Posts tagged with "Austin":

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Austin company 3D prints house on site to help alleviate homelessness

“What if you could download and print a house for half the cost?” reads the lede for the Vulcan II, a 3D printer with a name suited for sci-fi space exploration, on the website of Austin-based company ICON. Now the company has put this claim to the test, building what it says is the first permitted 3D-printed home in the United States, unveiled during SXSW. Using its original Vulcan gantry-style 3D printer, the firm collaborated with global housing nonprofit New Story to build a 650-square-foot home, which features separate bedroom, living, bathroom, and kitchen areas. The home, called the Chicon House, was printed in under 24 hours and while this test cost around $10,000, the firm estimates that future single-story homes, which could be as large as 2,000 square feet, could be printed for thousands less, around $4,000–$6,500. According to New Story CEO Brett Hagler, there is a pressing need to “challenge traditional [building] methods” to combat housing insecurity and homelessness. He adds that “linear methods will never reach the over-a-billion people who need safe homes.” ICON hopes to leverage the technology to help combat global housing crises all while being more environmentally friendly, resilient, and affordable. The printers use a proprietary “Lavacrete” concrete composite, which is made of materials that can be easily sourced locally and has a compressive strength of 6,000 pounds per square inch. The material is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions to minimize the impact of natural disasters, according to the firm. Wood, metal, and other materials can then be added on for windows, roofs, and the like. The printer relies on an “automated material delivery system” aptly called Magma, which blends the Lavacrete with other additives and water stored in built-in reservoirs. The Lavacrete’s composition is custom-tuned to the particular conditions of each location, accounting for temperature, humidity, altitude, and other climatic features. While 3D printing has been used in a number of architectural experiments over the past few years, it is primarily used as a prefabrication tool, with parts printed offsite to be assembled later. ICON argues that printing a whole home at once with a gantry printer is faster and more reliable. Printing the whole home reportedly provides a continuous thermal envelope, high thermal mass, and extremely little waste. The printers, which are transported in a custom trailer, are designed to work in areas where there is limited access to water, electricity, and the infrastructure necessary for traditional construction techniques—although, at least currently, it seems that some more standard construction is needed to finish off the 3D printed walls and turn them into a home. The Vulcan II is operated by a tablet, has remote monitoring technology, and built-in lighting for building overnight. A specialized software suite helps convert CAD drawings into printable forms. ICON has also begun licensing its tech to others. Austin-based developer Cielo Property Group plans to start production of affordable housing in Austin this year using the Vulcan II, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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Waller Creek Conservancy stages fifth annual Creek Show

