on the boards: historic sunset coffee building

G2LD is proud to team with BNIM and Lake Flato Architects for the revitalization of the Historic Sunset Coffee Building in Downtown Houston. A joint public-private partnership which has been in the works for more than a decade, this project seeks to bring life back to Allen’s Landing , a site linked to Houston’s early history. Located at the confluence of the Buffalo and White Oak Bayous, the property is where the Allen brothers first came ashore in 1836 to found the town of Houston.

Historic picture of the site, where Buffalo and White Oak Bayous meet. The Sunset Coffee Building at Allen’s Landing, a three story brick building, can be seen to the left.

In 1910 the brick Sunset Coffee Building was built on the site to take advantage of the nearby barge, railroad, and street transport, but the building served numerous purposes over the decades, including a nightclub in the 1970s, before being abandoned in recent years.

The current plan for revitalization, led by Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston First Corporation, calls for an outdoor plaza, refreshment and rental facilities for the runners, canoers, kayakers, and bicyclists that enjoy the Bayou’s trails. The 11,000 square foot building will also house office and event space, including a green roof terrace, for private events.

Architect’s rendering of the revitalized site including public plaza, kayak and bicycle rentals, and a green roof terrace event space. Courtesy of Lake Flato and BNIM.

According to Houston First Corporation, “The project goal is to reconnect Buffalo Bayou with downtown with a beautiful and accessible outdoor venue. The building will serve as a hub of activity on the bayou and create a landmark for the site, which is the birthplace of Houston.”

The project presented many interesting challenges for the design team including how to integrate the historic elements of the site with new modern goals. For the lighting team this meant largely choosing fixtures that reflect the industrial history of the site, but lamping them with the latest in efficient lamp technology –largely LED and fluorescent. Among the exciting lighting features:

•An elevated bridge which extends from the downtown street level to a cantilever over the Bayou will have a linear LED detailed into the handrail, to give the entire walkway a subtle glow, allowing the bridge to be a visual connection between the city and its birthplace both day and night.
•An internal corner stair tower which extends through the roof deck will be lit with LED fixtures that cast a watery blue pattern on all of its surfaces. This will allow the stairs to serve as a four story visual beacon for the start of the Buffalo Bayou trails (which feature blue lighting along much of their length).
•A green roof deck, available for private events, which features various sizes of softly glowing orbs nestled throughout the landscape, creating a dramatic but sophisticated venue with downtown Houston as the backdrop.

Abandoned 1910 building as it sits now, an unfortunate eyesore along the bayou trails which have seen much revitalization in recent years.

Architect’s vision for the new space. Courtesy Lake Flato and BNIM.

G2LD is proud to be a member of this excellent design team which is bringing new life back to this historic site.

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