Situated at the northern edge of downtown Houston, the historic Barbara Jordan Post Office – an iconic modernist industrial facility and the City’s primary postal distribution center – closed in 2015 as part of an effort to modernize the postal delivery process. In 2018, Lovett Commercial, a local developer, introduced ambitious plans to reposition the massive facility as POST Houston, a mixed-use development honoring the building’s history while becoming a multifaceted cultural hub for one of the most diverse cities in the country.
Hoerr Schaudt was engaged to collaborate with the developer and the project’s design architect, OMA, on the planning and design of the garden roof that serves as the crowning element of the POST project. The building’s green roof or Skylawn, as it is called, has become one of Houston’s most dynamic and unique outdoor settings. Comprising five acres atop the former post office building, the project is the largest rooftop park in Texas and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the city’s iconic skyline. The roofscape plays host to an array of functions including restaurants, event spaces, gardens, and will soon add an operating one-acre urban farm.
As a nod to the cultural diversity of Houston, Skylawn was conceived as a collection of garden rooms that celebrate the range of landscape typologies and ecologies endemic to the southeast Texas region. Visitors to the space can experience exuberant horticulture manifest in an arid garden, a woodland, and a tropical water garden. Designed to contrast the rigid frame of the modernist building upon which it sits, the artful forms of the rooftop garden frame spaces with sinuous curves and act as a counterpoint to the orthogonal roof and pavilions. Visitors to the rooftop are immersed in an evolving series of landscapes that unfold when moving from room to room.
Beyond serving as a hub for entertainment and leisure, Skylawn at POST Houston is a high-performance, sustainable landscape contributing to the successful repositioning of the facility. By converting much of the hard-surfaced roof into a sponge-like garden, the rooftop combats flooding by reducing stormwater runoff into neighboring Buffalo Bayou. This greener landscape helps mitigate the urban heat island effect while creating acres of habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.