When acclaimed architect Jason Long described POST Houston as a “multilayered, interconnected platform,” he could have been speaking about the design of the structure itself—or the concept.
It was June 2019, and the adaptive reuse project in downtown Houston’s historic district had just been announced. With a food hall, concert venues, hotel, retail, offices, and more connected via a massive zigzagging staircase, the 550,000-square-foot space that’s slated to open this fall will quite literally layer dozens of cultural experiences upon one another.
But moreover, POST Houston—designed by New York-based OMA Architecture, where Long is a partner, and Houston’s Powers Brown Architecture—will also connect many qualities of the Space City’s past with ideals that the design world believes will drive the city forward.
POST draws on local history, blending inspiration from Houston’s storied relationship with NASA and the building’s past as the Barbara Jordan Post Office. Original columns and tunnels used for mail sorting are now accented by loads of neon and backlit translucent materials—most notably in the NASA-inspired music venue 713 Music Hall.
Natural elements are pulled in from POST’s home near the banks of Buffalo Bayou, too. “It was important to us to weave nature and landscape into the design in a very deliberate way,” says Adam Williams, an associate at POST’s developer, Lovett Commercial. Light will stream into the depths of the former warehouse and distribution facility via enormous skylights and atriums. “The industrial scale of the building allowed us to create truly one-of-a-kind environments not seen in typical new construction,” he adds.
Chicago’s Hoerr Schaudt landscape architects, known for their work on Hermann Park’s revamp, designed a 5.5-acre rooftop garden and workable farm dubbed The Skylawn: an urban park in the sky with 360-degree views of downtown’s towers. The Skylawn will host markets, weddings, and concerts on a rotating stage. It’s poised to be one of the largest rooftop parks in the world, according to Architectural Digest, built atop Houston’s first ethylene tetrafluoroethylene roof (think the Water Cube from the Beijing Olympics and the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium), which is more durable and recyclable than other popular polymers in the design world.
And then, of course, there’s the food. In typical Houston fashion, international cuisines from world-class chefs will fill the 53,000-square-foot Post Market: healthy West African-inspired plates from Houston’s own chef Ope Amosu at ChòpnBlọk and sustainably and ethically caught seafood from Nordic seafood from chef Christopher Haatuft’s Golfstrømmen Seafood Market, along with crowd pleasers from The Butcher’s Burger and the Saison Cellar wine bar.
Marry all of this together under (and over) one sustainably designed roof, and POST “aims to create a sense of community accessible to all Houstonians,” Williams says. “Walkable, transit-friendly communities aren’t created overnight, but as downtown continues to grow, we expect the site to become even better connected to the urban fabric.”