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EB Cape


E.B. Cape Center for Public Works Excellence

Houston, Texas

City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering

Willis Bricker Cannady, Inc., Architects

Completion Date
October 1997

Gross Square Footage
29,000 GSF

The E.B. Cape Center for Public Works Excellence in Houston, refutes the idea that fiscal responsibility equals visual timidity. The idea was to create a building that made a clear statement about permanence while remaining economical and efficient. The 27,000 sf facility was built with $4 million financed from Houston's water and sewer enterprise funds. The center serves as offices, classrooms, training centers and lecture auditoriums for the training of the City of Houston Public Works Department. Here current and future employees will go to train and perfect their skills as professionals in the public works field. Everything from how to scale a water tower to education programs such as management training, drug intervention, customer service, and computer advancement will be open to both public works employees and those who aspire to be such. In addition, college level courses will be offered in cooperation with local universities as well as courses in mechanical, equipment, and technical training and research. Safety programs such as defensive driving, CPS confined spaces entry and hazardous materials handling are also included. Also on the site is a 2,000 sf vehicle training building; other special training facilities include underground areas that replicate storm sewers for training firefighters and other emergency and maintenance personnel.

The center appears from the exterior to be a single monumental, brick-clad volume, its rigid rectilinear geometry interrupted only by a silo-like metal structure that anchors one edge. In fact, the building is U-shaped, with the circular drum sitting at the open end of the U; the arms of the U wrap around a central courtyard. The project is cooled by a thermal storage system.

In a move to further spotlight the importance of public works and educate the community, the center also houses an exhibit of historical artifacts from Houston's infrastructure. Included are items such as old pumps, gauges, meters, fire alarm boxes, manhole covers, maps and photographs. Exhibits will be arranged around the building on plinths, terraces on exterior walls and display cases in the gallery spaces.

The E.B. Cape Center is the prototype Public Works Building to be constructed throughout the United States and is truly a landmark.



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