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The 75-story, 1,049-foot (319 m) tall JPMorgan Chase Tower of Houstonmarker, Texasmarker, formerly the Texas Commerce Tower, is the tallest building in Texas, the tallest five-sided building in the world, and is the 45th 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.marker Hobby Airportmarker. 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 Centermarker in Los Angelesmarker to become the tallest building in the United Statesmarker 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 Hallmarker. 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[41144] at the University of Notre Damemarker 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.


Image:JPMorganChaseTowerEntranceHoustonTX.JPG|Entrance to the JPMorgan Chase TowerImage:Daniel2986.jpg|JPMorgan Chase Tower as viewed from ground level.Image:Daniel2986 Observation Deck.jpg|View from the Sky Lobby facing south west Houston. Visible are the Wells Fargo Plazamarker to the left (2nd tallest building in Texas) and in the far background the Williams Towermarker (4th Tallest in Texas, and tallest in the world away from a central business district.)Image:JPMorgan Chase Tower from base.jpg|The JPMorgan Chase Tower from near its base on a cloudy afternoon. The JPMorgan Center is visible in the foreground.Image:JPMorgan_Chase_Tower_with_Houston_Skyline.jpg|The building as seen from a parking lot north of Minute Maid Parkmarker.Image:JPMorgan_Chase_Tower_with_Houston_Skyline_at_night.jpg|Houston evening skyline from the same parking lot. The J.P. Morgan Chase Tower is on the far right.Image:Houston Morgan Chase Building Ike.jpg|Damage to the JP Morgan Chase Tower after Hurricane Ike.

See also


  1. Unger, Craig. House of Bush, House of Saud. Scribner. 2004. 290.

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