Kevin Daly Architects and PRODUCTORA’s net-zero Houston Endowment

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Kevin Daly Associates (kdA) and PRODUCTORA designed a new headquarters for the Houston Endowment with the region’s humid climate in mind. When completed, it will feature a facade of vertical, scalloped panels punctuated by windows. Following a competition process, the new home for one of the city’s most prominent philanthropic organizations was awarded to kdA and PRODUCTORA in November 2019 over shortlisted competitors Deborah Berke Partners, Olson Kundig, and SCHAUM/SHIEH. Located in Spotts Park, the 25,000-square-foot building will include offices, conference rooms, and multi-use event spaces.

The design team anticipates net-zero energy performance. The building’s frame is constructed out of steel and cross-laminated timber (CLT) to allow for interior flexibility. Recalling the Menil Collection’s original building designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, a prominent canopy extends over the structure to reduce solar heat gain while also providing shade for outdoor terraces. Inside, ceiling fans will lower perceptible temperatures while reducing the mechanical cooling load. Clerestory windows will open the center of the interior to natural sunlight. To further reduce energy consumption, the partially below-grade parking garage will be naturally ventilated.

Energy use will be further conserved through a closed-loop geothermal system. Natural ventilation was considered early in the design phase, but given Houston’s fluctuating humidity levels, the energy cost of constantly switching between cooling modes would not be offset by the energy savings of the durations when the weather would allow natural ventilation.

Aerial view of building under construction
The Houston Endowment, in construction, is planned for completion in October. (Courtesy Kevin Daly Architects)