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Houston History: A look back at the Prudential Building before it was imploded

Houston Main building (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)
Houston Main building (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)

HOUSTON – In 1952, an iconic landmark was constructed on the 1100 block of Holcombe Boulevard. Known as the Prudential Insurance Co. Building, the 18-story structure was the first high-rise corporate office building outside downtown.

Houston Main building (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)
Houston Main building (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)

Designed by Kenneth Franzheim, the Prudential Building was constructed of Indiana limestone and natural Texas Granite. However, the architecture wasn’t the only thing that captured the attention of many Houstonians. The building had tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool and covered parking for its employees.

Kenneth Franzheim portrait
Kenneth Franzheim portrait (Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University)

In 1975, the building was acquired by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the high-right became known as the Houston Main Building.

HMB's top includes a louvered design and large blank square that featured a neon rock of gibraltar. MD Anderson convered up the icon and removed the long vertical letters that spelled out "Prudential" (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)
HMB's top includes a louvered design and large blank square that featured a neon rock of gibraltar. MD Anderson convered up the icon and removed the long vertical letters that spelled out "Prudential" (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)

Of course, with any historical landmark comes maintenance and upkeep. That wasn’t the case for the 50-year-old building. New plans were set to construct a four-building medical campus in place of the Houston Main Building.

In January 2012, the 1950s architecture was imploded.

Contractors retained by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center imploded the Houston Main Building (HMB) located at 1100 Holcombe on Sun., Jan. 8 at 7:52 a.m., to provide for eventual new clinical facilities. HMB was opened by Prudential Insurance Co. in 1952 as its southwest regional office. At the time, the 20-story office building was Houston's tallest building outside downtown. In 1974, The University of Texas System purchased the 500,000 square-foot facility, which included 22.4 acres of land and a surface lot containing hundreds of parking spaces. The University of Texas System officially named the building the Houston Main Building in 1980. (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)
Contractors retained by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center imploded the Houston Main Building (HMB) located at 1100 Holcombe on Sun., Jan. 8 at 7:52 a.m., to provide for eventual new clinical facilities. HMB was opened by Prudential Insurance Co. in 1952 as its southwest regional office. At the time, the 20-story office building was Houston's tallest building outside downtown. In 1974, The University of Texas System purchased the 500,000 square-foot facility, which included 22.4 acres of land and a surface lot containing hundreds of parking spaces. The University of Texas System officially named the building the Houston Main Building in 1980. (Courtesy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)

The Prudential Building Today


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