The Southwestern Home Office

Prudential’s Southwestern Home Office in Houston (Courtesy of Prudential Financial, Inc.)

The Prudential Center in Boston was one of seven Regional Home Offices built by the insurance company in the 1950s and 60s to decentralize it’s Newark-based management.  In each case, Prudential looked for a large, midtown site — within city limits, but outside of the established central business district — to erect a monument to its important presence in the American economy.  Prudential opened its Southwestern Home Office in Houston in 1952, designed by the noted regional modernist Kenneth Franzheim.  In keeping with its policy, Prudential insisted on an imposing tower with its name emblazoned across the top along with an image of its icon, the Rock of Gibraltar, carved at the top.  The building was instrumental in cultivating Houston’s now famous poly-nucleated urban structure; the Prudential building helped anchor a new business district, about four miles from downtown, near the Rice Institute.

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