This article originally appeared in Texas Architect. For the fifth time in as many years, artists, architects, and Austinites alike descended the banks of Waller Creek to experience Creek Show, an annual display of temporary light installations commissioned by the Waller Creek Conservancy. Intended to delight the public and spark conversation about the transformation of Waller Creek, the show has swelled in popularity since its inception as a one-night event in 2014. This year was no exception, as thousands of Austinites were dazzled by six local design teams over nine nights in November. TENTSION by Perkins+Will anchored the southern entrance to the show, which sprawled north between 9th and 11th streets in downtown Austin. Dozens of internally lit camping tents hovered over the creek bed in a variety of configurations, occasionally soaring into the tree canopies and over spectators’ heads via taut cables. Inspired by tensions at this intersection of the creek and Austin’s urban fabric, the tents themselves were donated to a local organization serving those in need after the installation was disassembled. Moving north, La Noria by Drophouse Design rests on the creek bed, allowing the natural current to power two large, connected paddle wheels adorned with glowing spokes and fluorescent paddles. The playful armature is also unapologetically industrial, aiming to draw a contrast between the mechanics of the installation itself and the natural power source of the creek. AOD contributed Parabolus as homage to the geometry of the 1930s arched masonry bridges that allow downtown streets to pass over the creek. Thin tension fibers illuminated by hidden black lights lend the installation its form, which resembles a graphed tangent function. Per the design team, the installation “draws [viewers’] gaze to both water and sky, creating an immersive experience that emphasizes Waller Creek’s symbiotic urban and natural connection.” Urban Scrim by Lemmo Architecture and Design (LA-N-D) features ephemeral projections of silhouetted pedestrians and cyclists mapped onto rectangular modules of tight scrim fabric. Formally inspired by the West Texas land art movement, its simple forms and impressive scale seek to pair “the movement of the urban streetscape with the texture and nature of water flowing through the creek.” Ambedo ßeta from Polis employed a series of linear LED lights that wrap continuously throughout the three rectangular tunnels beneath the 11th street bridge. The installation also featured two “phone booths” on opposite ends of the tunnel, where visitors could engage in a form of conversation as their voices manipulated the lighting. By turning visitors’ voices to lights, the installation reminds guests that words can tangibly affect those around them. The terminus of the show resided within Symphony Square, a city-owned public plaza that features a terraced amphitheater and several historic buildings that the Conservancy renovated to house its own offices and support facilities for public-facing events. A collaboration between Campbell Landscape Architecture and Tab Labs yielded Light Lines, an abstracted representation of the city’s waterways and drainage system. As another interactive display, the installation used a series of electroluminescent wires suspended from a grid that extends over the terraced steps of the amphitheater. Per the team, “interactive touch points allow viewers to manipulate the light intensity as it moves across the structure and reflects upon the water.” While Creek Show and its installations are only temporary, the Conservancy’s work in preparing the annual event is an around-the-clock endeavor. Austin-based artists looking to participate need only check the Creek Show website in the coming months for the next call for submissions. As the event continues to gain momentum, it’s never too early to wonder what the next chapter for Creek Show has in store for Austin and the future of Waller Creek.
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Apple announces a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas

Not to be left out of the headquarters expansion game, Apple has announced that it will be opening a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, and satellite offices in San Diego, Seattle, and Culver City, California. The announcement stems directly from the tax reform bill signed in December 2017, as Apple claimed it would be moving a large portion of the $252 billion in cash it was holding overseas back to the U.S. As a result, Apple pledged to repatriate $38 billion and create up to 20,000 American jobs. All told, the tech company plans on investing $350 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, with $30 billion going towards capital projects. Apple already employs 6,200 people in Austin, and the newly-announced campus at the 133-acre Robinson Ranch is expected to break ground a mile away from the extant campus and hold another 5,000 employees, with room for up to 15,000. With 3 million square feet of office space, 50 acres of open area, and a commitment to only using electricity from renewable sources, the future Austin Campus may end up rivaling the spaceship-like Apple Park complex for size. The future offices in San Diego, Seattle, and Culver City will hold approximately 1,000 employees each, and Apple has pledged to beef up their existent offices in Boston, Boulder, Colorado, New York, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Oregon. This year has seen a slew of campus announcements from the world’s largest tech companies. Google is working on their one-million-square-foot Caribbean campus in Sunnyvale, California, as well as their Charleston East project outside of Mountain View, California. Meanwhile, Microsoft broke ground on their 32-acre Silicon Valley campus and announced a sprawling overhaul of their 500-acre Redmond campus just outside of Seattle. The winner of the campus arms race was clearly Amazon, which kept the country enthralled as they narrowed down a home for their $5 billion HQ2, eventually settling on Long Island City in Queens and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. For its part, Apple will be forgoing the billions in subsidies that Amazon accepted, and will only take about $25 million from the state of Texas for its new campus. Construction on the Austin complex is expected to take 30-to-36 months according to Kristina Raps, Apple's vice president of global real estate. If everything goes as planned, the new office is slated to open sometime in 2021.
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Ennead puts structure on display at the UT Austin School of Engineering

