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World-famous architect shares inspiration behind 609 Main in Houston downtown.

Just like he and his team designed Exxon Mobil's campus with Yale and Rice universities in mind, Jon Pickard drew inspiration for 609 Main, a 1,050,000-square-foot trophy tower that Hines is developing in downtown Houston, from Pennzoil Place.

"It's not by accident that you can see respect being paid to Pennzoil Place in some composition strategies we've employed at 609 Main," said Pickard, principal of Connecticut-based architecture firm Pickard Chilton. Click through the slideshow to see new interior and exterior renderings of 609 Main.

The 36-story Pennzoil Place, also developed by Hines, inspired 609 Main's striking architectural lines, best seen in the tower's base that will ascend upward and outward throughout its first several floors. Pennzoil Place is one of the Houston skylines most recognizable towers. Designed by famed architect Philip Johnson, the two towers that make up Pennzoil Place can almost serve as optical illusions based on where they're being viewed from.

Unlike some major office projects, 609 Main was designed without an anchor tenant in mind. Instead of drafting designs with a specific company's operational needs, Pickard and the 609 Main design team drew guidance from successful, universally-appealing office projects.

He said he hopes 609 Main's tenants are "inspired" by the building's design, and that Pickard Chilton created a "really transformational" workplace for the modern employee.

"There’s no question – in the case of 609 Main, I would argue that my inspiration on that was … the building that really propelled Hines to be the organization that it is: the creation of Pennzoil Place," Pickard said. "So, we looked at that carefully, and I think Pennzoil (Place) helps to define modern Houston. We really wanted to have a conversation with that building."

609 Main is expected to be completed in early 2017. Two tenants have inked preleases at 609 Main so far. Chicago-based United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) inked a prelease for 225,000 square feet, and the law firm of Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis preleased 62,000 square feet on the top two-and-a-half floors of the building.

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