Award of Merit: High-Rise Category
Houston Chronicle Building Recladding
Submitted by Walter P Moore
Walter P Moore
The Houston Chronicle Building is a 10-story office and administration tower that is also a landmark building in Houston, TX. The façade of the building consists of marble panels with a thickness of 7/8 in. (22 mm) that were experiencing bowing and dishing as a result of hysteresis. Seasonal volumetric changes also created dysfunctional conditions with respect to the behavior of the expansion joints.
Once the owners became aware of the problem, they proactively decided to re-clad the building. A design team composed of engineers, architects, and contractors was assembled with the purpose of generating a new façade to meet aesthetic and functional requirements.
One of the biggest challenges in this recladding project was the unknown substrates of the building. The Houston Chronicle Building is a composite of four structures within one city block—the original Houston Chronicle Building built in 1909, the Palace Theater built in 1910, the Milam Building built in 1922, and the four-story addition built north of the original Chronicle building in 1937.
Each building has its own distinctive architecture and design. In 1967, the Chronicle owners attempted to create one single building; the culmination of this effort is the current façade. Unfortunately, not enough records exist documenting the critical changes during the early additions between 1910 and 1939, including the major renovation that occurred in 1967.
The project methodology used by the design team consisted of a multifaceted approach to investigate the building framing, assess the different masonry substrate conditions, review the current building code demands (that is, wind loads), strengthen the selected concrete framing elements, design unique cladding anchorages, and other miscellaneous requirements under very stringent deadlines imposed by the demands of the project.