“Working by calculation, engineers employ geometrical forms, satisfying our eyes by their geometry…their work is on the direct line of good art,” Le Corbusier described the engineer’s aesthetic. This kind of engineering expressionism is employed to interesting ends by Ennead Architects at the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC) at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering. The building features a dramatic glass-enclosed atrium that connects disciplines on a monumental staircase and provides sightlines into working laboratories, arranged like a page of comic book panels. A glass ceiling spans the 80-foot-wide space, and two towers on either side contain multidisciplinary research labs and electrical and computer engineering research spaces, respectively. The unification of disciplines in the atrium is expressed through a series of expressive parts: A truss-like bridge, a bespoke waterjet-cut spiral staircase, and slanted columns below the mezzanine level all show off the aesthetic of an engineer rather than one seamless whole. This honesty is a direct appeal to the students and engineering community who will inevitably congregate in the atrium.

Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC) Architect: Ennead Architects 2501 Speedway, Austin, Texas 512-232-2147

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Civil rights landmark in Austin is threatened by development

When nine-year-old African American caddie Alvin Propps was arrested for playing golf at the newly desegregated Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin, Texas, in 1950, it set off a firestorm that eventually made its way to the mayor’s office. As the first peacefully desegregated golf course in the former Confederate South during the Jim Crow era, the course became the center of controversy. But when the mayor’s office decided to drop the charges, it set a precedent, and Lions Municipal became open to African Americans from that day forward. However, the course is now threatened by private development, after the University of Texas Board of Regents decided not to renew the City of Austin's lease in 2011 on the 1924 course just two miles west of the Texas state capitol. In 2019, it could be handed over to developers. In a post by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, Glenda Gilmore, the Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History at Yale University, said, “Historians searching for the impetus of the ‘classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement,’ preceding Brown v. Board in 1954 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, have posited a ‘long civil rights movement’ that preceded those iconic struggles. In other words, Lions Municipal Golf Course is representative of the ‘birth of the civil rights movement.'” The city has floated the idea of preserving the clubhouse, but not the course. However, many critics say that because the structure wasn’t part of the site when the desegregation happened, preserving the clubhouse alone is not enough. The Congressional Black Caucus has voiced support for measures to protect the course, and the Texas House of Representatives, the City of Austin, and Travis County, Texas, have all passed resolutions acknowledging the historic importance of the site.
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Lake|Flato blends high design with sustainability for an Austin grocery store

Imagine shopping for groceries in a LEED Gold–certified building on a site once occupied by Austin’s airport, and you can picture the Mueller H-E-B structure designed by Lake|Flato Architects. The glass-clad building is one of the many collaborations between the Texas supermarket chain and the San Antonio–based firm Lake|Flato. Triangular steel trusses support a soaring, curved roof made of corrugated metal. The H-E-B Market’s design responds to Austin’s highly variable humidity with a vestibule that transports and expels heat out the top. The building is also a testing ground for many sustainable concepts, such as a rain garden that doubles as a water filtration system, rooftop sensors that monitor how much daylight the building gets, and smart air-conditioning—all aimed at reducing energy use and improving the interior environment for shoppers. In 2016, it was awarded an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Award, recognizing the architects for their commitment to sustainability.
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John S. Chase, trailblazing Texas architect, celebrated in two exhibits

