Architectural Tours of Houston

We offer two different types of architectural tours of Houston. You will learn about the history of the building or structure, the architect, materials, styles, the usages over the years, symbolism, and the features on the buildings. We are glad to point out subtleties that would otherwise be missed.

Architecture consists of buildings and other physical structures. Great architecture is also great art. Great architects follow an adage coined by the great architect Louis Henry Sullivan (1856 – 1924) that “form follows function.” Another famous aphorism, this one by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is “Less is more,” although counterpoint to that is architect Robert Charles Venturi, Jr.’s saying, “Less is a bore.”

Great architects:

  • Work with a variety of building materials such as wood, brick, cement, stone, and glass.
  • Practice different styles such as art deco, post-modernism, prairie style, brutalism, et cetera.
  • Design in different genres such as private residences, public buildings, and governmental, religious, and business structures.
  • Are creative and visionaries.
  • Are environmentally and geographically aware and sensitive of their surroundings.
  • Also practice landscape architecture and landmark development for public use and appreciation of their beauty and significance. This can be fountains, ponds, water structures, gardens, green-space areas, monuments, and more.

Great architecture should satisfy three priciples:

  • Durability
  • Utility
  • Beauty

We offer the following architectural tours:

A. Downtown Tunnel and Architectural Tour

This tour is 2.5-hours without a lunch stop or 3.5-hours with a stop for lunch that goes through the tunnels of downtown Houston and into the buildings. This is also identified as Downtown Tunnel Tour A. We enter several historical buildings from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1970s, and 1980s. We stop about every 5 minutes. It is only available weekdays: Mondays through Fridays. The buildings and tunnels are closed on weekends. Monday through Thursday are the best days to go on this tour as one building is closed on Friday.

The timing is based on 1 to 19 people. Larger groups will require more time or we have to delete buildings as a walking tour only moves as fast as the slowest person. Larger groups also have more questions and more time is needed for bathroom breaks. We can also include an extra activity when one selects the longer tour.

The buildings and structures that are included on this tour, but limited to these are:

  • One Shell Plaza (1971) – 910 Louisiana Street. This was the tallest building in Houston from 1971 to 1974.
  • Architects John (1875 – 1954) and Drew Eberson’s (1904 – 1989) Mellie Esperson Building (1942) – 815 Walker Street
  • John Eberson’s Niels Esperson Building AKA the Wedding Cake Building (1927) – 808 Travis Street
  • Architect Alfred C. Finn’s (1883 – 1964) JP Morgan Chase Bank Building, formerly the Gulf Oil Building (1929) – 712 Main Street
  • Ioh Ming (IM) Pei’s (born 1917) JP Morgan Chase Tower, formerly the Texas Commerce Tower (1982) – 600 Travis Street. This is the tallest building in Texas with 75 floors and 1002 feet/305 meters.
  • Architect Philip Johnson’s (1906 – 2005) Pennzoil Place (1976) – 711 Louisiana Street
  • Philip Johnson’s Bank of America, formerly Republic Bank and Nations Bank (1983) – 700 Louisiana Street
  • Normal Lunch Stop: The food courts under the J. P. Morgan Chase Tower or Pennzoil Place.

Beginning and Ending Location:
All of the downtown daytime walking tours begin and end in the rotunda of City Hall, located at 901 Bagby Street, Houston Texas 77002. If an event is taking place, the tour will begin either outside of City Hall on the east side of the building where the reflecting pool is located or outside the Jesse H. Jones Central Library at 500 McKinney Street, Houston, Texas 77002, across the street from City Hall.

It has been our experience that about 25% of the people who contact us do not know what the word rotunda means. As used here and by City Hall, it is the large more-or-less square, not round, central area that can be used for receptions. It does not have a dome over it. It is enclosed with controlled ventilation.

Entering City Hall:
One can enter City Hall from either the west side Bagby Street entrance and go through a security check or from the east side by the reflecting pool and avoid security. One can also enter City Hall from the basement through a tunnel from a parking lot and go through security, possibly twice.

Starting Time:
Tours normally start at 10:00 AM, but because these are relatively short tours, we can be flexible. Let us know if you want to start at a different time. Because the tour is usually a minimum of 2.5 hours, the latest that you might want to start and to be able to see everything is 3:30 PM as the tunnels are normally closed by 6:00 PM. We can start after 3:30 PM, but the tour will be abridged.

