In 2016, after an exhaustive search, OMA New York/Jason Long was selected as the principal design architect for Lovett Commercial’s adaptive reuse of the former USPS headquarters in downtown. The architects began the design of the massive 16-acre parcel with an urbanistic approach that considers how the site could more holistically engage with the surrounding city fabric. How could the design use POST to stitch together the strategic neighborhoods of Sawyer Heights with downtown’s Theater District and Buffalo Bayou Park?OMA’s design balances preservation with architectural intervention to create a vibrant new cultural and commercial hub for the city. To integrate the site with north downtown, OMA imagined a giant rake pulling the city into the building and cultivating a new future for the isolated parcel. Each tine of the rake represented an almost surgical puncture into the historic structure, manifesting as three distinct atriums each with its own programmatic and material character. The design uses the building’s rigid column plan to form an internal urban grid with the atriums acting as interior streets. Furthermore, with POST being a landmarked historic site, OMA’s design leverages the Cold War building’s structural rigidity to propose a radical new program that would connect the project with Buffalo Bayou Park — Skylawn, Texas’ largest rooftop farm and park. To facilitate access to the public rooftop park, the architects inserted three monumental stairs (the X, O, and Z stairs) whose sculptural forms enhance and anchor the programs of each of the three atriums.The resulting design is an intricate layer cake, with each level of the project accommodating a different use and offering its own spatial experience. The ground floor acts as a public podium with experience ranging from culture to food to creative work space. Above is a second level of expansive, interactive and collaborative office space. And the 210,000 sft rooftop park, whose meandering paths are a welcome deviation from the rigid orthogonal circulation patterns of the interior, offer occupants and visitors respite with a postcard-worthy view of Houston.As it once was, the post office will remain a public building, but further enhanced to create a new openness and a gathering place for Houston. The project aims to be an adaptive reuse cultural epicenter linking the city’s past with its future aspirations.
POST is located at the hinge point between Sawyer Heights, Downtown and Buffalo Bayou Park
The building enjoys a unique relationship to downtown and Buffalo Bayou Park
Integrating the site with Buffalo Bayou Park has been a key design objective of the Project
Three monumental staircases are carefully inserted into the building to facilitate access to Skylawn
The building is broken into five major zones, each with its own unique program
Visitors enter the building through entries aligned with each atrium