John Saunders Chase, FAIA (1925–2012) was a Houston architect who realized a large body of work in the city, throughout the state of Texas, and around the United States. At its peak, his office had nearly fifty employees in four cities: Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Chase, an African American in a profession that has struggled with diversity and discrimination, achieved many historic firsts during his career. His life, as seen via his personal and professional achievements and the work of younger architects who passed through his office, was on display this spring in Chasing Perfection, a two-part exhibit produced by the Houston Public Library. Born in Maryland, John Chase moved to Austin in the late 1940s after receiving initial architectural training at the Hampton Institute in Virginia and serving in the Army during World War II. He applied to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) School of Architecture after the Sweatt v. Painter Supreme Court decision in 1950 that fought the “separate but equal” policy of racial segregation in college education. After graduation, no firm would hire him, so Chase established his own practice in Houston, and in 1956, he became the first African American architect to be licensed in the state. Throughout his career, he designed churches, homes, union halls, libraries, high schools, fire stations, and institutional buildings, including much of the campus of Texas Southern University. He was a founding member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) in 1970 and received his AIA Fellowship award in 1977. In 1980, Chase was selected by President Jimmy Carter to join the Commission of Fine Arts and was part of that committee during the contentious process of realizing Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. He was the first African American to serve on this commission. During the 1980s, his office was part of a consortium of local architects responsible for the design of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Chase is survived by his wife, Drucie, and their three adult children. According to Danielle Wilson, the exhibition’s curator, discussions about the show began in 2009 with Chase’s participation. At that time, his architectural archive had been donated to the Houston Metropolitan Research Center’s Architectural Archives, and his personal archive was in the process of being donated to the African American Library at the Gregory School. Wilson’s father grew up next to the Chases in Houston, so she was familiar with the family and immediately knew that she wanted to work on a show about the architect when she joined the staff of the Gregory School. After Chase passed away, it took a number of years to assemble the parts for this successful exhibition. On the second floor of the Julia Ideson Building in downtown Houston, letters, photographs, and artifacts were installed alongside photographs of built work, architectural drawings, and hand-drawn renderings. Seen together, Chase’s life and work could be understood through the staging of these personal and professional artifacts, sequenced together to tell a holistic life story. Wilson said, “When I think about architects and their work, everything goes all together. I think it’s great when you have that context of both. I think it makes works more powerful.” The room also included a large–scale model and drawings of the George R. Brown Convention Center mounted on a drafting table. At the Gregory School, the work of four architects who worked with Chase is on display and demonstrates the effect his mentorship had on a subsequent generation of African American architects. “When I was focusing on his work and life, it was hard to tell a comprehensive narrative without talking about these men,” Wilson said. Daniel Bankhead, AIA; Darrell Fitzgerald, FAIA; James Harrison; and Wilbert Taylor all worked at various points with Chase and went on to become professional and community leaders themselves. In February, the library hosted a discussion between these architects, in addition to a conversation with Mrs. Chase and her children. Chasing Perfection offered a powerful portrait of a 20th–century American architect through Chase’s life, work, and impact on the profession. Wall text for the exhibit was excerpted from a manuscript titled The Life and Work of Architect John Saunders Chase: You Can Do More from the Inside, by architectural historian Dr. Wesley Henderson with Andrea Lazar. Both worked for two years to conduct interviews with family members, colleagues, and former employees of John Chase. Henderson and Lazar believe that Chase’s life story deserves to be more widely known since very few biographies of successful black architects have been published. They were very pleased to be able to contribute to the show at the Houston Public Library. Chase’s legacy continues to be explored and celebrated. In February, UT Austin announced that it had purchased one of Chase’s early buildings in east Austin to renovate and use as a community engagement center. While Chasing Perfection closed in early June, Wilson says there are already discussions underway about touring the show at other institutions. She also said a brochure from Chase’s firm and drawing supplies from his office were recently acquired by the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. Wilson added that she and Mrs. Chase are “going to go through his personal archives to see what materials might go to the NMAAHC, and the rest will be housed at the African American Library at the Gregory School.” Chase is an important figure among the talented architects who practiced in Houston during the second half of the 20th century. His career opened the door for many architects of color to enter the profession, and he serves as an example of the countless ways in which an architect can effect positive change in the world.