Metered street parking is available on Walker Street on the north side of City Hall and McKinney Street on the south side of City Hall. Underground parking is available beneath Tranquility Park via Rusk Street between Bagby Street and Smith Street on the north side of City Hall. Use a fictitious address of 510 Rusk Street in a GPS to find the entrance. One can also park in the parking garage behind the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (HCFPA) that is diagonally located at 800 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002. The closest parking entrance is on Walker Street between Bagby Street and I-45. Use a fictitious address of roughly 620 Walker Street in a GPS to find this entrance.

Bathrooms in the tunnels are generally NOT open to the public. Use a bathroom before beginning the tour. We may walk 1.0 to 1.5 hours before a bathroom will be available. Public bathrooms are available in City Hall’s basement and in the libraries on McKinney Street, across from City Hall.

Wear comfortable shoes. Bring a sweater if you become cold easily. Some tunnels have excellent ventilation.

Bring a camera if you like to take photos. However, one cannot take photos in banks or the One Shell Plaza building.

Proper decorum is expected in professional buildings. Large groups should walk in pairs and stay to the right so other people can pass from behind and from the opposite direction. Private conversations should remain private. If people are going to talk amongst themselves, they should do so quietly, so as to not disrupt others, and to allow for other members to hear the tour guide.


This tour involves about 2.0 – 2.5 miles of walking. The average American walks at a speed of approximately 2 miles per hour on a flat service. This tour is NOT appropriate for anyone with walking limitations and mobility issues. Anyone who uses a cane, walker, and or wheelchair should NOT go on this tour. The tunnels are not all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible. We also go on elevators and escalators. If these are issues for anyone, do NOT go on this tour.

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B. Driving Architectural Tours

These tours can range from 2 to 10 hours. They start from downtown and can be conducted any day. Tours that go to Stafford, Sugar Land, and or La Porte usually take about 2.5 hours each. All tours with 5 or more hours have a lunch stop. These tours are mostly driving with stops for you to take photos at the different sites.

Until the 1970s, most major architects were local. However, since the 1970s, Houston has been the beneficiary of some of the greatest architects from the world to come here and leave their imprint on our cityscape.

A 2-hour tour covers Downtown and East Downtown (Eado). You will see structures designed by:

  • Daniel Burnham (1846 – 1912) – Scanlon Building (1909). Burnham was the first major international architect to practice in Houston.
  • Nicholas Clayton (1840 – 1916) – Annunciation Catholic Church (1871).
  • Ralph Adams Cram (1863 – 1942) – Julia B. Ideson Library (1924).
  • George Dickey (1840 – 19?).
  • Drew Eberson (1904 – 1989). He worked with his father on the Mellie Esperson Building.
  • John Eberson (1875 – 1954) – The Niles Esperson Building (1927) and Mellie Esperson Building (1942).
  • Joseph Finger (1887 – 1953).
  • Alfred Finn (1883 – 1964).
  • Ulrich Joseph Franzen (1921 – 2012) – Alley Theatre (1968).
  • Kenneth Franzheim (1890 – 1959) – 919 Milam (formerly the Bank of the Southwest and Bank One Center) (1956).
  • Eugene Thomas Heiner (1852 – 1901) – Houston Cotton Exchange (1884) and the W. L. Foley Dry Goods Building at 214 – 218 Travis Street (1889).
  • Philip Cortelyou Johnson (1906 – 2005) and John Burgee (1933 – Present) – Pennzoil Place (1976) and Bank of America (formerly RepublicBank Center and Nations Bank) (1983).
  • Ioh Ming (I. M.) Pei (1917 – Present) – J. P. Morgan Chase Tower (formerly the Texas Commerce Tower) (1982), 601 Travis Street (1982), and a Motor Drive Through Bank (1983).
  • Muhammad (Moe) Nasr (1940s/1950s circa – Present) – Heritage Plaza (formerly the Texaco Heritage Plaza and the Chevron Heritage Plaza (1987).
  • Cesar Pelli (1926 – Present) – Chevron South (formerly Enron South) (2002).
  • John Calvin Portman, Jr. (1924 – Present) – Hyatt Regency Houston (1972).
  • Robert A. M. Stern (1939 – Present) – Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (along with Morris Architects) (2002).
  • Richard Allen – Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (1875).
  • Ollie J. Lorehn – the original Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (1911).
  • Silas McBee – Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral (1893).

