HOUSTON-It’s time to get ahead of the curve to stay on par with the new look taking hold in Houston’s CBD. The 20-year-old First City Tower is joining a growing a list of projects as its owner preps for an $8-million renovation of the 1.3 million-sf office building.

The class A building, situated at 1001 Fannin, will undergo a lower-level renovation that includes a spruce-up of its lobby, below-ground retail that connects to the city’s extensive pedestrian tunnel and surrounding plaza. FC Tower Property Partners, an entity of Houston-based First City Trust and J&B Realty Corp. of Chicago, owns the 49-floor structure, which has the Vinson & Elkins law firm as its lead tenant. Morris Architects of Houston, the building’s original designer, is steering the renovation team.

Jerry Thompson, managing general partner of FC Tower Property, tells GlobeSt.com that the move is preemptive in order to maintain the building’s standing as a world-class office tower. “We are establishing a new threshold for the future,” he says. Construction will begin in first quarter 2002, with completion scheduled for the summer 2003.

Dan Searight, Morris’ senior project designer, says the project will respect the original building’s fine architectural elements. Landscaping and architectural elements are being incorporated to give the building a front-and back-door effect. The Lamar Street entrance will have a frosted glass-and-steel canopy. Shiny, metallic paneling, once ideal for art exhibits, will be replaced with rich, wood paneling. Searight says displaying art collections was popular when the building was constructed, but building owners have found maintenance of collections to be problematic. Instead, the goal will be to make the building stand out as the art piece.

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