The Austin firm Pollen Architecture and Design has created a home that ties itself tightly to a dramatic landscape of densely-packed small hills and steep valleys.
The Austin firm Pollen Architecture and Design has created a home that ties itself tightly to a dramatic landscape of densely-packed small hills and steep valleys.
Is it possible for architecture to transform, not just the physical character of a place, but also the behavior and patterns of life of people who live there? Can we think of redevelopment, not just in terms of changing buildings and spaces, but also in terms of altering interactions, attitudes, and lifestyles? Architects would tend to answer “yes” to both questions. And, fortunately, there is evidence to back them up.
Described as a “legend” by his peers, Tommy N. Cowan, FAIA, is a dedicated and lifelong leader. His interest in design and architecture began in the fifth grade when a teacher invited him to compete in Austin’s Wellesley Junior Art Show. Two of Cowan’s architectural drawings were submitted and both won top honors.
Five projects were recognized in July with AIA Brazos Design Awards from a total of 16 entries. Jurors were Michael Malone, AIA, of Michael Malone Architects in Dallas; Emily Little, FAIA, of Clayton & Little Architects in Austin; and Mark T. Wellen, AIA, of Rhotenberry Wellen Architects in Midland.
Driving along Austin’s 11th Street just east of downtown, the first things you’ll notice are the vivid colors – bright red, vibrant orange, and
intense yellow – on the exterior of the East Village Lofts.
On Jan. 25, the Texas Society of Architects/AIA will sponsor its first Advocates for Architecture Day at the State Capitol, an event that is expected to attract 200 architects for individual constituent-legislator conferences. With the event taking place during the first weeks of the biannual Texas Legislature, the agenda calls for the architects to meet with elected officials to advocate for their support of measures intended to enhance the built environment and maintain the integrity of the architectural profession.
Being the architect on the house for his daughter, Liz Tirrell, and her family, was “like a surgeon operating on his own daughter,” says Frank Welch, FAIA. While he admits to being “very nervous” about the project, she recalls the experience as “fun” and one that offered fresh insights into her father’s extraordinary design skills.
This past fall, the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture celebrated its centennial with various symposia, lectures, and gatherings held under the banner of “UTSOA 100: Traces & Trajectories.”
Lawrence Speck, FAIA, professor and former dean at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and a principal of Page Southerland Page, has been awarded the American Institute of Architects’ 2011 Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architecture Education.
Each year the Texas Historical Commission recognizes individuals, organizations, and programs that have achieved success in efforts to preserve the state’s architectural heritage. Included in the 2011 THC program are awards for The Shape of Texas radio program and the Austin architecture firm Clayton & Little Architects.
The lower Colorado River’s expansive watershed touches on the lives of more than one million residents of 56 counties in central Texas. Managing supplies of drinking water from the river and harnessing its powerful flow for hydroelectricity are part of the Lower Colorado River Authority’s multi-faceted mission. However, the public utility’s most visible role involves the controlled release of water through six dams along the river’s 600-mile run to the Gulf of Mexico.
McGarrah Jessee’s relocation to larger quarters in downtown Austin neatly coincides with the home-grown creative agency’s bursting out of its regional sphere of influence. Affectionately known as McJ, the company has steadily ratcheted up its staffing level as its roster of clients has expanded and its recognition for innovative and hugely successful advertising and branding campaigns has gone national. In December, after having outgrown its former offices in a converted warehouse, McJ re-established its base of operations in a former bank building, a midcentury treasure that had fallen on hard times.
Over a decade i n development, the City of Austin’s capital improvements program called Great Streets is changing the character of its downtown by broadening sidewalks and adding amenities to enhance the pedestrian realm.
“Light, space and order—these are the things that humans need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.” Le Corbusier’s observation of these three essential elements comes to mind when visiting the Sisters Retreat pool house and pavilion by Mell Lawrence Architects. Though the project possesses the typical attributes one might associate with a small recreational program, the unique quality of the design is manifest both in the overall layout as well as in its materiality and detailing, all of which embrace light in nuanced ways.
Designed by San Antonio firm Wiese Hefty Design Build, the Austin headquarters of Sweet Leaf Tea highlights the company’s brand while also displaying its eclectic office culture. The architects used building information modeling (BIM) software to design the almost 8,000-sf space, which is an adaptive reuse of a 1918 building in the Penn Field office complex.
When the 82nd Legislature convened in January, expectations were low for the state’s architectural profession. The biggest issue facing lawmakers was a historic budget shortfall, which meant that new taxes might be levied on professional services, including those performed by architects.
