Gilbane Building Company Celebrates Groundbreaking of The Ion

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A historic renovation of an iconic building will be the centerpiece of emerging innovation district.

Members from Gilbane Building Company, Rice Management Company, Houston Mayor Sylverster Turner, Hines, Gensler Architects and SHoP Architects officially break ground on The Ion.

It’s the same kind of innovation and imagination that landed a man on the moon 50 years ago and lead to Houston becoming space city, now we are sprinting to become hashtag-Silicon bayou.

On Friday, July 19, Gilbane Building Company joined Rice Management Company, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, city leaders, Hines, Gensler Architects and SHoP Architects in celebrating the groundbreaking of The Ion. This historic renovation will transform a Sears, Roebuck & Company building that was built in 1939 and turn it into an innovation hub which consists of co-working, event, academic (classrooms and lecture rooms), restaurant and entertainment amenities.

"We are now entering a new frontier in becoming the home for the digital universe, a hub for innovation and imagination,” said Mayor Turner. "It’s the same kind of innovation and imagination that landed a man on the moon 50 years ago and lead to Houston becoming space city, now we are sprinting to become hashtag-Silicon bayou.”

The Ion will be the centerpiece of an up-and-coming innovation district as it brings the area’s entrepreneurs, corporate and academic communities together with collaborative spaces and programs. The building will retain some of the signature elements of its original art deco design such as the historic corners, glass block windows, decorative tilework and a three-sided storefront with architectural canopies – while new large windows will connect the open interior to the surrounding streetscape. A new central skylight will shower the building in natural sunlight and, from inside, provide unobstructed views across the ground floor.

“The Ion represents the dawning of a new era for innovation in Houston,” noted Ryan LeVasseur, Managing Director of Direct Real Estate at Rice Management Company. “The building’s official groundbreaking was not just a symbolic moment for the next-generation tech hub, but also a momentous occasion for the surrounding neighborhood, which stands to gain thousands of new tech jobs as The Ion transitions from an ambitiously inspired idea into a game-changing reality for the city’s entire start-up community.”

“Gilbane is thrilled to be selected as a partner on this transformation of a historic property and neighborhood in Houston and is looking forward to building valued relationships with Hines, Rice University, Gensler and SHoP”, says Scott Orr, Senior Vice President, Texas Business Unit Leader for Gilbane.

Construction has already begun and is scheduled to complete in early 2021.

About Gilbane Building Company
Gilbane provides a full slate of construction and facilities-related services – from pre-construction planning and integrated consulting capabilities to comprehensive construction management, general contracting, design-build and facility management services – for clients across various markets. Founded in 1873 and still a privately held, family-owned company, Gilbane has more than 45 office locations worldwide. For more information, visit

As one of Texas’ largest general building contractors, Gilbane has been fortunate to serve a wide variety of market sectors and clients since establishing a presence here in 1981. As general contractor, construction manager at risk, design/builder or program manager, Gilbane is proud to have had a part in helping Texas grow. Our dedication to successfully responding to the needs of our clients has led us to provide a blend of front-end driven construction management services with the delivery driven services of a builder.

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Lisa Michaud
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