You will also see skyscrapers that were designed by prominent firms such as:

  • (William Wayne) Caudill (1914 – 1983) (John Miles) Rowlett (1914 – 1978) (Wallie Eugene) Scott (Jr.) (1921 – 1989) (CRS) – Jones Hall (1966), Bayou Place (formerly the Albert Thomas Convention Center (1967), Fulbright Tower (3 Houston Center) (1982), and LyondellBassell Tower (1 Houston Center) (1978).
  • (Guy) Jackson (1947 – Present) & (Jeffrey D.) Ryan (1945 – Present) Architects – One Park Place (2009) and Market Square Tower Apartments (2017) – This latter 40 story tall building has the glass sky pool that extends 10 feet hovering over Preston Street at a height of 500 feet. It is the tallest residential building in Houston.
  • (Herman F.) Lloyd (19? – 989) (Arthur Evan) Jones (circa 1925 – Present) (Benjamin E.) Brewer (Jr.) (1932 – 2003) and Associates – Three Allen Center AKA 333 Clay Street (1980) and Four Allen Center AKA 1400 Smith Street AKA Enron AKA Chevron North (1983).
  • (John Lawrence) Mauran (1866 – 1933), Russell & (William C.) Crowell (1871 – 1951) and later Alfred Finn – The Rice (1913) and (1924).
  • Morris Architects – 1600 Smith Street (formerly Continental Center I and Cullen Center Plaza) (1984), the Wortham Theater Center by Eugene Aubry of the firm (1987), and the Marriott Marquis with its lazy Texas river on the roof (2016).
  • Populous, formerly HOK Sport Venue Event – creation of Minute Maid Park (2000) formerly Enron Field, The Ballpark at Union Station, and Astros Field, the Toyota Center (2003), the BBVA Compass Stadium (2012).
  • (Marshall Robert) Sanguinet (1859 – 1936) & (Carl Gordon) Staats (1871 – 1928) – Franklin Lofts (formerly Lomas & Nettleton Building and First National Bank Building) (1904), Paul Building (formerly the Hoffman Building, Turnbow Building, and Republic Building) (1907), Carter Building (1910), and The Sam Houston Hotel (along with Wyatt Cephas Hedrick (1888 – 1964) and Gottlieb) (formerly the Alden Hotel and The Sam) (1924).
  • (Louis) Skidmore (1897 – 1962), (Nathaniel) Owings (1903 – 1984) & (John O.) Merrill (1896 – 1975) (SOM) – One Shell Plaza (1971), Enterprise Plaza AKA 1100 Louisiana (1980), and the Wells Fargo Plaza (formerly Allied Bank Plaza and First Interstate Bank Plaza) (1982).
  • (Whitney) Warren (1864 – 1943) and (Charles Delevan) Wetmore (1866 – 1941) – The original Union Station (1911) and the Texas Company Building (1915).
  • Welton Becket (1902 – 1969) and Associates – abandoned ExxonMobil Building (formerly the Exxon Building and the Humble Building) (1963).
  • Ziegler Cooper Architects – Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (2008).

You will also see buildings for whom the architects are unknown or unidentified such as:

  • 1823 Old Place.
  • 1847 Kellum Noble home.
  • 1850 Nichols-Rice-Cherry House.
  • 1860 La Carafe (formerly the Kennedy Bakery and a trading depot).
  • 1910 Harris County Courthouse.
  • 1987, 2003, 2016 George R. Brown Convention Center.

Lastly, you will see a number of parks by the renowned Lauren Griffith (circa 1950s to the Present) Associates, including

  • Central Library Plaza (2017). This has been redesigned to host more activities and events.
  • Discovery Green Park (2008). This park has many sections to it that can serve different ages. These include the Anheuser-Busch Stage, Jones Lawn, The Brown Foundation Promenade, Kinder Lake, the Gateway Fountain, Hagstette Putting Green, two dog runs, Maconda’s Grove, The Grove, The Lakehouse, Jean Dubuffet’s Monument au Fantome, Margo Sawyer’s Synchronicity of Color, Doug Hollis’s Listening Vessels and Mist Tree, and more. This park was designed along with George Hargreaves (1952 – Present)) Associates.
  • Market Square Park (2010). This park has James Surls’s Point of View statue, water tableaus, a Greek restaurant, gargoyles, a 9/11 memorial to a local woman who was killed, a dog walk area, and more.
  • Sesquicentennial Park (1989). This park has statues of George H. W. Bush and James Baker, III by Chas Fagan (1966 – Present), panels about the life of George Bush designed by Willy Wang (circa 1940 – Present), and the Seven Wonders statues by local artist Melvin Chin (1951 – Present).

