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One Shell Plaza

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1971, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and Wilson, Morris, Crain and Anderson. 910 Louisiana St.
  • (Photograph by Gerald Moorhead )

This fifty-story, 715-foot-tall, 1.6-million-square-foot building was the first major downtown project of Houston real estate developer Gerald D. Hines. SOM's engineer Fazlur Khan applied his framed-tube concept to the construction of One Shell, which at the time of its completion was the tallest cast-in-place concrete building in the world. SOM designer Bruce Graham articulated the distinctive characteristics of the framed tube by undulating the concrete exterior walls where the building needs to be thickest to resist wind loads. Faced entirely with polished travertine, One Shell seems remote. It represents the cold, isolated architectural monument that American architects were increasingly critical of by the time of its completion.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "One Shell Plaza", [Houston, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 330-330.

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