Houston, Texas, the most populated city in Texas, benefits from the construction of the Hilton Americas. Strategically located adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center, this Green-Seal-certified hotel provides downtown with 1,200 guest rooms and 91,500 square feet of technologically advanced meeting space.
In 2000, the City Council created the Houston Convention Center Hotel Corporation, a nonprofit organization, with a mandate to build the convention center hotel. After breaking ground in September 2001, the project reached substantial completion in November 2003. The $200 million, 24-story hotel totals over 1.2 million square feet and comprises three towers of guestrooms wrapping around the centrally located ballroom structure in a C-shape. Besides 1,200 guestrooms, a grand ballroom (39,000 square feet), a junior ballroom (26,000 square feet), meeting rooms, and public areas, the center houses restaurants, a health spa, and fitness facilities.
Several different structural systems were implemented in this building. The first five levels constitute the “podium” floors. Excluding the grand ballroom roof, the podium structural system is a wide-module pan and joist construction. The wide-module joists are 6-inches wide by 24-inches deep, spaced at 6 feet on center, spanning 28 feet. They are supported on 42-by-24-inch beams, which span 25 feet 8 inches. Supporting the grand ballroom floor above the 160-by-168-foot column-free junior ballroom are two, 2 foot 6 inch-wide-by-17 foot 9 inch-deep post-tensioned girders, spaced 56 feet apart and spanning 160 feet.
Starting on the sixth level, the guestroom tower floors are 8-inch thick post-tensioned concrete flat plate, using a 5,000-psi concrete mix. This framing system is the most economical for accommodating the 28-foot-by-25-foot 8-inch exterior bays (with a 10-foot corridor bay), while allowing 9-foot 6-inch floor to floor heights to minimize the structure’s overall height. A pour strip was required in the center leg of the C-shaped tower configuration, creating two L-shaped segments. This typical construction practice was required to accommodate shrinkage due to the 423-foot length of the building in one direction. In order to create additional space for the lobby areas below the guestroom towers, two interior guestroom columns were transferred to a single column via a V-shaped transfer column located below the sixth level.
The lateral force resisting system consists primarily of cast-in-place concrete shear walls, varying from 12- to 18-inches thick, located around the elevator and stair cores. A three-bay exterior moment frame is also provided in the southwest corner of the tallest (west) guestroom wing, due to lack of space for another shear wall. At least two shear wall groups were located in the L-segment, providing adequate lateral resistance prior to the pour-strip closure. The shear walls, as well as the columns, used concrete strengths of 7,000 to 5,000 psi as the vertical elements progressed up the structure.
Reinforced concrete framing played a key role in the success of this project.
“Concrete is the typical preferred structural material for hotel projects due to rigidity, cost, and superior acoustical attributes,” said Sam Crawford, project manager for Gensler.
Using concrete construction helped showcase the talents of the Houston design and construction community, which the owner wanted to incorporate. The timely completion of the Hilton Americas allowed for full occupancy while the city hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
Houston Convention Center Hotel Corp.
Hines Interests Limited Partnership, Houston, Texas
Gensler, Houston, Texas
ARQ, Miami, Florida
CBM Engineers, Houston, Texas
Turner Construction Company, Houston, Texas
United Forming, Inc. Houston, Texas
Texas Industries (TXI), Houston, Texas