Houston Arts Alliance

Opportunities + Resources

Houston First Corporation: George R. Brown Convention Center
Request for Qualifications for Exterior Commission (Phase 2)

Budget: $1,360,000.00
Deadline: Friday, February 20, 2015,11:59 p.m. (CST)
Location: Houston, TX
Eligibility: International

1. Summary

Through a contract with Houston First Corporation (HFC), Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is charged with managing the selection process for the commission of an artist or artist-led team to develop a series of artworks and artistic interventions for the projects described below. HAA is also charged with contracting the finalist to complete the project.

Houston First is leading the effort to have Houston recognized as one of the great cities of the world. Houston First is a local government corporation that manages more than 10 city-owned building, plazas and parking facilities. Properties include Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Wortham Center, George R. Brown Convention Center, Jones Hall and Hilton Americas-Houston.

The mission of Houston First is to enhance the quality of life of Houstonians and to advance the economic prosperity and development of Houston through services, attractions and venues, and by inspiring:

  • The world to think Houston First
  • Houstonians to explore Houston First
  • Employees to deliver Houston First class service

2. Budget

The project has an anticipated budget of $1,360,000 inclusive of all work including, but not limited to, design proposals, artists fees, design, engineering, permitting, insurance costs for each year of the project, lighting software, studio and project administration, travel, fabrication, installation and required documentation. Houston Arts Alliance may award one or more contracts for the scope of work above, with the contracts totaling the budget amount.

3. Statement from the Architect about the Project

The George R. Brown Convention Center is the anchor to the city’s Convention District, a vibrant and rapidly evolving area of downtown Houston. Adjacent to Discovery Green, the city’s downtown public green, public art of many kinds, both permanent and temporary, coexists with nature and iconic buildings. Soon-to-be-opened rail lines connect visitors to key areas of the city, and new residential and hospitality projects are reshaping the cityscape, visitor profile and residential population of the Convention Center District.

To support the commercial, retail and residential development currently planned in the district, we need to create a truly walkable and vibrant street life.  We need to showcase the best that Houston has to offer in the way of dining, meeting and urban spaces for visitors from across the world, and we need to create inspiring civic spaces that continue to attract the regional population of more than six million.

Our vision for the reimagined Avenida de las Americas is to offer a stunning promenade for local residents and visitors that helps them connect with who we are as Houstonians–our diversity, our industrial, maritime and aerospace heritage, our sense of whimsy and our increasing commitment to the quality of life in an urban environment. Combined with picture-perfect views of our downtown skyline from the new floor of the renovated GRB to ceiling glass walls of facade, we hope to create a welcoming focal point for the district and a strong first impression of our city to visitors from all parts of the world. One of the unifying concepts for this project is Houston’s place as a stopping point for avian migration and the concept of flight. This is a subtle and ever-present element of Houston’s environment and cultural life, and is a strong analogy for Houston of today, a place where peoples from across the world come to live and work, within a terrain unique to Southeast Texas. This very real experience of the migration pattern is a physical reminder of our region’s great cultural and ethnic diversity, and the recent migration that has advanced the Houston area to become one of the world’s great urban regions.

4. Art Opportunities/Draft Scope of Work 

  • Controlling and synchronizing the lights in the plaza: Lighting is located in the pavers leading up to the fountain, in the fountain, and suspended above the plaza. HFC is interested in having all three types of lights programmed so that from a distance, the lights are synchronized to create long linear “paths” from one end of the plaza to the other while utilizing the water fountain to create motion.
  • The second opportunity is presented in the form of a sculpture that includes movement, based on some form of mechanical motion, displayed in the water fountain area.
  • HFC is also interested in acknowledging the “Americas” in some form that would complement the installations, but not overshadow the architects’ inspiration.
  • See attached drawing for details on the site. The attached rendering is a conceptualization of how the space might look and is not intended to be directive to an artist or artist team’s proposal.

5. Evaluation Criteria

  • Artistic quality: Artists or artist-led teams are of the highest artistic caliber as demonstrated by examples of past work.
  • Responsiveness: Proposal successfully addresses the overall goals of the project, including creating a welcoming and inviting space for visitors and a visual connection to area amenities and buildings.
  • Demonstrated technical abilities: Applicants demonstrate that the artist or artist-led team has the necessary capability to accomplish the technical aspects of the project and to have the project meld successfully with the architecture and integrate with existing engineering and utilities.
  • Project Management Ability: Applicants demonstrate that they have the ability and the capacity to complete the project on a very tight schedule and within budget. Applicants demonstrate their ability to successfully collaborate with the architects and the contractor and have sufficient relationships with potential vendors and manufacturers.

