Sears building to transform into The Ion in spring

Historic Sears building to transform into The Ion.
Historic Sears building to transform into The Ion. (Rice University)

HOUSTON – The historic Sears building on Main Street will be renovated and transformed into The Ion beginning in May.

The Ion will be designed to bring entrepreneurial, corporate and academic communities together for spaces and programs, all under one roof.

The building will retain some of its signature features, including historic corners, glass block windows, and tile work.

Rice University President David Leebron said the building's name, The Ion, is from the Greek word "ienai", which means "go".

"The Ion will become Houston’s nucleus for innovation, fostering a community and culture where entrepreneurs and corporations come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems,” Leebron said.

“I gleefully applaud this next giant step in the creation of an innovation hub that will take Houston closer to becoming a world leader in data science and digital technologies,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “As I said last year when the idea was unveiled, we have to leap, not stroll, into the economic frontier. Now the physical transformation of The Ion will help get us there.”

A group of local universities will provide academic programming within The Ion.

Station Houston, a technology incubator, will oversee public programming at The Ion, which will include entrepreneurial workshops, thought-leadership conferences, industry lectures, job training, educational classes and networking opportunities. 

The building's renovation is expected to be completed in late 2020.

“Students and faculty members from institutions like Rice University and the University of Houston will coexist and collaborate with scientists from Houston’s other great institutions. Investors and corporations will meet face to face with startup entrepreneurs. Together, at The Ion, they will transform Houston into a thriving, connected, high-tech ecosystem,” said Gabriela Rowe, CEO of Station Houston.