Architectural Icon In Downtown Houston Getting A $20M Update

Formerly hidden space is being revealed, reconfigured and repurposed as part of a two-phase project to reactivate one of downtown Houston’s iconic skyscrapers.

The estimated $20 million project at Bank of America Center will add 35,000 square feet to the already 1.25 million-square-foot property. Located at 700 Louisiana St., the 1983 postmodern tower rises 56 stories and features a spire-tipped, stepped-back profile executed in Swedish red granite.


When it decided to lease 4,200 sq. ft. on the 21st floor of 853 Broadway in New York’s Flatiron district, True[X] already occupied approximately the same amount of office space on the building’s 14th floor. A primary reason why they took over the higher floor space was to provide an open expanse of interior space, but not for use as offices.

2018 Workplace Trends That Will Influence How We Design

Work no longer is a place we go from 9 to 5. Instead, it’s a compilation of the many things that make up our identity. We go to work to do a job….

“The open office trend will continue to develop,” says Melissa Cheing, associate at Sydness Architects. “Due to the increase in costs and the prevalence of startups (with low initial overhead), there is a demand for flexible and efficient workspaces. While the open workspace trend has been growing over the past decade, we frequently see it transforming into a request for flex workspace. Companies are increasingly allowing for flexible hours and remote work access as a means of maximizing staff while minimizing direct workspace square footage. A flexible environment allows for a number of work types and styles while also freeing up space for employee satisfaction spaces.”

Inside the New Offices of True[X] in New York City

True[X], a digital ad-tech company that provides a video engagement advertising platform for the world’s top brands, recently opened an additional office in New York City, designed by Sydness Architects.

The Street, Restaurant, and Cafe Changes Coming to Bank of America Center Once the Secret Building Inside It Is Exhumed

NEW RENDERINGS released by Sydness Architects show the street-level changes planned for the Bank of America Center, which sits across the street from Jones Plaza on one side and Philip Johnson’s other notable downtown office tower, Pennzoil Place, on the other. Last fall, building owner M-M Properties announced plans to remove the mummified 2-story Western Union building that had been encapsulated within the Bank of America Center’s northeast quadrant since 1983.

Windows and doors are shown added to the skyscraper along Capitol and Louisiana streets — in 2 of the walls that once entombed the telegram building. The rendering at top shows the reconfigured view from outside Jones Hall, with new 2-story openings facing Capitol St.

603 W. 44th St.: Sydness Architects

This six-story office building on Manhattan’s west side is the result of adding five new floors onto an existing one-story pub/restaurant. McQuaid’s Public House has been a fixture in the neighborhood for decades and the owner wanted to retain the existing pub and add the new office building floors and ground floor lobby with as little interruption to pub operations as possible. The neighborhood is fast becoming a hot spot for tech and media companies, and the full floors of nearly 2500 square feet are well suited for small growing startup companies.

Hell’s Kitchen Pub to Form Base of New Office Building Designed by Sydness Architects

McQuaid’s Public House owner Tom McQuaid has taken an “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach to the rapid development underway in Hell’s Kitchen: After years of fielding calls from developers, he took matters into his own hands and commissioned Sydness Architects to add a five-story office building to the top of his popular pub at 589 Eleventh Avenue.

The building features a foundation designed to support the weight of a larger structure, and a lightweight steel frame system will also be added. Renderings show zinc metal cladding and irregular fenestration. The black-framed windows will create an intricate shadow pattern throughout the day, and a wall of windows with south and east views will let in abundant natural light. A penthouse floor and rooftop deck with sweeping neighborhood views will be highly coveted amenities. Moreover, after-work drinks will be just an elevator ride away – the original base building will be preserved, and McQuaid’s will stay in operation.

“This design is emblematic of the spirit of the neighborhood” – K. Jeffries Sydness, founder, Sydness Architects

TrueX New York Office by Sydness Architects

Sydness Architects recently completed a new office space in New York for TrueX, a next-gen digital ad-tech company and subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. Different from other offices, this space offers TrueX employees an offsite location to plug-in, collaborate, and socialize away from their day-to-day workplace. Employees don’t have dedicated desk space on the 21st floor. Instead, it’s open for spontaneous group work, meetings, and private bookings from anyone throughout the 21st Century Fox family. “We blended both aesthetics and function to allow for a wide range of use, while still creating some definition of program,” commented Melissa Cheing, associate at Sydness Architects.


Sydness Architects recently completed new office space in New York for True [X], a next-gen digital ad-tech
company and subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. The project was completed last month and is said to be the first stand-alone amenity space of its kind. It offers True[X] employees an offsite location to plug in, collaborate, and socialize away from their day-to-day workplace.

Sydness Architects to Lead Redesign at Houston’s Bank of America Center

The Bank of America Center in downtown Houston will receive an upgrade in the form of new mezzanines to host new amenities. Slated for completion as early as this year, the project will be overseen by New York–based practice Sydness Architects. Groundbreaking is estimated to take place in February or March.

