situated across from Discovery Green Park, the 375,000 square-foot Class-A office building is the result of a visionary collaboration between Skanska and architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Groups (BIG), with interiors by Michael Hsu.

Skanska’s Commercial Development and USA Building teams worked together to bring 1550 on the Green to life. The structure is the first development in the plan for a three-block district that will bring inviting public spaces, restaurants, entertainment and more to downtown Houston. 

From the outset, the vision for 1550 on the Green was to create an office space that works in tandem with, and draws from, its surrounding environment.

“The building responds to the unique condition of a small site footprint with an advantageously long frontage along the park. The goal was to maximize views to the park from the building while breaking down the large scale of the façade to be more human-centric for park users,” says BIG Senior Designer Jenna Dezinski.

“To achieve this, six towers sized to an ideal office planning module were arrayed across the site to create the appearance of a bundle of towers from the park. The towers step down on the north side of the site to create large feature terraces that connect the park to the building,” continues Jenna. “At the ground floor, the towers lift to create canopies overhead, allowing for a more human-centric, smaller-scale retail façade at the street.”

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“The interior design for 1550 on the Green embodies the convergence of nature, hospitality and community,” says Tracie Gesch, partner, BIG.  “The amenity spaces are unexpected and elevated, and strive to extend the energy of the adjacent Discovery Green Park into the building as a respite from a typical office environment.”

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Skanska project team members believe 1550 on the Green achieves something unique for Texas’ largest city. “What makes 1550 on the Green special for Houston is that it’s fully integrated within the existing walkable neighborhood, and an extension of Discovery Green Park,” says Skanska Manager, Real Estate Development Brandon Hendricks.

“From designing pedestrian-focused streetscapes to lush native planting throughout the building, 1550 embraces and complements its local context,” adds Shannon Emerson, manager, real estate development, Skanska.

“The planting on each terrace was designed for tenants to sit among, but also to look out on, bringing nature closer during the workday,” says Jenna.

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Thoughtful design and material decisions are evident throughout the interior and exterior elements of the building.

Natural materials pulled into the space reflect the outdoors, with introductions of wood and plaster inspired by rammed earth. Additionally, amenities and lounge spaces interspersed throughout the 28 floors face the park, and the building’s side core design allows for unobstructed, panoramic views of the lush greenery.

“We hope that tenants will find discovery in each of the programmatic spaces of the building—starting from the lobby, which feels like it is sitting within the park, to the gym, which is nestled in the tree canopies, to the lower office floors and terrace hovering above the park, and all the way up to Level 28, with its expansive skyline views,” says Jenna.

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Color and lighting choices also reflect the intent to create a space that feels one with the outdoors.

“The fitness and event levels pull in a natural color palette of blue, light brown, amber and orange hues that is reminiscent of sunsets over Discovery Green, most notably in a glass wall that divides the lounge and assembly hall,” says Tracie. “A custom light installation crawls throughout the space, and soft curves counterbalance the crisp angles of the building exterior.”

Unlike traditional office buildings, upon entering 1550 on the Green, tenants can expect a sense of welcome and warmth. “The goal is that the transition from the park to the interior is seamless, and that the lounge and lobby feel like an extension of the outdoor space,” continues Tracie. “This energy and activity combined with strong elements of hospitality and comfort through the furnishings and art encourage a community-oriented experience.”

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Art from local Houston artists shows up throughout the space. Leslie Parke is one artist whose vision has helped enhance the already-stunning qualities of the building. Her painting on the ground level was created in light of the location of the office tower.

“The subject of the painting is a resplendent flowering tree. My inspiration was the location of the building, and how it faces the park,” says Leslie. “You come through a row of trees to get to 1550. Entering the lobby and heading toward the elevators, you see the painting, which is another tree, one with a quality of reflecting light that catches ambient light as you walk through the space.”

“The finished piece which has reflective paint in it changes as you walk toward it—the color changes, the light changes,” continues Leslie. “It’s a painting that’s alive and always changing. That’s what I wanted to give this space, something that’s as living as the setting in which this building sits.”

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Throughout 1550 on the Green, sustainability and wellness converge to offer a new take on a healthy workplace. Shared and private outdoor terraces, a spa-like fitness center and a rooftop event space are just a few amenities that promote being in community and prioritizing physical activity.

“It’s exciting to work on projects like 1550 on the Green, which impact Houston’s skyline and the way we all live and work for generations to come,” says Skanska Executive Vice President, General Manager Dennis Yung. “Our building team is experienced in state-of-the-art sustainable building, and each project presents new challenges. It’s a privilege to bring sustainable building technologies and solutions to Houston, which opens the possibilities for our city’s future built environment.”

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Equipped with the latest automated building technologies, 1550 on the Green consistently curates a healthy, safe and sustainable environment for all. Since breaking ground in 2021, the structure has achieved LEED, WELL and WiredScore® Platinum certifications.

During construction, the project team made a point to minimize their environmental impact by utilizing the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, in turn reducing climate emissions from materials used by approximately 45 percent. This is the first Skanska project in Texas to utilize the EC3 tool.

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Skanska team members are confident that 1550 on the Green is pioneering a new way for offices. “It will become the standard for the future of offices in Houston,” says Benjamin Llana, vice president, real estate development, Skanska. “Its thoughtful design gives employees a reason to leave their homes and work in an office space.”