Hal Box, FAIA, had a greater impact on architectural education in Texas than any single individual in the state’s history. He was a visionary and a consummate doer. He imagined a much more prominent position for Texas architecture in a national and international context, and he worked tirelessly and skillfully to use architectural education as a means to reach that ambitious goal.
The American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment has included Lake/Flato Architect’s Livestrong Foundation’s headquarters among its 2011 Top Ten Green Projects, a national program that celebrates sustainable design excellence. Livestrong, located in Austin, was this year’s sole Texas honoree.
AIA Austin honored 10 projects in its 2011 Design Awards Celebration. From a total of 77 submittals, the distinguished jury of architects selected three for Honor Awards, six for Citations of Honor, and one unbuilt project for a Studio Award.
The design initiative by Miró Rivera Architects proposes a series of activity zones for a segment along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail in Austin where the trail extends underneath heavily trafficked Mopac Expressway (Loop 1).
Structures from every era of a city’s history are of immeasurable importance to the texture of a community and its sense of place. Intangible sentiments can link people to buildings through experience, memory, or imagination. Yet, many factors can lead to the decline and even the demolition of a historical structure.
While it is not unusual for a renovation project to transform an individual building, it is noteworthy when such a project begins to change how people relate to the city around them.
Located on a semi-urban 7.5-acre lot more than a few miles West of Austin, Sisters’ Retreat encompasses a shared pool house and play area for the families of two siblings, set amongst their small compound of homes. The site, surrounded by tall grass and within walking distance of Lake Austin, is reached by a short meander from the residences.
Arthouse, the oldest statewide contemporary visual arts organization in Texas, is renovating and expanding its Jones Center space in downtown Austin.
Established in the heart of East Texas in 1917 and nestled among the region’s majestic pine forest, Stephen F. Austin University is quietly nurturing its student- focused campus life. The new Baker Patillo Student Center, completed in March 2007, has blossomed into a vibrant, 24-hour “town center” for the university and the town of Nacogdoches.
Each year since 2003 the nonprofit Preservation Texas presents its list of “Texas’ Most Endangered Places,” and this year’s roster of seven places, including the San Jacinto Battlefield Historic Site in Harris County. The organization’s objective is to call attention to significant places that its leadership deems imperiled by an uncertain future.
Following a competition among 15 firms, a new 120,000-sf Belo Center for New Media is being designed by Lawrence Group Architects for the University of Texas at Austin. Serving as a northwest gateway to the campus, the building will expand facilities for the College of Communication.
Austin architect W. Eugene George’s classic work, Lost Architecture of the Río Grande Borderlands, has returned to print in a handsome new edition.
The 3,000-seat Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Concert Hall is the flagship theater of the University of Texas at Austin’s performing arts complex. Originally opened in 1981, the hall boasted an unusually large stage and generous back-of-house areas that effectively accommodated large-scale opera and dance productions. However, following the adoption in 1999 of more stringent campus-wide fire and life safety standards, the university hired Boora Architects of Portland, Oregon, to study remedial options.
Thirteen projects were selected for 2010 AIA Houston Design Awards. The jury – Brian Johnsen of Johnsen Schmaling Architects in Milwaukee, Wis.; Juan Miró, AIA, of Miró Rivera Architects in Austin; and Amanda Kolson Hurley, executive editor of Washington, D.C.-based Architect magazine – met Feb. 26 at the Architecture Center Houston to review 132 entries from 59 local firms. Awards were presented March 25 at the Rice Hotel in Houston.
The conceptual project by UT Austin architecture students Brian Bedrosian and William Huie received first-place recognition in the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture International Student Design Competition.
Located in Cuero’s downtown historic district, DeWitt County Courthouse (1896) is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, State Archeological Landmark, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Having undergone a total interior “modernization” in 1953, the courthouse was restored in 2008 by TWC Architects of Austin as part of the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program administered by the Texas Historical Commission.
Fifteen projects were selected for the 2010 AIA Austin Design Awards in April. The jury was comprised of Merrill Elam, AIA, of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects in Atlanta, Ga.; Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, of Marlon Blackwell Architect in Fayetteville, Ark.; and Michael Imber, FAIA, of Michael G. Imber Architects in San Antonio. The three jurors reviewed over 100 submittals at the AIA Austin Center for Architecture.
“Tailor the District,” a concept for reinvigorating a downtrodden corner of downtown Austin, uses Waller Creek as the central seam around which patches of social fabric (i.e., places of local commerce, open space, and entertainment venues) are stitched together by a unified circulation network.
Designed by Mell Lawrence Architects of Austin, the Cotillion Pavilion replaces an existing shade structure at Cotillion Park in northeast Dallas. Scheduled for completion later this year, the project is part of the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department’s long-range strategic plan to restore or replace aging picnic pavilions throughout the city.