Mezzanines coming to Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s atrium in Houston tower

Late last year, architects took to the streets to protest changes to the AT&T Building, Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s postmodern masterpiece. The renovation proposed by Snøhetta would glass in the building’s monumental granite facade, a move that riled preservationists and fans of the building. Now, similar changes are afoot at another Johnson and Burgee tower, this time in Houston. The owners of the Bank of America Center, a 56-story postmodern tower with a soaring atrium, want to glass in the lower level to create mezzanines which, while more low-slung, are infinitely more leasable.

Cubicles, Mezzanines, Great Glass Elevator to Fill Philip Johnson’s Grand Downtown Banking Hall Airspace As Part of Renovation

QUICK, what’s the most vaulted bank in all of Houston? Easy: the lofty Bank of America branch on the ground floor of the Bank of America Center at 700 Louisiana St. Downtown (pictured at top) – so grand, so postmodern, so… unleasable. Philip Johnson designed the 12-story high banking hall to resemble “a sixteenth-century Dutch guild hall, albeit one scaled to be seen from the freeway at sixty miles per hour,” writes Joel Wareren Barna in a history of the project included in The See-Through Years.

Bank of America Center to bring hidden building to light

Houston-based M-M Properties tapped Sydness Architects to find a way to utilize the former Western Union building that was wrapped inside the bank tower when it was constructed in the the early 1980s. That space, at Louisiana and Capitol, was completely hidden by a granite facade.

With Anchor Tenant exiting, Bank of America Center to undergo massive renovation

With Bank of America’s impending move to another downtown tower looming on the horizon, Bank of America Tower will soon undergo a $15 million renovation.

The 56-story tower, located at 700 Louisiana, will undergo a multiphase renovation that’ll add 25,000 square feet of new office and restaurant space, an additional floor of office space and a completely reimagined lobby.

Fight Winter Worker Blues with Lighting Technology

Not surprisingly, the optimum light source for almost any space is natural light. A recent study by the Journal of Circadian Rhythms found evidence that the brightness and wavelength of ambient light is not only important for completing tasks, but can also have a strong non-visual biological effects.

Sound Off: Variety in the Workplace

Are cubicles dead? If so, where should we work? Variety has become an important part of modern office design – providing many places for workers to go through the day to fit the task at hand. Office workers are no longer stuck in one place. Some of the best new office layouts cater to a variety of tasks.

Corporate Row grand dame getting a facelift

APF Properties announced that 1156 Avenue of the Americas, the 1911-vintage 84,000 s/f office loft building unique among its skyscraper neighbors on Sixth Avenue’s “Corporate Row” is undergoing a comprehensive modernization.

The Plan: 1156 Avenue of the Americas

The Plan: 1156 Avenue of the Americas

A Midtown building constructed in the early part of the 20th century is getting upgraded for the 21st. APF Properties will implement a four-month, $4 million renovation by Sydness Architects at its 1156 Avenue of the Americas property starting next month, APF Principal Kenneth Aschendorf told Commercial Observer.

Architecture firms venture abroad

When Small Firms Venture Abroad

“K. Jeffries (Jeff) Sydness, AIA, principal in Sydness Architects…says that a staff of 10 to 15 is ideal for taking on foreign jobs of any scale. ‘Be lean and mean so you can do what you want without all the overhead,’ says Sydness, who did numerous international projects with his former firm, Johnson Burgee Architects.”

historical restoration

Five Steps to Successful Historical Restoration

“…Jeff Sydness, AIA, and George Chin, AIA, principals with Sydness Architects of New York, turned to knowledgeable advisors
when they began working on the restoration of the exterior and primary public interior spaces of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, an elegant, 1901 neo-classical landmark located on Central Park West at 68th Street in New York City.”

Designing Hotels Without A Program

Commercial real estate developers are building new hotels without knowing in advance which of any number of international hotel operators may lease them. For developers, this can be a savvy business move, especially in hot, expanding markets where competition for a flag is keen. However, building without a specific operator’s program also carries a degree of risk. Each operator has different design criteria and programmed requirements.

Residential building at the corner of East 49th St. and Second Avenue

Sydness Architects and Continental Finance Corp. constructing…

” ‘Corner sites are a rare and welcome opportunity for both developers and architects,’ said the building’s architect Jeff Sydness of Sydness Architects, formerly a partner with John Burgee Architects and its predecessor firm Johnson Burgee, founded by Philip Johnson. ‘Developers know that condo buyers are willing to pay a premium for the panoramic views a corner allows. And in New York City, it’s not often that an architect can create more than one facade, so we welcome the challenge. For us, the most direct and compelling solution was a continuous, curved facade that lends a monumental quality.’ “

mixed-use community

Sydness Architects Designs 24-Story Mixed Use Project in NYC

“Sydness Architects has designed The Alexander, a 24-story mixed-use community located at 250 East 49th St. in Manhattan. The curved glass tower, which will have a luxury apartment component, will rise from a five-story podium scaled to respect the residential block’s masonry-clad buildings. New York-based developer Continental Finance Corp. is currently building the project. The community, situated on the corner of East 49th Street and Second Avenue, is expected to be completed in 2009.”

