Clayton Library is located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District. The original 1917 Clayton House, designed by architect Birdsall Briscoe, sits on an entire city block. By 2005 the buildings were in such disrepair that only the ground floor of the main house was safe for public use.
The renovation fulfilled the bequest of the property to the City of Houston for use as a library while preserving the buildings and grounds as a historical piece of the Midtown neighborhood. GSMA worked with the City of Houston, Clayton Library Friends, Houston Public Library, and the Texas Historical Commission on the renovations and additions to three buildings, along with the redesign of the site and landscaping.
The main house now contains library book stacks while the guest and carriage houses accommodate the offices of the Houston Public Library Foundation and a large meeting room, respectively. Restrained interventions preserve the integrity of the original buildings while muted colors and a simple material palette update the spaces for their new uses. The modern gestures — notably the meeting room added at the original garage — are functional and minimal, defined by simple volumes expressed in white brick that mirror the rhythms of the façade and echo its features.
The grounds serve as a neighborhood park and as a Southern Heritage Garden: all the plantings were popular and available in Houston in the 1920s. The house is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, and the renovation is LEED Silver®.
“The renewed Clayton Library is an amenity to enhance Houston’s cultural center in one of the city’s densest urban neighborhoods. The pace of redevelopment in the area will soon make this building a precious remnant of the city’s and one remarkable family’s past.” – ULI Juror Comment
Urban Land Institute 2010 Houston Development of Distinction Awards Finalist
Preservation Houston 2010 Good Brick Award
Preservation Houston 2009 President’s Award for Clayton Family
Houston Business Journal 2009 Landmark Award for Historic Renovation & Public/Private Partnership Finalist
Real Estate and Construction Review 2009-2010 Green Building of America Award
City of Houston Mayor’s Green Building Tour 2010
Rice Design Alliance Architecture Tour 2003
AIA Houston Chapter: Architecture Center Houston Public/Service Architecture for Everyone, October 2010
AIA Houston Chapter: Architecture Center “Green Works Houston” with USGBC Houston Chapter, 2007
City of Houston: Discovery Green “Green Works Houston,” AIA Houston with USGBC Houston Chapter, 2007
Houston Architectural Guide, 3rd Edition, AIA Houston, 2012
Cite 81, Spring 2010, “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, The Clayton Library Rehabilitation” by Nicola Springer
Southwest Real Estate & Construction Review: Green Success Stories Edition, 2009-2010
Houston Chronicle, 2 March 2009, “Journeying through time: Clayton center puts those from the present in touch with the past”
Houston Chronicle, February 2009, “Saving the City’s Treasures”
Business Journal, 14 December 2007, “Historic center for family tree research growing into ‘green’ era,” by Mary Ann Azevedo [Full PDF text]