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712 Main Street, Houston, Texas

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Main lobby

One of the city’s historic buildings undergoes an elevator modernization.

In 2012, Grapevine, Texas-based Eklund’s Inc. and Schindler cooperated in an elevator-modernization project for CB Richard Ellis at Houston’s historic 712 Main Street. The art-deco skyscraper, designed by Alfred C. Finn, Kenneth Franzheim and J.E.R. Carpenter, was constructed in 1929 by real-estate mogul, banker and newspaper publisher Jesse H. Jones. The 800,000-sq.-ft. tower stands 36 stories tall and was the tallest in Houston until 1963. Having changed ownership over the years, the property was most recently the JP Morgan Chase Bank Building. Prior to that, it was the Gulf Building.

The elevator modernization project included updating the elevator mechanics and interiors to match the style and quality of the building, which includes a 15,000-sq.-ft. retail banking center on the ground floor with 43-ft. ceilings, marbled floors and walls, and large stained-glass windows. Eklund’s was charged with designing modern cab interiors for eight passenger elevators and one freight elevator. Incorporating the original metal art-deco grille at the top perimeter of the existing elevator cabs was a key aspect of the company’s design.

After considering various materials and design options, materials considered modern, elegant and complementary to the grandeur of the building were chosen. The upper panels are constructed of polished Botticino Fiorito stone and framed in stainless-steel edging. Decorative Cambridge-patterned metal with stainless-steel edging provides a textured contrast for the lower panels. The frieze is recessed black plastic laminate, and the base is flush stainless steel. The handrail (also stainless steel) rests on a flush stainless-steel handrail backer. A lacquered painted ceiling houses LED downlights, and fluorescent perimeter lighting highlights the original decorative grill incorporated above the upper panels. It was Eklund’s intention that, following this work, the craftsmanship displayed would be admired for another 80-plus years.

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