Sydness Architects Designs Northwest Arkansas’ First Luxury Condo Complex

“Sydness Architects has designed Northern Arkansas’ first luxury condo complex, consisting of three buildings and rising 15 stories tall. Located on Beaver Lake, the 170-acre project is scheduled to break ground in early 2008, and the first building is slated for occupancy in mid 2008, George Chin, project manager/architect with Sydness, told MHN. Named Grandview Heights, the complex will include 360 condominium residences. One-, two- and three-bedroom units will range from 1,500 to over 3,000 square feet. E & S Development and Properties LLC, based in New York, is the project developer.”

first church of christ scientist, The New York Times

First Church of Christ, Scientist; 2 Congregations Unite, and No. 2 Becomes No. 1

“Now the architect Jeff Sydness has begun a restoration project at Second Church that he says will cost several million dollars. The copper dome has leaks, and a great black net is rigged underneath it in the sanctuary. The facade needs cleaning to remove rust stains — from old pigeon deterrents — and other soil. The huge stained-glass windows will be removed and reinforced, and the great skylight under the dome will get artificial illumination.”

Shanghai St. Regis hotel design

Shanghai Surprise

“If Starwood Hotels and Resorts wanted to make a splah introducing the St. Regis grand to the bustling Shanghai market last summer, it undoubtedly found just the right vehicle. Located in the booming Pudong area, the year-old St. Regis tower is unmistakably elegant, its gently curved peaks set at different heights pointing in opposite directions toward the sky…..”

Luxury hotels by Architectural digest

Shanghai’s St. Regis, Theatrically Grand and Thoroughly Gracious

“If Chairman Mao could see what is happening in Shaghai today, his well preserved body would spin in its casket. For this great trading city, once known as Paris of the East, has returned to its capitalist roots and is busily reinventing itself… The turnaround has resulted in an influx of international luxury hotels, and the St. Regis Shanghai, the latest branch of the St. Regis hotel chain, has swiftly won acclaim….”

The Best New Business Hotels of 2001 by Forbes.

The Best New Business Hotels of 2001

“Shanghai is one of the fastest-growing business centers in the world, and the latest entrant in the race to provide luxury accommodations to visiting executives is the St. Regis. Located in the central business district of Pudong, the St. Regis aims to bring to Shanghai the level of service that has made its New York flagship one of the best in the U.S…”

Places to Live, to Work, and to Shop

“Sydness Architects designed the renovation of the J.P Morgan Investment Management Group’s offices at 522 Fifth Avenue. (When Jeff Sydness was a principal at Swanke Hayden Connell, the project was awarded to the firm in an invited design competition between four New York Architects. Sydness continued work on it after he formed his own firm.) The new design reduces the existing first-floor arcade to a tree-bay entrance portico flank by new retail space.”

Cover Story: The Competition Entrée

“Some architects have entered the international arena through competitions. Several years ago, Sydness Architects won a competition to design the Lujiazui-Itochu Headquarters building, which is now under construction. Then the young firm was invited to enter an international competition to design the 38-story, 385-guest room Hong Ta hotel, also in Shanghai, which they won earlier this year.”

Members & Firms

“Sydness Architects, New York City, has won its second Chinese design competition in a year, this time to design the 38-story, 385-story Hong Ta Hotel in the Pudong area of Shanghai. A 24-story foot high podium will enclose a three-story atrium and support a slender red granite tower with two peaks that curve in opposite directions. A central thin glass corridor nestled between the two towers will afford view of the city from a top-floor restaurant and lounge.”

St. Pete Spiffs Up

“New York City-based Sydness Architects has designed the Florencia, a mixed-use centerpiece for the revitalization of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. The project includes a 23-story luxury condominium tower with retail at street level, and a three story retail/office building with a courtyard entrance.”

US Architects Build Big in the Superpower of Tomorrow

“On the other side of the river, Sydness Architects of New York have won the international competition for the five-star Hong-Ta Hotel. The 38-storey, 385-room hotel is to be located in the Pudong district. The slender tower will be clad in red granite. The design features, a 24-metre high “podium”, for essential hotel facilities.”

Personalities: Off To A Good Start

” ‘It’s a good time to start a firm,’ believes Jeffrey Sydness, AIA, who recently launched his architecture practice in New York with two major commissions in Shanghai plus other projects Stateside. ‘I don’t feel brave about this. I should have done it 12 years ago.’ “

Sydness Wins Shanghai Job

“Jeff Sydness, previously a partner of the firm John Burgee with Philip Johnson, recently launched his own firm, Sydness Architects, in New York City. The new firm has won an international competition to design a headquarters building in Shanghai for Itochu, a multinational company, and the Lujiazui Development Company.”

Eastern Subtlety Meets Western Luxury at Takashimaya

“The 20-story Takashimaya building, designed by architects John Burgee and Jeffries Sydness for the $10 billion Japanese retail conglomerate, tempts passerby with a 3-story, windowed entrance facade revealing the merchandise in the ground-floor retail area. The exterior lighting design by Claude Engle accentuates the building’s entire facade and detailing at night.”