Set on the crest of a prominent hill west of downtown Austin and oriented to command an unobstructed view of the skyline, the Hilltop House itself is visible from many points around the city.
Distant views of central Austin have a way of appearing suddenly as a result of Austin’s perch on the edge of the Hill Country. Until recently, downtown’s most visible landmark has been the icily geometric Frost Bank Tower, built in 2004 and reaching 515 feet high, offering a counterpoint to the occasional warm glow of the University of Texas Tower to the north of downtown and the Victorian dome of the Texas State Capitol.
Sited on a bluff overlooking Austin’s downtown skyline and Lady Bird Lake, the Paggi House recently underwent renovations that restore the original 1840s structure while adding a contemporary twist. Re-imagined by J Square Architecture, the 5,523-sf restaurant, which once served as an inn and a family home, gained a new roof, outdoor bar/dining space, restroom, and office.
In contrast to the photographs that illustrate the mixed-use projects profiled in this edition’s feature section, the University Park development in Austin is not a pretty picture. The owner’s ambitious plans for a high-density urban village on 23 acres along I-35 just north of downtown have fizzled, leaving a half-empty office building to stand alone amid an otherwise abandoned construction site. Tenants are angry, neighbors are frustrated, and everyone else is wondering how things went so wrong.
The City of Cedar Park commissioned PBS&J of Austin to provide architectural and engineering services for the development of a 50,000-sf community and recreation center located in the city’s evolving downtown district.
Austin’s Arthouse at the Jones Center is set to re-open Oct. 22 after a $6 million renovation and expansion. The 20,830-sf contemporary arts center makes its debut with an inaugural exhibit, More Art about Buildings and Food, by Jason Middlebrook.
Austin-based architecture and planning firm Antenora Architects recently completed the schematic design phase for a new Hutto City Hall, with an adjacent multi-purpose building and municipal park.
Entering the Lance Armstrong Foundation (Livestrong) headquarters is an exercise in transition—from busy streetscape through serene garden to an open, sunlit interior. Transition also characterizes the conversion of the 1950s-era warehouse into the Livestrong offices, considering that a wide variety of the project’s materials were salvaged from the original structure.
“Beauty alone doesn’t hold your interest for very long. You want things to be a little… scary. But the kind of awe that derives from nature is extraordinarily tranquil.” So muses Arthur Andersson, AIA, in the recently published Natural Houses that features several projects designed by Andersson-Wise Architects, the Austin firm led by him and Chris Wise, AIA. Prominently showcased in the book is Stone Creek Camp, a backwoods hideaway built on a ridge overlooking Flathead Lake in rural northwestern Montana. The elegantly rusticated encampment comprises eight small buildings strategically arrayed across the steeply sloping site, each positioned to foster an individual and collective sense of refuge.
According to Kevin Alter, the 4,200-sf, three -story East Windsor Residence is essentially a one-bedroom loft because the top floor “has all the pleasures and attributes of a penthouse and then it expands down to give you all this other stuff.” The project was designed by Alter, along with alterstudio architects co-principal Ernesto Cragnolino, AIA, with a focus on the third level, which boasts 270-degree views and contains the master suite, kitchen, and main living area. But the “other stuff” found on the remaining two levels completes this finely crafted house in dynamic and dramatic ways.
Designed by BOKA Powell Architects, Barton Place is a six-story, multi-building condominium complex located south of downtown Austin. Six buildings and an elevated plaza landscaped with native plants rest above a twolevel underground parking garage.
For the past four years, the members of AIA Austin have volunteered their time to teach elementary school students in their area about architecture. Their most recent efforts culminated in November with displays at UT Austin of models the kids devised to illustrate the lessons they have learned. This year’s program reached more than 315 students from third, fourth, and fifth grades.
Developed by Broaddus & Associates of Austin with Baltimore-based Ayers/Saint/Gross as consultants, the master plan for Texas State University in San Marcos was launched in 2004 to address a projected student enrollment increase of 30,000 and a need for additional academic facilities for 2015 and beyond.
While studying at UT Austin in the spring of 1998, my classmates and I had the opportunity to attend a series of public lectures given by the seven short-listed architects for the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. The list was impressive and when Herzog & de Meuron was ultimately chosen we were thrilled by the prospect of what the Swiss firm would design. The insertion of a thoughtful work within the Spanish Mediterranean-style campus was certainly something to be eagerly anticipated.
Founded in 1987, Southwest Key Programs, a national non-profit group based in Austin, manages a variety of social programs to benefit disadvantaged youth and their families. Intending for its new headquarters to act as a tool for neighborhood revitalization, the organization selected a site in a traditionally under-served area of the city to locate the Southwest Key East Austin Community Development Project.