Project Recap: Ion Houston

September 23, 2021by Admin

The Ion is 226,000 square feet of space located south of downtown Houston, in what was previously an old Sears building. It describes itself as a place that “fosters a community and culture where corporate innovators, academic partners, community partners, startups, and entrepreneurs come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.”

Future plans for the property include attracting permanent tenants, ideally those looking to obtain commercial office, retail or co-working space, with the idea of becoming a hub of innovation. Rice University owns the space and has implemented programming to spark collaborative opportunities and partnerships between students, businesses, and members of the Houston community. Plans are in place to add additional buildings in the future. The Ion will eventually become a total innovation and technology center, a new frontier in the Houston tech scene.

Scope: Landscape and irrigation subdrainage, hardscape (pavers), wood decks and site furnishings.


  • The interior of the building was gutted and renovated; future tenants will determine their own unique finishings in each of their spaces. Gilbane was responsible for renovating the exterior of the building, as well as a few finishing touches inside.
  • The property is home to several Live Oak trees that Rice University was adamant about keeping. Plans for the property included the addition of decking. A normal deck would need drains, but because of the Live Oaks, we used more than 200 helical pips (large pipes with corkscrews at the bottom drilled into the ground) to create a smaller footprint around the tree. A solid steel Trellis was installed. Due to the weight of the parts of the structure, a crane was used to set each beam.
  • A Channel drain was added to collect rain and drain it into cisterns located under pavers. These cisterns act as a holding tank to collect stormwater and slowly release it over time to mitigate flooding.


General Contractor: Gilbane

Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations

B&D Project Manager: Kelly Carmouche

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