State-shaped lazy river a big ol’ tribute to Texas

Posted at 9:22 AM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-23 09:22:42-05

The National Football League headquarters hotel for Super Bowl LI has a Texas-sized treasure on top, and we’re not talking about a defensive tackle.

A lazy river in the shape of Texas flows atop the Marriott Marquis Houston, the newest hotel in the state’s most populous city.

The $360 million Marriott Marquis, which opened in December, has 29 floors, 1,000 guest rooms and 52 event rooms with more than 100,000 square feet of space, including a 39,000 square-foot ballroom — the largest in Houston, Marriott says.

Excitement will be building as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL players and VIPs arrive to take over the entire hotel for the big game, which will be played on February 5 at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

“This is Super Bowl central,” said Laura Mitzner, director of design and construction of RIDA Development Corp., which built and owns the hotel.

Texas-sized, Texas-shaped

The lazy river has already grabbed much of the attention, with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner switching on the river lights on a dark December night to officially welcome the hotel to the Houston skyline.

Perched 110 feet above street level atop the hotel, the $10 million Parkview Terrace includes the lazy river, an infinity pool and a poolside bar and grill.

“Texans love nothing more than Texas,” Mitzner said.

When company officials were discussing their bid to build the hotel, “we thought, what about a lazy river?” she said.

They’d built them before at other hotels, but not more than 100 feet in the air above a large ballroom. And never in the shape of Texas …

“It was a monumental undertaking by our engineers and designers just to make sure having a lazy river on that deck was feasible,” she said.

To ensure it wouldn’t leak, contractors essentially built a double deck, one waterproof deck underneath the top deck where the terrace is located, Mitzner said.

The stats

The river is 3.6 feet deep and flows with a gentle current that carries guests around the state in less than 15 minutes. If the meandering shape of Texas was straightened out, the pool would be 510 feet long. It holds 140,000 gallons or 18,740 cubic feet.

For swimmers more interested in laps than floating along the bubbling lazy river decked out with water cannons and waterfalls, there’s also an infinity pool on the rooftop.

Morris Architects served as lead architects for the hotel project, while Looney Associates handled the interior design.

The hotel, which was built on city-owned land, connects via sky bridge to the George R. Brown Convention Center. It’s located near Minute Maid Ballpark, where the Houston Astros play, and the Toyota Center, where the Houston Rockets play.

And it overlooks Discovery Green — a 12-acre urban park which will host “Super Bowl LIVE!,” a free nine-day fan festival celebrating the big game.