During weekdays, you will have opportunities to go inside many of these buildings. However, keep in mind that getting out to walk around and or take photos is time consuming. If you want to get out frequently, you should schedule a 3-hour downtown architectural driving tour.

You have many opportunities to add additional hours with a variety of themes and different areas of Houston.

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A 1-hour addition of Neartown and the River Oaks area.

Neartown is bounded by Bagby Street to the east, Allen Parkway to the north, South Shepherd Drive to the west, and I-69/US 59 to the south. It included neighborhoods of Cherryhurst, Courtland Place, Hyde Park, Montrose, Vermont Commons, Mandell Place, and Winlow Place.

In Neartown, you will see:

  • The 42 floor AIG America Tower (1983) – designed by Lloyd Jones Brewer and Associates.
  • Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1952).
  • Byzantine Fresco Chapel (1997) – designed by Francois de Menil (circa 1945 – Present).
  • Chapel of St. Basil (1997) – designed by Philip Johnson.
  • Cy Twombly Gallery (1995) – designed by Renzo Piano.
  • Dan Flavin Installation in Richmond Hall (1930).
  • Houston Center for Photography.
  • Menil Collection (1987) designed by Renzo Piano (1939 – Present).
  • The River Oaks Shopping Center highlighted by the 1939 River Oaks Theatre. This is the oldest operating movie theater in Houston. The architects Stayton Nunn and Milton McGinty designed the shopping center, in 1937.
  • Rothko Chapel (1971) – designed by Philip Johnson, Howard Barnstone (1923 – 1987) and Eugene Aubry
  • University of St. Thomas (1947) including the Link-Lee Mansion (1912) – designed by Sanguinet, Staats, and Barnes.
  • Watercolor Art Society – Houston (WAS-H) (2006).

River Oaks is bounded by South Shepherd Drive on the east, Buffalo Bayou on the north, Willowick Road on the west, Westheimer Road and San Felipe Street on the south, and Timber Lane on the west side.

In River Oaks, you will see some of the homes of past and present leaders of Houston and Texas as well as businessmen and women and clergy. Some of the major local residential architects include:

  • Birdsall Parmenas Briscoe (1876 – 1971)
  • (Frederick) MacKie, (Jr.) (1905 – 1984) & (Karl) Kamrath (1911 – 1988)
  • Hugo Victor Neuhaus, Jr. (1915 – 1987)
  • John Staub (1892 – 1981)
  • William Ward Watkin (1886 – 1952)

In the River Oaks area, you will see some other impressive structures:

  • The Huntingdon (1984) – designed by Fred Talbott Wilson (1912 – 1987). This 34-story tall structure is one of the most expensive condominiums in Texas.
  • River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics (1910 and 1939) – remodeled by John Staub.
  • Prominent churches.

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A 1-hour addition of the Galleria area, Uptown Park area, the Tanglewood area, Rice Military District, and Camp Logan District.

The Uptown Business District is bounded by the I-610 West Loop on the east, Woodway Drive to the north, Yorktown Street on the west, and Richmond Avenue on the south. It includes the Galleria and Uptown Park areas.

In the Galleria Area, you will see:

  • The Galleria (1970, 1976, 1986, and 2003) – This is one of the largest shopping malls in the United States and the largest in the South.
  • 2425 West Loop South (1980) – designed by I. M. Pei.
  • The Hilton Post Oak (1982) – designed by I. M. Pei.
  • Post Oak Central (1973) – designed by Philip Johnson.
  • The Williams Tower (formerly the Transco Tower) (1983) – designed by Philip Johnson. At 64 floors, this is the tallest building in the US outside a downtown area.
  • Gerald D. Hines (1925 – Present) Waterwall Park (formerly the Transco Waterwall and Williams Waterwall) (1985) – designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. This is the most photographed site in Houston.

