Luxe life

New high-end workspace opens in Houston's Galleria area

Austin-based FIRMSPACE has opened its third location in Houston with a 32,000-square-foot space in BBVA Compass Plaza. Courtesy of FIRMSPACE

Houston's getting another high-end coworking space. FIRMSPACE, an Austin-based company, selected Houston as its third location.

With 32,000 square feet of space, FIRMSPACE Houston is open for business in BBVA Compass Plaza (2200 Post Oak Boulevard) on the 10th and 11th floors of the 22-story building. The company opened its first location in Austin, followed by a Denver location last December.

"This opening is particularly close to my heart given that I'm from here," says co-founder and CEO, Matt Ferstler, in a release. "We launched FIRMSPACE to serve an unmet need in the coworking market, and our Houston site is unlike anything we've ever done. I think it will exceed our members' expectations."

The space has the normal coworking office offerings — high-speed internet, standing desks, shared conference rooms and common areas — but takes the perks a step further with onsite dry cleaning, catered lunches, evening programing, and more. FIRMSPACE caters to lawyers, financial services firms, and remote corporate executives, according to the release, and members have access to the firm's other locations, which soon should include Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, New York City, Salt Lake City, and Washington D.C.

The building was designed by Houston-based architecture firm, Page, and was completed in 2014. Page design director, Jen Bussinger, oversaw FIRMSPACE's integration into the building.

"Since we're in the Energy Capital of the World, we drew our inspiration from curves and fractal shapes found within a geode stone for texture and natural rock formations for the color palette," says Bussinger in a release. "In the age of biophilia – the hypothesis that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature – we go out of our way to feature different representations of nature."

Uptown views

Courtesy of FIRMSPACE

The new FIRMSPACE Houston resides in BBVA Compass Plaza, which opened in 2014.

Domino's and Nuro have picked Houston to launch a self-driving pizza delivery vehicle pilot program. Courtesy of Nuro and Domino's

Unmanned vehicles are taking over Houston, any way you slice it. Nuro, the robotics company specializing in commercialized self-driving cars, first entered the Houston market earlier this year with its grocery delivery partnership with Kroger. Now, the company has teamed up with Domino's Pizza to deliver an autonomous pizza delivery pilot program in Houston.

Only a select group of Houston Domino's customers will be able to have the option to choose an unmanned delivery process from the R2 vehicles. Currently, Nuro and Domino's have not revealed who will be able to use the service or when. In a news release from Domino's, the company notes that the technology will be available later this year.

"We are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve the delivery experience for our customers," says Kevin Vasconi, Domino's executive vice president and chief information officer, in the release. "Nuro's vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience, which makes them a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey. The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

On online orders, select customers will have the option to choose to receive delivery from one of the R2 vehicles. Once the order is in, the customers would receive a PIN code to unlock the compartment to access the pizza upon its arrival.

"We are excited to expand our autonomous delivery service in Houston with Domino's delivery," says Cosimo Leipold, Nuro's head of partner relations, in the release. "Domino's delivers millions of pizzas around the world every day, and the company shares our passion for focusing on the customer experience. We see incredible opportunity in offering Nuro's world-class autonomous technology to Domino's customers, accelerating our shared mission to transform local commerce."

Self-driving vehicles are sure to change Houston's landscape, according to Rand Stephens, managing director of the Houston office of commercial real estate services company Avison Young.

"I think forward-thinking tenants, developers, brokers, architects, and engineers will design interim solutions with lower ratios," Stephens says in another InnovationMap article. "They'll really take the time to understand the occupants' commuting patterns and steer away from one parking space for one person."

Nuro Co-Founder Jiajun Zhu and Domino's CEO Ritch Allison in front of one of Nuro's R1 vehicle.sCourtesy of Nuro and Domino's