6. Eligibility

  • As Houston is a global city, this opportunity is open to all professional artists or artist-led teams.
  • Houston area artists, artist-led teams and team members are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Subcontractors may be used and are defined as those providing technical implementation including but not limited to construction, fabrication and/or assembly for portions or all of a finished product under direct supervision and control of an artist.
  • No staff members, board members, advisory board members, city council members or their family members of Houston Arts Alliance, Houston First or the City of Houston.
  • No current Houston First Corporation contractors.
  • No artists who are currently under contract or in contract negotiations with Houston Arts Alliance for projects of over $100,000.
  • Applications not meeting all eligibility criteria will be withdrawn from consideration.

7. Application Requirements

  • Resumes or company information of artist/s and team members (3 pages maximum each)
  • Letter of intent that includes contact information and describes how the artist or artist-led team meets the criteria listed in the RFQ (1,000 words maximum)
  • Biography/ artist statement (500 words maximum) 
  • Work Examples: 20 maximum. Digital images of works that demonstrate the above criteria. Only JPEGs up to 5 MB
  • Image list including artist, title, year completed, dimensions, material and retail or commission price (if applicable) for each image in the artist’s portfolio
  • Up to three professional references, no more than one page.
  • All documents should be in at least a 12-point font, single-spaced, with at least a ½” margin.

To submit, click the button below.

If you have questions, please submit them in writing via email no later than 5:00 p.m. (CST) on Monday, February 16, to civicart@haatx.com. Answers to questions will be posted to the RFQ listed on Submittable.com as they are received and no later than Wednesday, February 18, 2015.

7. Timeline

  • January 22, 2015: RFQ released
  • February 16, 2015: Deadline for questions
  • February 20, 2015: RFQ submission deadline
  • By February 27, 2015: RFQ notification; RFP released to finalists
  • Week of March 6, 2015: Site visit for finalists
  • Week of March 6, 2015: Pre-proposal meeting via Go to Meeting
  • March 20, 2015 (final date TBA): RFP deadline
  • By March 27, 2015: RFP selection panel (including artists presentations)
  • March 30, 2015: Selected artist presented for a vote to the HAA Civic Art Committee
  • March 31, 2015: Selected artist presented for a vote to the HAA Board of Directors
  • April 1, 2015: Selected artist presented to Houston First Corporation for approval
  • April 1, 2015: Finalist notified in writing by HAA
  • April 15, 2015: Contracting complete
  • April - January 2016: Project development, fabrication and installation
  • January 2016: Completion and project close out

This timeline is subject to change.

8. Contact

For questions about the details of this call for qualifications contact:
Sara Kellner
Director of Civic Art + Design
Houston Arts Alliance
3201 Allen Parkway, Suite 250
Houston, TX 77019

> Download the GRB Site Plan
> Download the GRB Renderings
> Download this RFQ


Civic Art + Design Registry

Houston Arts Alliance maintains a partnership with Fresh Arts’ Artist Registry. Artists interested in being involved with future Civic Art + Design projects are invited to create a free profile. Civic Art + Design will use Fresh Arts' Artist Registry as a means for reviewing qualifications when selecting artists considered for future projects.

Entry Deadline: Ongoing


Additional Resources

CaFÉ™ (CallForEntry.org)
CallforEntry.org™, also known as CaFÉ™, is a phenomenal resource for artists to apply for public art opportunities around the US.

Publicartist.org has some amazing opportunities posted – sign up, it’s free!

The City of Phoenix (Office of Arts and Culture) Public Art Program
The City of Phoenix Public Art Program is one of the best in the U.S. Have a look at their opportunities!

Creative Capital
Looking for professional development opportunities? Creative Capital is an incredible resource!


Recommended Readings

Recommended by Jade Abner, Civic Art + Design Assistant:

  • The Profitable Artist: A Handbook for All Artists in the Performing, Literary, and Visual Arts by Artspire
  • Public Art: Theory, Practice and Populism by Cher Krause Knight
  • What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation by Tom Finklepearl

Recommended by Sara Kellner, Director of Civic Art + Design:

  • The Artists Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions by Lynn Basa
  • Public Art by the Book by Barbara Goldstein
  • The Artists Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love by Jackie Battenfield