Chasing Perfection: The Work and Life of Architect John S. Chase Houston Public Library Julia Ideson Building

Chasing Perfection: The Legacy of Architect John S. Chase The African American Library at the Gregory School

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Threatened landscape: A civil rights landmark in Austin

When nine-year-old African American caddie Alvin Propps was arrested for playing golf at the newly desegregated Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin, Texas in 1950, it set off a firestorm that eventually made its way to the mayor’s office. As the first peacefully desegregated golf course in the former Confederate South during the Jim Crow era, the course became the center of controversy, but when the mayor’s office decided to drop the charges, it set a precedent, and Lions Municipal became open to African Americans from that day forward. However, the course is now threatened by private development after the City of Austin decided in 2011 to not renew the lease on the 1924 course just two miles west of the Texas state capitol. In 2019, it could be handed over to developers. “Historians searching for the impetus of the 'classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement,' preceding Brown v. Board in 1954 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, have posited a 'long civil rights movement' that preceded those iconic struggles. In other words, Lions Municipal Golf Course is representative of the 'birth of the civil rights movement,” said Glenda Gilmore, the Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History at Yale University in a post by the Cultural Landscape Foundation. The city has floated the idea of preserving the clubhouse, but not the course, but many critics say that because the structure wasn’t part of the site when the desegregation happened, preserving the clubhouse alone is not enough. The Congressional Black Caucus has voiced support and measures to protect the course, and the Texas House of Representatives, the City of Austin, and Travis County, Texas have all passed resolutions acknowledging the historical importance of the site.
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Can this affordable 3-D printed house address the world’s housing shortage?

At this year’s South by Southwest Festival (SXSW), Austin-based startup ICON unveiled the first residential permitted 3-D-printed house in the United States. ICON is partnered with the non-profit New Story, which has constructed homes for thousands of displaced residents across Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. The young firm views their technology as a practical tool to address the sheltering needs of the approximately billion people on the planet that lack a home. The home was constructed with ICON’s Vulcan printer, a prototype developed specifically for the project. The printer is capable of assembling a single-story, 600 to 800-square-foot home in twelve to twenty-four hours, at a cost of $10,000 per unit. ICON hopes that ongoing research on the prototype will reduce the construction cost to under $4,000. According to the New Atlas, the firm will use the model home as its own office to properly gauge its performance. The unveiled 3-D-printed house consists of a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and porch, arranged around a modest 350-square-foot floor plan. Future models will include a kitchen and an additional bedroom and larger square-footage. The Vulcan uses a construction process similar to concrete slip forming, with a continuous flow of mortar guided along a pre-programmed path. Slip forming allows for the building up of concrete layers in rapid succession. While the Vulcan printer crafts the overall structure of the home, contractors are required for interior finishing and the construction of roofs and windows. However, Quartz reports that ICON is researching the capacity of robots to install windows and the 3-D fabrication of roofing units. As reported by The Verge, after material testing and necessary alterations to design, ICON will ship the Vulcan printer to El Salvador where it will be utilized in the construction of 100 homes in late-2019. While the Vulcan’s current efforts are devoted to the fabrication of houses in distressed regions, ICON does intend to introduce its technology to the US affordable housing housing market.
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Ellsworth Kelly’s “chapel” of colored light is realized at UT Austin

The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin has finished the construction of Austin, the last project of artist Ellsworth Kelly to be realized before his death at the end of 2015. Austin is Kelly’s first foray into architecture, and the T-shaped, secular sanctuary is flooded with multicolored light at every junction. The completion of Austin is the result of a $23 million campaign by the Blanton, after Kelly gifted the building’s design to the museum in 2015. The 2,715-square-foot, chapel-like building was conceived of as existing without a religious component, and its most prominent feature, multicolored, mouth-blown stained glass arrangements at each of the façades, splashes the interior with focused patterns. All of Austin, inside and out, focuses attention on Kelly’s use of colored grids. The curving exterior of the building is clad in limestone panels sourced from Alicante, Spain, while the floor of the surrounding plaza and connected interior are made of black granite. One of Kelly’s “Totems” will be on display inside, an 18-foot-tall sculptural form carved from salvaged 19th century redwood. Despite the piece’s professed areligious alignment, Kelly chose to adorn the interior walls with 14 40-inch-by-40-inch black-and-white marble panels which abstract the Stations of the Cross. The white marble comes from the same quarry in Carrera, Italy, from where Michelangelo sourced his marble, while the black marble is Belgian. In a press release, the Blanton described Austin as “an experience akin to visiting the Rothko and Matisse chapels, in Houston and Vence, France, respectively.” Drawing attention to the interplay between colored light, air, and heavier physical materials is Austin’s central concept. The building accomplishes this by varying the window orientations at every façade. On the south side is the “color grid,” a three-by-three lattice of square glass pieces, while the east façade’s “tumbling squares” takes those same pieces and rotates them around a circle, referencing the north transept rose window at Chartres Cathedral in Paris. The west façade’s “starburst” window elongates the tumbling squares into narrow streaks of color, not dissimilar to Apple’s spinning loading wheel. Austin sits adjacent to the Blanton and is surrounded by a blanket of green space, and officially opened to the public on February 18 alongside Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, an exhibition meant to explain Austin’s context in Kelly’s canon of work.
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Austin’s new public library reflects the city’s transformation and energy

