Did you guys see this?! Awesome!! I am seriously jealous!
World-renowned architects designing Austin high-rise
Tower at Fifth and Congress could be city's tallest.
By Shonda Novak
Thursday, May 11, 2006
A renowned architectural firm that created one of the world's tallest buildings is designing what could become Austin's tallest high-rise a sleek, flared glass tower that would dramatically alter downtown's skyline.
The mixed-use tower being designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects is set to rise 47 stories on the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Congress Avenue, next to the 26-story Bank of America building. Senior principals Cesar Pelli and Fred Clarke and firm principal Bill Butler will lead the design team.
Austin developer Tom Stacy plans to break ground by mid-2007.
The City of Austin Planning Commission recommended a zoning change Tuesday that would allow Stacy to build a tower with more than 1 million square feet. Planning Commissioner Cid Galindo praised the project for its "vision and audacity."
The zoning request next goes to the City Council, which has the final say.
The Fifth & Congress tower â preliminarily named after its location â is one in a string of dramatic designs for the architectural firm.
The firm designed the landmark twin 89-story Petronas Towers in Malaysia, which soar 1,483 feet skyward. It was the tallest structure in the world when it was built in 1998. It's now the second-tallest.
Other projects designed by the New Haven, Conn.-based firm include the Museum of Modern Art and Museum Tower in New York, the 41-story Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo, the Reagan Washington National Airport and the 31-story Torre Libertad tower in Mexico City.
Both Clarke and Butler have Texas ties: Clarke is a graduate of the University of Texas' School of Architecture, and Butler is a San Antonio native and a Rice University graduate.
They, along with Cesar Pelli, also worked on projects at Rice University and the master plan for the UT campus.
For the Fifth & Congress tower, Stacy's instructions to the architects were straightforward: "Design me the prettiest building you can for this site," said Elizabeth Christian, a spokeswoman for Stacy.
Said Stacy: "These guys have been developing buildings for the past 20 years, and we have the opportunity to bring that experience, creativity and expertise to Austin."
Local architect Jack Tisdale of Susman Tisdale Gayle connected Stacy with Pelli Clarke Pelli, he said.
The result will be a high-rise that is "a world-class building molded to fit the culture, needs and desires of the Austin community," Stacy said. "This is not New York City, Malaysia or Hong Kong. The project has to embrace the vision of the community for that location." Preliminary designs call for the tower to rise up to 700 feet, housing 925,000 square feet of condominiums, retail space and offices or a hotel. The building could be in a rivalry for the title of the city's tallest: another developer plans a condominium tower several blocks away that also could be up to 700 feet tall.
Stacy plans 180 to 200 condominiums priced at $500 to $600 a square foot, putting the average unit, 1,150 square feet, at up to almost $700,000 â in line with many of downtown's newer condos. The condos will be on the tower's top floors, starting above the height of the Bank of America building.
Included in the project is a 12-story parking garage with 1,200 spaces at Fifth and Brazos streets. Stacy hopes to start construction on it later this year. Even though it is recommending approval of the tower, the Planning Commission postponed action on the garage to ex- plore concerns raised by residents of the nearby Brazos Lofts.
Stacy said he is considering putting moderately priced apartments atop the garage, although that may not be economically feasible because of downtown's high land prices.
Its great they're getting a new tallest, but I'm not crazy about the design..especially for a city's tallest building.
What ever happened to the Austin Forum? The website is now full of b.s. ads.
I liked the other 700-ft tower design much better... By the architect's of the Carnegie Hall tower in NYC. Austin has such a tasteful skyline, this kind of building would seem to fit better in Dallas or Houston.
The top of it seems to mimic the Citigroup tower in NYC. I agree that this building would fit in amongst a more dense skyline, but maybe it's the start of something bigger for Austin?
Maybe, they have many ready to come out of the ground if memory serves.Originally Posted by grantboston
I'm glad Ausitin is getting a new tallest building. But I'm not crazy about the design. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of Austin's conservative architecture.
I believe there is one other tall building (taller than 600 ft) which is planned.
I'm sure the "keep Austin weird" crowd is not happy. I hope it does stay funky down there. I like that it contrasts Dallas and Houston, and hope it doesn't start to become just another big Texas city.
Austin is growing up but I still think the influence of UT on the city will last long into the future. Just the nature of universities and as Austin grows so does UT. I believe Austin will stay funky. But then I also don't think of big Texas cities as just big Texas cities. Each has it's own unique flavor.
Oh no that tower makes me feel funny. Like vertigo funny. The angle is very uncomfortable.
(A 'shopped 'line of Austin w/various projects by greenbelt, forumer at another site.
I don't know how appropriately this is scaled.)
It needs a giant yo-yo attached to the top. Charge $10 for a ride down to street level "the quick way". Someone with Photoshop want to take up the challenge?Originally Posted by UrbanLandscape
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09
I personally feel that Austin hasn't been "funky" in at least 10 years.
I've always felt that Austin used nature more as it's skyline than man-made highrises. Obviously a 41 story bulding is going to obstruct some views of Mt. Bonnell and Lake Austin (the Colorado River). I agree with BigD5349. I bet most of the "Keep Austin Weird" people aren't very happy with their city's man-made skyline going ever higher.
By the power of greyskull!
Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with Keep Austin Weird. For all the talk we give them, these real estate set pieces influence the life of the city about as much as holding a feather boa on a blue whale. At the same time, their unwelcome presence for the sake of a minor party's financial gain can inspire a reaction of, "Oh, for pity's sake!" just as surely as that image, and can be just as much of an affront to good sense.
"...molded to fit the culture, needs and desires of the Austin community."
Looking at the quote [edit: cavalierly insincere blandishment, with all respect that is due] above, I reflect on the fact that this building is what Pelli thought should share the skyline with the Texas Capitol. Urbanistically its effect on street frontage is impossible to call at this point, because it hasn't been thought about by the design team (because it doesn't particularly matter to the developer, which is enough to intimate that it will be by-the-numbers). Architecturally its attempt at cutting-edge is pathetically bone-headed and in fact behind the times. I don't mean that it compares unfavorably to the unbuilt but highly publicized Trango Tower, for Denver, about a decade ago, although it does; I mean that the idea, "A glass shoebox is eminently 20th century. We demand more; in fact, our modern sensibilities cry out for a modernism that sees the world as it is, redolent with complexity and relative distortion. Thus, we discover: the glass shard! It's not a glass box!" brings me about this close to wishing Fountain Place and Houston's Pennzoil Plaza had never been invented so that the increasingly empty (yes) stars of the architectural profession wouldn't have latched onto the idea of the glass prism as lazy substitute for expression of architectural rigor.
As for the culture of the community of Austin, that idea of a very few imposing on everyone for their own pleasure runs right in the face of the popular ideals and would-have-been identity of the place.
Austin is on principle strictly an equal-opportunity self-degradation zone.
Last edited by I45Tex; 23 June 2006 at 04:24 AM.
I agree... Austin skyscraper fiends will hate me, but for the capitol city of Texas ...I would place height restrictions, materials(s) restrictions...I would make everything in Downtown Austin no more than 30 or 35 storeys tall, all mixed use, all made from as much local rock, (austin stone) , and granite as possible.Originally Posted by msutton
And in a perfect world, light rail and streetcars everywhere.
Actually, Austin does have height restrictions per se. They have regulations as to blocking the view of the Capitol.Originally Posted by kenc
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