Skyrise and shine

These Five Developments Will Change Houston Forever

A new decade means a new look for the city.

By Gwendolyn Knapp January 30, 2020 Published in the February 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The face of Houston is going to change with these five developments. 

THE GREATER HOUSTON AREA IS CHANGING AT A RAPID PACE—so rapid, it’s easy to lose the plot. These five major developments, all taking shape over the next couple of years, are set to change the face of the city.

The Downtown Launchpad is set to open in Spring 2020. 

Downtown Launchpad 

Location: Downtown 

  • Major players: Central Houston, Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Gensler Architects
  • What it is: An anchor of the upcoming 4-mile Innovation District spanning downtown to the Med Center, this start-up incubator will take up the 10th floor of the Amegy Bank building.
  • Why it matters: Hundreds of entrepreneurs will cycle through every four months to develop start-ups that could address climate change, advance medicine, and more.
  • Why we're excited: We don’t know what the future of tech looks like, but Houston aims to be a vital part of it between the Launch Pad, Rice’s Ion, and the TMCx.
  • Fun fact: Two of America’s top accelerators, MassChallenge and gener8tor, were recruited to anchor the 17,000-square- foot Launch Pad. The Cannon Houston will also run two floors of co-working space at Amegy, a “virtual village” where start-ups can land post-Launch Pad.
  • Construction status: Almost finished
  • Opening date: Spring 2020 

The MFAH Nancy and Rich Kinder Building should open in Fall 2020. 

MFAH Nancy and Rich Kinder Building

Location: Museum District

  • Major players: MFAH, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Steven Holl Architects
  • What it is: The third and final gallery building on the museum’s 14-acre, $450 million Sarofim campus
  • Why it matters: Two floors of modern and contemporary art featuring never-before-seen collections, plus a restaurant, a 215-seat theater, an atrium, 400 parking spaces, and tunnels to sister buildings
  • Why we're excited: The building’s 7 site-specific commissions include a dragon sculpture by Ai Wei Wei and a tapestry by Trenton Doyle Hancock.
  • Fun fact: Come nighttime, vertical glass tubes on the trapezoidal concrete building will glow in patterns. 
  • Construction status: Underway 
  • Opening date: Fall 2020 

The Lynn Wyatt Square for the Performing Arts, set to open in 2021, will anchor the Theater District. 

Lynn Wyatt Square for the Performing Arts 

Location: Downtown Theater District 

  • Major players: Houston First, Rios Clementi Hale Studios Architects
  • What it is: A $29 million facelift for Jones Plaza
  • Why it matters: The square will anchor the bustling Theater District, host performances on its new lawn, and no longer resemble a toilet.
  • Why we're excited: The dazzling water features, great for selfies 
  • Fun fact: Wyatt donated $10 million to the project—hence the naming rights.
  • Construction status: Starts summer 2020
  • Opening date: Summer 2021

Funding secured, the $20 million Houston Endowment is set to open in 2022. 

Houston Endowment

Location: Washington Corridor 

  • Major players: Houston Endowment, PRODUCTORA, Kevin Daly Architects
  • What it is: The new headquarters for the foundation, overlooking Spotts Park
  • Why it matters: The $20 million, 40,000-square-foot office will be the new center of Houston philanthropy.
  • Why we're excited: The building, inspired by the park and its canopy of oaks, will be among our city’s architectural wonders.
  • Fun fact: The winning architects (Mexico City’s PRODUCTORA and LA’s Daly) won out over 120 other teams.
  • Construction status: Funding secured
  • Opening date: May 2022

The Galveston Bay Foundation's opening date is to be announced, but the first phase is underway. 

Galveston Bay Foundation 

Location: Kemah 

  • Major players: GBF, Kirksey Architecture
  • What it is: The green, 30-acre headquarters for the foundation
  • Why it matters: Students (and adults) can head here daily to learn about the bay. 
  • Why we're excited: A pier, boardwalk, trails, 4-acre shoreline conservation project, outdoor classrooms, and, of course, water access
  • Fun fact: The headquarters will be among 25 buildings in America that meet the rigorous Living Building Challenge, with solar panels and cisterns to collect rain for drinking water.
  • Construction status: $15 of $25 million raised; first phase underway
  • Opening date: TBA


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