Austin’s new Central Public Library, designed by Lake|Flato with Shepley Bulfinch, opened last October. The 198,000-square-foot facility occupies a full city block adjacent to where Shoal Creek meets the Colorado River in the western part of downtown. Austin’s first residents settled here 180 years ago, and in the 20th-century municipal facilities like the Seaholm Power Plant were built nearby. Planning for the library began in 2009 as part of the district redevelopment surrounding the repurposed power plant. After some delays, the library, with a $125 million price tag, arrives as a major addition to downtown’s cultural landscape. In Austin, the new library doubles the book capacity of the previous central library, but books are not the focus of the architecture. For years, the library typology has been morphing into a more generic public space that supports a range of studious and social actions. Austin’s new Central Public Library, the city’s fourth, is an example of the library as urban amenity. Here, event takes precedence over edifice. As such, its traditional library aspects shrink while its public aspects sing. The library anchors a new district of Austin. Nearby, condominium and office towers race upward on either side of Shoal Creek; most of the neighborhood is recently completed or still under construction. The Green Water Treatment Plant Redevelopment itself will create 1.7 million square feet of leasable space. Next door, the former Seaholm Power Plant has been converted into offices for tech start-ups. One block north, the Independent, a Jenga-style residential tower similar in scheme to New York’s New Museum and now under construction, will rise 58 stories. An electrical substation, unable to be relocated, is screened by the “Power Picket,” a colored concrete post fence designed by NADAAA. Outside the library, a new bridge across Shoal Creek connects to the pedestrian-friendly areas of the 2nd Street District, itself developed just a decade ago, turning an underused set of city-owned blocks into a retail destination and the relocated home of Austin City Limits. The creek’s edge next to the library has been improved into a generously wide promenade. The library’s public energy starts here, as Austinites— ambling about the newest parts of their city or arriving from the airy parking garage below—are swept up into the expansive interior. This atrium is the most powerful space in the library. Atop the overhanging roof, a two-sided skylight with the profile of a cowboy hat directs sunlight deep into the interior, ensuring each floor is well lit. Every floor opens to the atrium—meeting rooms overlook it, wooden pathways span across it, and lighter stairs switchback upward on its edges. Its spectacle, part cavernous natural feature, corporate headquarters, and mall concourse, invites visitors to hike the trail rather than take the elevator. Upstairs, a variety of overlooks yield new urban vistas: To the north and east the rapidly changing skyline, to the south Lady Bird Lake, and to the west the beginnings of the Texas Hill Country. Lake|Flato are masters of the porch and have lifted this expertise into the sky, locating a series of outdoor spaces complete with hog wire enclosures and wood soffits on different levels. While the atrium is lively and loud, these spaces are pleasantly quiet. An eastern roof terrace concludes the trek with open-air views of downtown. The exterior, clad in tan limestone and gray metal panels, is the least successful part of the library. Corrugated profiles of rust-colored perforated metal stand off the southern facade and screen glazed areas elsewhere. Looking up, it is a busy assembly whose articulation is sourced from Austin’s contemporary vernacular, a language that Lake|Flato established and refined over the last thirty years. The library is one of the firm’s tallest projects, and perhaps that is part of the difficulty: Translating a style that works for low-lying buildings engaged with their landscape into a vertical urban condition is a significant design challenge. Inside, the atrium and central core break up the floor plates into a ring with interior stacks and seating on both perimeters. The verticality of the scheme promotes visual adjacency rather than physical togetherness. Throughout, the architecture creates comfortable vantage points, whose cumulative result is a casual publicness generated by all of the ways to see across and out of the building. The achievement and difficulty of this library is that its interior unfolds in a uniform topology of amenity space. The interior, shaped by its meeting rooms and furniture selections, feels more like the trays of a tech office or a co-working space than a library. In a familiar rupture of form and function, the architecture is decent in its design, while powerful in experience. The building is a constructed chakra of Austin’s energy right now, vortexed into being from the frenzy of development at work in the city. It feels like the karstic landscape and the accepted way of building upon it is peeled up and knotted into a bowline of pure Austin-ness. The library succeeds when one navigates it as a civic terrain—inside and out—and not explicitly as a distinct piece of architecture. It is a project that the public will embrace but will, despite its numerous charms, leave some architects wanting more. The central public library provides an image and experience of Austin today. But if this is the city now, where is it going? Outside the library’s buzz, the growing forest of towers, stitched together by creekside paths, offers one speculative way forward. Austin’s new Central Public Library will serve its publics for decades to come, as the city grows up around and out from it. If, as one Texan argued in The New Yorker last year, America’s future can be seen in the challenges of the Lone Star state, then what happens here takes on even greater meaning. What should this future look like? The eyes of Texas are beginning to see.
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BIG unveils first pro sports stadium for Austin

