Ray+Hollington Former Offices | Houston, Texas

Adaptive reuse and renovation of a former cafeteria designed in 1949, offering an opportunity to investigate the relationships between the past and present and the original function and the new

This project is an adaptive reuse and renovation of a former two-story cafeteria into RHA’s office and studio. Located on Main Street in Houston’s Museum District, the building, which was originally designed by MacKie and Kamrath Architects in 1949, suffered numerous poorly designed interior modifications before becoming a derelict property in the early 1990s. RHA was faced with the challenge of creating the new office space while preserving the rich architectural history of the existing building. The design strategy revolved around updating and supplementing the interior spaces while restoring the exterior to its original state.

Remodeling the interior and the insertion of a new function presented RHA with the opportunity to investigate the relationships between the past and present and the original function and the new. The main aspects of the original interior were restored including the terrazzo floors and stairs, the mezzanine and the ceiling. Opening up the central two-story hall and positioning the workstations along its length allowed for the reoccupation of what once was the grand dining room in a way that was commensurate with the original function. To further this connection, a long layout table was inserted into the middle of the existing terrazzo floor. The refurbishing of the large L-shaped elements that frame the volume and define the structural bays established a module that informed the downstairs layout. The building lobby, which now serves the remodeled suites behind the great hall, necessitated the reorientation of the original entrance from Main Street to the entry off the parking. A large frameless window maintains the visual connection to the street and offers a dioramic view into the space as well as out to the city beyond.

New walls are punctuated by saturated color while the original walls are rendered in neutral muted tones. The red wall flanking Main Street, which rises to the second floor ceiling, was used to visually anchor the new within the old and to promote a dialogue between the two.


  • 2004 Interior Architecture Merit Award, American Institute of Architects—Houston
  • 2003 Good Brick Award, Greater Houston Preservation Alliance
  • 2003 Historic Rehabilitation Award, Preservation Texas

Recognition, H.R. No. 1358

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 78th Texas Legislature hereby congratulate Ray+Hollington Architects on the receipt of a Greater Houston Preservation Alliance 2003 Good Brick Award and commend the members of the firm for their work in preserving the unique architectural heritage of their city; . . .

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