“Testimony to the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American Government.” So read the famous Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture that the Kennedy administration established for official buildings, a resolution which architects translated into the brutalist language then in vogue, giving rise to a series of solemn edifices througout the United States. Among them, the main post office of Houston – a strategic point in the South – was designed as a ‘Texas-size’ modern logistical complex, disproportionate in these times of agonizing postal services.
Abandoned for almost a decade, it was injected with new life and is now a cultural hub accommodating a large variety of work and leisure programs around three double-height voids within the grid of the original structure. In each of the resulting atriums, a monumental staircase – differing in scheme and material from the ones in the other voids – provides the connection between levels and encourages interaction among users. More than providing ways to go up and down the premises, flights duplicate, crisscross, and interweave, forming meeting points under large skylights.