OMA has unveiled The Terminal, a 5,000-capacity Live Nation performance venue slated to open in November. The project is sited at the eastern end of POST Houston, the 550,000-sf historic redevelopment of the 1962 Barbara Jordan Post Office in downtown Houston that, upon completion, will also include restaurant, retail, and office space as well as a five-acre rooftop garden. Developed by Lovett Commercial and designed by OMA’s New York office in association with local firm Powers Brown Architecture, the project has been underway since 2019. The pandemic struck just as plans for the tri-level performance space were finalized, prompting a delay in the release of a number of bustling, hazy, laser light-filled renderings.
As shown in the visualizations, the design focuses primarily on creating a vibrant experience for attendees. Raked seating hovers above a large, flat general assembly floor that allows for various arrangements and scenography. The fixed seats are clad in fiberglass grating to promote transparency between the performance space and the underside nooks created by the tribune. OMA partner Jason Long likened these social spaces to “hanging out under the bleachers during a homecoming game.” This is consistent with the overall ambition of the project, which is to enliven and activate every corner of the venue, rather than pool all the excitement within the performance space.
The design achieves this by filtering attendees through a series of tailored social spaces, each boasting unique industrial materials, bright color schemes, and lighting systems. The lobby is laden with Texas references: Walls are lined with stainless steel grids, held in place by neon yellow cattle fence insulators to hang art and merchandise; a bar is wrapped in aluminized fabric heat shields, as a nod to NASA; and an old overhanging USPS spy tunnel (originally built above the mail-sorting floor to oversee operations) is lined with stadium-like lights reminiscent of high school football games. Beyond the lobby, a vibrant yellow stair shines through the translucent, double-height polycarbonate wall that separates the main space into two zones: circulatory, private, and intimate gathering spaces to the west, and the central void to the east. The stair connects at various audience levels and culminates in a hidden lounge with playful seating to facilitate more personal interactions. Come November, this funky set of secondary spaces will allow for a more varied live-event experience, which might serve as a nice stepping stone back into full-capacity life.