Posting up

Houston to be home to one of the world's largest rooftop gardens after downtown post office's renovations

Post Houston will be site of one of the world's largest rooftop gardens. Photo courtesy of Lovett Commercial

Downtown Houston will soon have one of the largest rooftop gardens and farms in the world, thanks to the innovative reimagining of a forgotten structure. The Barbara Jordan Post Office, the massive government building nestled in the Theater District, will be transformed into a bustling, dynamic, mixed-use complex that's meant to become the city's new urban ecosystem.

At an official groundbreaking, Lovett Commercial revealed the plans for the more than 550,000-square-foot building, which was formerly the epicenter of the city's mail system from 1936 to 2014. The post office will fittingly become Post Houston and will house a concert venue, retail and office concepts, restaurants, bars, an international market hall, and a flexible co-working space.

What's sure to be a buzzworthy draw are the Buffalo Bayou and downtown views from Skylawn, the sprawling five-acre rooftop park and sustainable organic farm that calls to mind downtown rooftop green spaces in New York City. The park is designed by Hoerr Schaudt, the landscape architects behind McGovern Centennial Park in the Museum District.

Foodies, take note: The rooftop farms offer a chance for in-house restaurants to source ingredients and create a farm-to-table experience.

Photo courtesy of Lovett Commercial

The roof promises striking downtown views.


Design-minded guests will delight in the three new atriums; the building will be surgically punctured to create the spaces to draw in existing light utilizing an ETFE roof system — the first in Houston. Each atrium will feature with a unique monumental staircase that will mark the space as coworking, culinary, or retail.

As a nod to Houston's booming arts and cultural scene, the building will house installations and exhibits by local and international artists and will host events, according to a release.

The complex is designed by the world-renowned architecture firm OMA along with partner Jason Long in collaboration with Houston-based Powers Brown Architecture. Diversity is a key theme, with myriad design elements and purposes — and it's apropos that the building is named for Barbara Jordan, Houston's beloved first African American modern-day state senator.

Other than the Day for Night festival, the site has been of interest to architecture and design circles, but has largely been an afterthought. But now, the shuttered post office could become one of Houston's most vibrant destinations with its ideal strategic location.

"This forward-thinking development is breaking away from the traditional model by creating a cultural epicenter that brings local and international cuisine, retail, art, music and innovation to our theatre district," said Mayor Sylvester Turner, in a statement.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

The funds will go toward bringing a new, pre-accelerator program to Houston. Shobeir Ansari/Getty Images

Houston has yet again attracted a nationally recognized accelerator program to downtown. Wisconsin-based genera8tor has announced its plans to launch its pre-accelerator program, gBETA, in Houston in spring of next year thanks to a $1.25 million grant approved by the Downtown Redevelopment Authority.

"With gener8tor joining nonprofit global accelerator MassChallenge in Downtown, the Houston innovation ecosystem will be home to two nationally ranked accelerators," says Bob Eury, president of Central Houston and the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, in a news release. "This agreement furthers Central Houston's long-term goal to create a collaborative Innovation District within Downtown and helps bridge the gap between small local startups and the city's growing innovation economy."

The grant will not exceed $1.25 million and will be paid out over the next five years. Gener8tor will have two gBETA cohorts a year, and the seven-week program will have a max of five teams across industries. The program will be equity-free and at no cost to participants accepted into the program. The program will also host six lunch-and-learn events that will be free and open to the Houston innovation ecosystem.

"The city of Houston's leadership is supporting its community members to be the economic drivers of tomorrow," says Abby Taubner, partner at gener8tor and managing director of gBETA, in the release. "We are humbled and excited to be part of the palpable excitement surrounding the local startup ecosystem, and cannot wait to roll up our sleeves and get to work."

According to gener8tor, a third of gBETA graduates will advance to a later stage equity-based accelerator program or raise a seed round of at least $50,000, and gBETA graduates from across the organization's eight states have collectively raised $57.7 million and created 716 jobs.

This announcement comes on the heels of MasChallenge Texas launching its Houston program earlier this year, as well as Silicon Valley's Plug and Play Technology Center entering the Houston market as well this year. Houston's downtown landscape has become a major hotbed for tech and innovation, with UiPath opening a major Houston office and coworking space popping up across downtown.

"Innovation is the next economic frontier for Houston, and gener8tor's gBETA program will help bridge the gap between the city's legacy industries—energy, medicine, space exploration and the port—and our growing innovation ecosystem of startup accelerators, investors and entrepreneurs," says Mayor Sylvester Turner in the release. "gBETA is the latest leap into that future, following in the exciting footsteps of The Ion innovation hub; the relocation or expansion of Silicon Valley firms to Houston such as Bill.com, UiPath and Google Cloud; the plans for the Texas Medical Center's TMC3 translational research commercialization campus; and so much more."