In the Uptown Park area, you will see:

  • Camden Post Oak Apartments (2003). It has 33 stories.
  • Four Leaf Towers (1982) – designed by Cesar Pelli. These are two 40-story condominiums.
  • Four Oaks Place (1990s) – designed by Cesar Pelli. This includes the 25-story BHP Billiton.
  • Marathon Oil Tower (1983) – designed by Pierce Goodwin Alexander & Linville. It has 41 stories. This is the third tallest building in the US outside a downtown area.
  • St. Martin’s Church (2004) – designed by Jackson & Ryan Architects. This looks like an Anglican church. It is the largest Episcopal church in North America. The spires are 188 feet/57 meters high.
  • San Felipe Plaza (1984) – designed by SOM. It has 46 stories. This is the second tallest building in the US outside a downtown area.

Tanglewood is bounded by Post Oak Drive on the east, Memorial Drive on the north, Chimney Rock on the west, and San Felipe Street on the south. In Tanglewood, you will see:
A collection of some of the best examples of Mid-Century Modern Homes in the United States and 1980s to the present McMansions.

The Rice Military District is bounded by Shepherd Drive on the east side, Washington Avenue on the north side, Westcott Street on the west side and Memorial Drive on the south side. In the Rice Military District, you will see:

  • The Beer Can House (1974 circa).
  • The Gargoyle House/Tempietto Zeni (1990 created). This is the home of the architect Frank K. Zeni (1944 – Present)
  • The Spear House (2010s).

The Camp Logan District is bounded by Westcott Street on the east side, Arnot Street on the north side, Crestwood Drive on the west side, and Memorial Drive on the south side. In the Camp Logan District, you will see:

  • Old 1930s bungalows. Some are cute and well-maintained. Some are falling apart.
  • 2000s mansions with beautiful landscaping.

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A 1-hour addition to include a lunch stop. Everyone pays for his/her own lunch.

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A 1-hour addition to include the Greenway Plaza area, Highland Village, and the River Oaks District.

This area is bounded by Kirby Drive on east, Westheimer Road on the north, I-610 on the west, and US59/I-69 on the south. This area is famous for its commercial and religious institutions.

Greenway Plaza was first opened in 1973. Developer Kenneth Schnitzer (1929 – 1999) viewed it as a potential second downtown. It occupies 52 acres. Some earlier buildings were incorporated into this complex. The buildings range from 11 to 31 stories, creating its own independent skyline. It encompasses:

  • One Greenway Plaza (1969).
  • Two Greenway Plaza (1969).
  • Three Greenway Plaza (1971).
  • Four Greenway Plaza (1975).
  • Five Greenway Plaza (1973).
  • Six Greenway (1972). This has the Doubletree Hotel, formerly known as the Stouffer Hotel and the Renaissance Hotel. It has 20 floors.
  • Seven Greenway – This is the central plant.
  • Eight Greenway Plaza (1980).
  • Nine Greenway Plaza (1978).
  • Eleven Greenway Plaza (1979).
  • Twelve Greenway Plaza (1981).
  • Thirteen Greenway (2006) – Tony’s Restaurant is located here.
  • Fourteen and Fifteen Greenway (1980 and 1981). This was formerly the Plaza Condominiums.
  • Lakewood Church (1975) – designed by Lloyd Jones Brewer. This was formerly the Summit (1975 – 1998) and later the Compaq Center (1998 – 2003). The Houston Rockets moved out after the 2002 – 2003 season. Lakewood Church moved into it in 2005.

Highland Village (HV) has upscale stores and restaurants on each side of Westheimer Road between a train track on the west end and Weslayan Street/Willowick Road on the east end. It was first developed in the 1950s.

The River Oaks District is on the north side of Westheimer Road between Westcreek Lane on the west side and West Lane on the east side. It opened in the fall of 2015. It promotes itself as a luxury area with elite stores, restaurants, and a movie theater.

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A 1-hour addition of West University Place, Bellaire, the Rice University, south side stadiums, The Texas Medical Center, Hermann Park areas, and Museum District.

