Real Estate / High-Rises

Your Sneak Peek Inside The Preston, Houston’s Most Unique High-Rise Takes Shape in 46 Stories of Wonder

Surprises Abound — Secret Wine Bar, Zen Garden and RoboCop Love Included

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It is already destined to be one of the most recognizable buildings in downtown Houston. Munoz + Albin’s unique design that tilts the 46-story tower at a diagonal angle on its half city block, making it look something like a sailboat coming at you, ensures that. But The Preston’s insides live up to the bold vision of its architecture, too.

Hines wanted a real showcase tower — and that’s what it is getting.

An exclusive sit down with the principal players in The Preston’s design — architect Jorge Munoz and MaRS founders (and interior wizards) Kelie Mayfield and Erick Ragni — gave PaperCity an unprecedented look inside the new project. We already were first to tell you back on February 4 that the tallest residential building in downtown Houston will be shaped like a ship.

Now, it’s time to reveal the wonders inside this slim tower that stretches far into the sky.

Expect a secret wine room off the parking garage. Ragni calls it a “sort of a cozy club, speakeasy type place.” And it just one of the found spaces that can be discovered in the new tower being built on the site of the old Houston Chronicle parking garage at 800 Texas Avenue.

The Preston will arrive full of surprises when it opens across from Market Square Park late in 2021 (if things go on schedule). This is an apartment building that looks and feels like anything but an apartment building. Calling Hines’ latest an apartment tower is like calling Watchmen just another superhero show.

It is a descriptor that doesn’t come close to doing it justice.

“It really does feel like a luxurious hotel that one rents,” Ragni says.

There are 373 units to rent, but this isn’t a tower where residents will just go to their apartments and close their doors to the world. A free-flowing amenity level blends the line between lounging and co-working spaces. There are plenty of comfortable spaces. It’s up to you to decide how to use them.

The fitness center even looks out on something of a Zen garden, another tucked away unexpected find.

From Newsprint to RoboCop

The Preston also pays respect to history — its own and Houston’s. The lobby includes a large striking column with words in the stone, excerpts from old Chronicle stories. There is also an eye-catching floating light fixture that displays words, another homage to the site’s newspaper past.

Up on the amenity level, a RoboCop art piece nods at the fact that RoboCop 2 was filmed in downtown Houston, with several scenes shot right around the site of this new tower.

“Erick and I always like to take a sense of storytelling to projects with a few subtle details,” Mayfield tells PaperCity.

MaRS has done high-end hotels like The George in College Station — and this luxury sense comes through in The Preston. The 46th floor (very top) outdoor patio is allowed to breathe. It’s all about being able to sit outside (with an eight foot glass wall providing protection from the wind) with some nice landscaping completing the scene.

The Preston Amenity Level Outdoor Sitting Space; Rendering Courtesy of Munoz + Albin Architecture & Planning
The Preston’s sky lounge is on the very top floor, giving every one access to the high-rise’s most impressive views.

If you’re living in a high-rise, you should have some spectacular views — and this top level patio ensures that every resident has access to sky-high wows. And The Preston’s design team lets the sweeping looks be the star here.

Sometimes, there is no need to force anything. Not if the tower is special enough.

“I like the analogy to New York,” Ragni says. “I think this building really wants to feel like a significant urban achievement in a significant urban hub.”

The Preston Angle

The unique angles that the tower being placed diagonally on the coveted downtown lot add another dimension. Munoz knew that proposing the unusual, slender, ship-like design to Hines was a risk. But he’s certain it is also exactly what won Munoz + Albin the job.

The driving force behind the unique look is that tilting the tower at an angle opens up a world of long-distance views even though The Preston is surrounded by tall buildings all around it. It is a very practical, rather ingenious, solution to deal with the competition already in the sky. But it also creates plenty of unexpected spaces.

“A rectangular building has 90 degree corners,” Munoz says. “This building has 30 degree corners because we’ve taken the glass and folded it in.”

In other words, the inside of The Preston is not going to look like your standard high-rise. This comes through in apartment level hallways that end in big windows that show the city stretching into the horizon. Step off the elevator and you’re immediately reminded you’re in a high-rise.

The Preston does not become some closed-off world once you leave its public levels.

The apartments themselves — which range from 580 feet to 2,927 feet showcase penthouses and cost $1,916 to $13,700 in rent per month — will be different, too. Preston’s units are more free-flowing rather than the series of doors often found in boxier, traditional towers.

“Our team went to Spain and Italy to get some materials and ideas on how to do kitchens and bathrooms,” Munoz tells PaperCity. “I think we’re going to do some really spectacular bathrooms and kitchens…

“The bathrooms do not look like apartment bathrooms. We have floating walls and floating tubs, beautiful tile.”

Sense of arrival is also important. It can be found be found in a motor court with a eye-catching light strip that goes all the way into the lobby.

Munoz + Albin and MaRS have already collaborated on Hines’ towers, including The Southmore in Houston’s Museum District and The Victor in Dallas’ Victory Park neighborhood. The key players in both firms have developed an easy rapport — and more importantly, a real sense of teamwork.

This is one seamless vision of a tower, inside and out.

“We’re architects who just happen to do interiors,” Mayfield says. “We’re shaping the building from the inside out.

“We’re thinking of the architecture.”

The Preston is the type of tower that will have people talking once they see its unique look. Just wait till they get inside.

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