Thermal Energy Corporation - TECO
Houston, Texas

The Thermal Energy Corporation supplies steam, chilled water and power services to the Texas Medical Center in Houston. To facilitate the growth of the world’s largest medical center, TECO built the largest system of this type in the country. Jackson & Ryan Architects provided architectural support for the 8.8 million gallon storage tank and the east chiller building.

The distinctive pattern of the wall for the cooling towers has tripartite symbolism: it refers to the DNA helix in honor of The Medical Center genome research; it recalls the symbol of the caduceus, the intertwined snakes often associated with medicine; and it suggests ascension of vapor rising through cooling towers. The placement of every brick in this 60’ x 300’ wall had to be perfect to achieve the execution of this precise design. The intertwined pattern is constructed with 8" x 16" black and white glazed block located in the TECO standard filed of modular beige brick.

After exploring several options for cladding the tower, it was decided to use conventional insulation cladding in an unconventional manner. By varying the proportion of stripes and with the selective use of the black panels to imply shadow, a suggestion of a three-dimensional kinetic facade that compliments the adjacent brick DNA wall.

Our first project for TECO was the design and construction administration of the flood wall surrounding the TECO campus,  which has been successful during all of Houston’s catastrophic water events with no flooding of the facility.

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