Austin Sports & Entertainment, together with New York–based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Austin-based STG Design, has released a first look at plans for its 1.3-million-square-foot, multipurpose collection of interlinked stadiums. The new East Austin District bills itself as Austin’s first pro-sports stadium and will host workspaces, convention space, retail, medical facilities, and a huge music arena. Anchored by a 40,000-seat stadium designed for soccer and rugby games and a connected 15,000-seat multipurpose arena, East Austin District will be a loose collection of buildings covered by a shared, latticed rooftop. The checkerboard roof, taking inspiration from the Jefferson Grid, will segment each area by function while still allowing visitors to experience a variety of indoor and outdoor programs. Resembling enormous, overlapping shingles, the red photovoltaic roof will allow the district to be self-sufficient, and eventually export electricity to the rest of eastern Austin once the infrastructure is in place. “Like a collective campus rather than a monolithic stadium, the East Austin District unifies all the elements of rodeo and soccer into a village of courtyards and canopies. Embracing Austin’s local character and culture, the East Austin District is a single destination composed of many smaller structures under one roof,” said Bjarke Ingels, BIG's founding partner. Although each building greatly differs in function, they’re united through all-wood interiors that reference Austin’s characteristic barns and porches. Eight outdoor courtyards are interspersed throughout the district, further highlighting the connection to Austin’s porch and patio culture. Expected to be used throughout the year, the outdoor spaces will host public parks and plazas, food trucks, and smaller concerts. While BIG’s plans for East Austin District are still conceptual, Austin Sports & Entertainment has been pushing to raise funding for the project, although they have declined to disclose the projected cost. If successful, the district would be built over the site of the annual Rodeo Austin with the event moving to the development’s secondary arena. “We are in active discussions with leading global sports and entertainment organizations, including our partner Rodeo Austin as well as various corporations, to serve as anchors to accelerate the goals of the Spirit of East Austin Forum,” said Sean Foley & Andrew Nestor, co-managing partners of Austin Sports & Entertainment, in a statement. If investors for the project can be found, construction is expected to begin in 2018 and finish by 2021.