Houston, Texas

Completion Date: April 2011

Owner: Houston Ballet

Program: A six-story, 115,000-square-foot home for the Houston Ballet and its academy, located in the city's theater district. The project includes nine dance studios, a dance laboratory, dressing rooms, a common room, and offices. An open-air pedestrian sky bridge connects the new steel-structure building to the ballet's performance space next door, the Wortham Theater Center.

Design Concept and Solution: Imagining the center as a living billboard for dance, Gensler wanted to create a building that would showcase the activity of the dancers within. The architects drew inspiration from the proscenium stage, stacking double-height rehearsal studios atop each other so that passersby below see the studios framed by the center's black granite facade. The architects continued this framing effect on the inside by surrounding the studios' interior-facing windows with walnut planking. They kept the fixtures and finishes minimal and neutral-toned to further emphasize the activity of the dancers: long, lean lighting strips and clear glass railings (along with the lines of the walnut planking) provide a static backdrop for the movements of the dancers.

Total construction cost: $46 million

711 Louisiana, Suite 300
Houston, TX 77002
Phone 713.844.0000 
Fax 713.844.0001


Owner: Houston Ballet

711 Louisiana, Suite 300
Houston, TX 77002
Phone 713.844.0000 
Fax 713.844.0001

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
James Furr, FAIA, Regional Managing Principal; Richard Maxwell, AIA, Project Principal; Marshall Strabala, AIA, Architecture Design Director; Michelle Hatton-Rodriguez, IIDA,  Interior Designer; Kent Lew, AIA, Project Manager; Terence Newell, AIA, Project Architect; Sam Crawford, AIA, Technical Director; Dongxiao Liu, AIA, Project Designer; Vince Flickinger, Project Designer; John Ruelas, Graphics; Di Ann Hassloch, Specifications

Civil and Structural Engineer: Walter P. Moore

MEP Engineer: Jacobs

Lighting: Archiluce

Acoustical and A/V: HFP

Theatre Lighting and Rigging: WJHW

Security: Ferguson Consulting

General contractor: W. S. Bellows Construction

Nic Lehoux
Credits: ©Nic Lehoux/Gensler

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
AutoCAD 2006



Structural system: Steel (Myrex Industries) and composite deck

Exterior cladding
Stone: Absolute Black Granite – American Stone Company/Kadsen

Metal/glass curtainwall: Arrowall/Viracon

EIFS, ACM, or other:  Cement Plaster

Modified bitumen roofing: Johns Manville

Aluminum: Arrowall

Glass: Viracon

Entrances: Arrowall

Wood doors: Algoma/Door Pro

Sliding doors: Buffalo Millwork

Fire-control doors: WonDoor

Door hardware: Assa Abloy

Cabinet hardware: Mockett

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: USG Halcyon ClimaPlus

Suspension grid: USG

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Buffalo Millwork

Wood veneer: Crown Veneer Corp.

Glass countertop: Bendheim

Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore, Glidden

Wallcoverings: Carnegie; Donghia

Wood Planking: Elmwood Reclaimed Timber black walnut

Plastic laminate: Wilsonart, Formica

Quartz counters: Dupont Zodiaq

Floor and wall tile: Daltile (all tile on project)

Limestone floor: Material from Walker Zanger, installed by American Stone Company

Cork/rubber flooring: Expanko

Stair treads: Chilewich

Carpet: Constantine; Tandus; J&J Invision

Office furniture: Knoll

Reception furniture: Teknion, Allermuir, Bernhardt, Tuohy

Interior ambient lighting: Cooper

Downlights: Cooper

Task lighting: Knoll

Controls: Lutron

Elevators/Escalators: Schindler

Kohler fixtures with Grohe faucets

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Ballet wood sprung floor: Harlequin

Dance Lab retractable seating: Audience Systems

Bridge stainless steel panels: Forms + Surfaces