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Looking at the Unbuilt Bank of the Southwest Tower, Houston’s Precursor to One Liberty Place

Bank of the Southwest Tower in the Houston skyline. Image via Jahn/Murphy, IncBank of the Southwest Tower in the Houston skyline. Image via Jahn/Murphy, Inc

Before One Liberty Place topped the Philadelphia skyline in 1987, a larger skyscraper, also designed by Helmut Jahn, was proposed in the city of Houston, with a design that featured striking similarities to the future Philadelphia tower. Known as the Bank of the Southwest, the supertall was planned to count 82 floors, with an angled crown capped with a sharp spire that would rise 1,404 feet high. The larger office floors were to have angled cuts on each corner. The firm of Jahn/Murphy, Inc. was chosen after a design contest in 1982 and the tower was projected to be completed by 1986. The tower was cancelled by 1983 due to a lack of funding, but elements of the design were later integrated into the Philadelphia skyscraper.

Bank of the Southwest Tower and One Liberty Place. Models and images by Thomas Koloski

Bank of the Southwest Tower and One Liberty Place. Models and images by Thomas Koloski

Bank of the Southwest Tower looking north. Original image by Google Earth, model and edit by Thomas Koloski

Bank of the Southwest Tower looking north. Original image by Google Earth, model and edit by Thomas Koloski

The skyscraper would have stood out prominently in the skyline, rising around 400 feet taller than the other surrounding high-rises, including some of the largest ones that were completed in the previous years. The tower’s glass, metal and stone cladding would have made the tower visually pop, with the glass absorbing the tones of the sky. The stone pattern on the four sides of the crown under the angled edges was similar to the pattern at the top of One Liberty Place.

The nighttime lighting would have been incredible, with highlights at each of the setbacks. The angled faces at the top and the spire would have been lit up, as well. The tower, ahead of its time for its height and design, would have been a fantastic addition that would have greatly improved the Houston skyline.

Bank of the Southwest Tower looking southeast. Original image by Google Earth, model and edit by Thomas Koloski

Bank of the Southwest Tower looking southeast. Original image by Google Earth, model and edit by Thomas Koloski

Bank of the Southwest Tower looking west. Original image by Google Earth, model and edit by Thomas Koloski

Bank of the Southwest Tower looking west. Original image by Google Earth, model and edit by Thomas Koloski

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3 Comments on "Looking at the Unbuilt Bank of the Southwest Tower, Houston’s Precursor to One Liberty Place"

  1. What would the cost be in today’s dollars to build in Houston should egos be stirred enough to make it happen?

    One billion?

  2. Who knows what would’ve been had Helmut Jahn made Liberty Place much taller than what it currently is. The ACC may have never gotten built, but also Philadelphia would’ve had a much taller and more elegant twin towers as opposed to NYC’s old twin towers. Either way, Liberty Place is a major gift to the city while the CITC is a major curse, w/ or w/o Billy Penn placed on top of it.

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