  • West University Place – a residential home designed to look like the mask of Darth Vadar from Star Wars.
  • Bellaire – A house designed to look like a plantation with a topiary of a dragon as well as an area of nouveau mansions with beautiful landscaping, but close to each other.
  • Rice University and surrounding areas
  • James L. Autry House (1921) – designed by Cram & (Frank W.) Ferguson (1861 – 1926) and William Ward Watkin.
  • Lovett Hall and the campus master plan of Rice University (1912) – designed by Ralph Adams Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson.
  • Brochstein Pavilion (2008) – designed by Thomas Phifer (1953 – Present).
  • Skyspace (2012) – designed by James Turrell (1943 – Present).
  • South Side Stadiums
  • The Astrodome AKA Harris County Domed Stadium, Houston Astrodome, Reliant Astrodome, and NRG Astrodome (1965) – designed by Hermon Lloyd & W. B. Morgan Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson, and Praeger-Kavanagh-Waterbury. This was the first domed stadium in the world.
  • NRG Stadium (formerly Reliant Stadium (2002) – designed by HOK Sport with Lockwood Andrews Newman and Hermes Architects.
  • Texas Medical Center (TMC) area
  • The Spires (1983) – designed by Henry Wang. It is the tallest condominiums in Houston at 40 stories.
  • Variety of hospitals, research institutions, and medical schools including one that looks somewhat like a ship (UT MD Anderson building from the 2010s).
  • The original Hermann Hospital (1925). This Spanish-style building is hidden and encased by the larger Memorial Hermann Hospital that was erected in 1999.
  • Baylor College of Medicine (BCM)’s Roy and Lillie Cullen Building (1943) – this was the first building erected in the Texas Medical Center.
  • O’Quinn Medical Towers (1990) – designed by Cesar Pelli along with Kendall/Heaton Associates Inc. This is the tallest hospital in the United States with 29 floors. It has what look like two hypodermic needles at the top. This is part of St. Luke’s Hospital.
  • John P. McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons (2002) – designed by Jackson & Ryan Architects. It has two waterfalls. This is part of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
  • Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (2010) – designed by Perkins & Will. This is part of Texas Children’s Hospital.
  • The building blocks that spell out Texas Children’s Hospital.
  • Texas Children’s Hospital Women’s Pavilion halo (2012) – designed by FKP Architects.
  • Hermann Park areas
  • Miller Outdoor Theatre (1968) – designed by Eugene Werlin & Associates.
  • McGovern Centennial Gardens (2014) – designed by (Douglas) Hoerr (Peter) Schaudt (1959 – 2015).
  • The Parklane Condominiums (1983) – designed by Lloyd Jones Brewer. This is the second tallest condominium building in Houston with 35 stories.
  • Museum District
  • The Caroline Weiss Law Building of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) (1924) – designed by William Ward Watkin.
  • Cullinan Hall (1958) and the Brown Pavilion (1974) of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) – designed by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe (1886 – 1969). The latter was built posthumously.
  • Children’s Museum of Houston (1992) – designed by husband and wife Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. (1925 – Present) and Denise Scott Brown (1931 – Present.
  • Asia Society Texas Center (2011) – designed by Yoshio Taniguchi (1937 – Present). It has a pond on the roof.
  • Contemporary Art Museum Houston (CAM) (1972) – designed by Gunnar Birkerts (1925 – Present). It is a distinctive aluminum looking building.
  • Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) (1996). Its design’s purpose is to invoke images of a concentration camp.
  • Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden (1986) – designed by Isamu Noguchi (1904 – 1988).

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2.5-hour additions involving the cities of either:

  1. Stafford

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir opened in 2004. It is a magnificent architectural Hindu house of worship that was built without any nails or screws. It was built with tongue and groove fittings. The exterior is of Turkish limestone and the interior is of Italian marble. It looks like it was lifted out of India and placed here. The grounds with landscaping, fountains, and ponds are also lovely. One cannot take photos inside the temple and one has to take his/her shoes off before entering it. Allow 2.5 hours to drive round-trip to Stafford and to tour the site. It is free to tour, but one should be willing to give a small donation to the temple.

  1. Sugar Land
    1. The Vietnamese Buddhist Center with its 72 feet tall statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat. It is one of the tallest statues in the United States.
    2. Life-size bronze statue of two teenage girls taking selfie photos.

Stafford and Sugar Land can be combined together for about a 3.0-hour tour addition.

  1. La Porte

The 1939 San Jacinto Monument. This is the tallest obelisk in the United States at 567 feet. It is taller than the Washington Monument because it has a star of Texas on the top. This was a Democratic New Deal project. It was built to commemorate Texas’s victory over Mexico on April 21, 1836 that resulted in Texas independence and ultimately the Republic of Texas. Allow 1.5 hours to drive round-trip to La Porte and tour the site or 2.5 hours if one wants to go to the observation deck and watch the movie. The grounds and museum are free to tour, but the observation deck and movie have a charge.

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