JPMorgan Chase Tower
The 75-story, 1,002-foot (305 m) tall JPMorgan Chase Tower of Houston, Texas, formerly the Texas Commerce Tower, is the tallest building in Texas, the tallest five-sided building in the world, and is the 48th tallest building in the world.

The tower was built in downtown Houston at 600 Travis Street in 1981 as the Texas Commerce Tower. It was designed by noted architects I. M. Pei & Partners. The local architect and architect of record is 3D/International. In some early plans, the building reached up to 80 stories; however, the FAA expressed concern that additional height was a risk for aircraft going into and out of nearby William P. Hobby Airport. Nonetheless, when it was completed, it was the eighth tallest building in the world. The building was developed as part of a partnership between Texas Commerce Bank and Khalid bin Mahfouz. Upon its completion, the building surpassed Aon Center in Los Angeles to become the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi River, a title it held until Los Angeles' Library Tower, now known as the U.S. Bank Tower, was built in 1990. JPMorgan Chase Tower is also connected to the Houston Downtown Tunnel System. This system forms a network of subterranean, climate-controlled, pedestrian walkways that link twenty-five full city blocks. The lobby of JPMorgan Chase Tower has been designed to harmonize not only with the height of the structure, but also with the portico of Jones Hall. For that reason, a five story glass wall supported by a stainless steel space frame spans the entire 85 foot width of the front entrance, making the lobby area light and airy, and opening up the space to the plaza outside. The sky lobby, aka "observation deck", of this building is located on the 60th floor. The sky lobby acts as a transfer point for persons traveling to the upper (61-75) floors, but also as an observation deck for the public during the working hours of 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. One can take the express elevator, providing a panoramic view of the city of Houston thanks to the use of wide glass spans and thirteen-foot ceilings. At the entrance of the building is a multi-colored sculpture designed by Joan MirĂ³. While the tower's name reflects the bank JPMorgan Chase, the only space designated to Chase is a single branch office on the bottom floor. The tower is managed by Hines (its original owner) and owned by Prime Asset Management. The adjacent J.P. Morgan Center & Garage is also owned by Hines.

Hurricane Ike
On September 13, 2008, many of the tower's windows were blown out as Hurricane Ike moved through the area leaving desks exposed, metal blinds hanging in a twisted heap and smoky black glass covering the streets below. Police were forced to cordon off the area due to the amount of debris laying in the streets. At first, it was speculated that the glass came off the building due to impact from debris or due to high speed winds in the confined spaces. However, flying glass debris must be entirely governed by drag and lift forces that overcome gravity for a considerable time period. Also, the high speed in confined spaces theory is not entirely justified since the height of damage seen in the tower exceed too significantly the height of the Chase Center (parking garage) next to the tower. This theory was proposed because an increase in wind speed produce a drop in external pressure in the side and leeward walls and the pressure inside the building remained normal (high) thus resulting in a force that would overcome design pressures. Other interesting observations include those of ABS Consulting engineers who suggest that glazing damage may have been produced by "organized" vortices produced by the upwind Calpine Center and steady vortices between the Tower and the Chase Center (parking garage). The NatHaz Modeling Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame is currently conducting an investigation of the flow field around the structure, modeling the tower and the immediate area surrounding it using Computational fluid dynamics(CFD) . Preliminary findings suggest that the localized damage is the result of a confluence of multiple mechanisms arising from the arrangement of nearby buildings, critical flow directionality and the possible entrapment of debris within evolving flow structures. For the most part, eye witnesses claim the windows fell in whole pieces, and shattered upon impacting the ground below.


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Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated 21 media and removed a media
    about 6 years ago via
  • Damien Fox
    Damien Fox commented
    This tower grows on you after closer inspection. The 5 sided design is only appreciated by looking up from the base of the tower, always thought a dynamic concept would have been 2 buildings situated in a staggered configuration, similar to and in style of Penzoil Place. Originally planned to be much taller, although still has vertical prominence in Houston skyline. 60th floor observation lobby still a must see.
    about 6 years ago via Mobile
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  • Ivan Keirn
    Ivan Keirn updated
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