Medical Towers Building
The Medical Towers Building was SOM’s first Houston project. Although they were listed as consulting architects, they probably had a large role in the design. Golemon & Rolfe’s best known projects at the time, the Saint Theresa School of 1948 at 6602 Rodrigo Street and the Golemon & Rolfe Professional Building of 1951 at 5160 Travis Street were exercises in expressive design and chunky detailing, hardly similar to the cool crisp look achieved in the Medical Towers.
Construction was followed with the same obsessive interest in the local papers as the Melrose Building because this was the first major office tower to be built in Houston following the recession of 1951-52. It was also enhanced by the fact the building won a prestigious Progressive Architecture design award in January 1954 even before the final design had been completed.
The building was notable for its riff on the parti of SOM’s Lever House of 1952 where the public space in the large base was replaced with a private parking garage. The British magazine, Architectural Review published a witty comment on this inversion in May 1957 with a photograph of a car’s headlights peering through the decorative screening of the garage like some caged beast at the zoo.
The Medical Towers is still relatively intact which is surprising considering the metabolic rate of change in the Texas Medical Center.