A dramatic change is in store for Austin’s skyline, as plans move forward on what now has become a 58-story tower that would be the city’s tallest building and the largest residential tower west of the Mississippi River.
Austin never got work that the economy took a downturn. When I moved to Austin in 2002, the Frost Bank Building was being built, topping off at 515-feet. In the decade since, it is now the third tallest building and will be knocked down the list more as other buildings are being topped off.
This design, to phrase it nicely, will take a long time for me to come around to appreciating. The Jenga design reminds me of the towers my kids build with Melissa and Doug’s amazingly-strong cardboard building blocks. Or it reminds me of Internet days of old where a bad dial-up connection could distort the GIF that I’d been waiting 30 seconds to download.Typically, I don’t mind an ugly building here or there, but this will be so large, it’ll be hard to ignore. It reminds me of Jester on the southside of the UT-Austin campus. The lore on campus years ago was that the architect of the dorm had previously or gone on to design Texas’ death-row prison. Looking at the campus now, a vast majority of the buildings fit into what was later adopted into the Campus Building Plan with common design elements and look befitting a top-tier university.
When you have a building like Jester or UT’s ugly—no other way to say it—engineering buildings demanding so much of the skyline, it is depressing. This new building is better than that, but by no means is a standard that should ever need to be used in such a comparison. I hope the finished product looks better than the artist representation.