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KevinFromTexas Feb 18, 2008 10:38 PM

AUSTIN | Museum Tower | 30 FLOORS
Hines Interests LP is planning a new 30-story office tower in downtown Austin that will be designed by Cesar Pelli's firm Pelli Clarke Pelli. It will be part of a complex containing the new home for the Austin Museum of Art. In all, the project is said to include 465,000 square feet of space. This includes 40,000 square feet of museum space in a separate 2 to 3-story building that will be engineered so that more floors can be added later. Construction is expected to start sometime next year with completion set for 2011. This would be the first major office project in Austin since the Frost Bank Tower opened in 2004.

Tomorrow the Austin American-Statesman will release the rendering for the project. I'll post it later tonight if no one else does.

From the Austin American Statesman


Austin Museum of Art revives downtown building plan
Proposed museum with adjacent office tower is third attempt at a permanent main home.

By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Saturday, February 16, 2008

For the third time in more than 20 years, the Austin Museum of Art has announced plans to build a permanent downtown art museum.

Rather than construct a building that will fill the entire museum-owned block at West Fourth and Guadalupe streets, south of Republic Square Park, museum officials confirmed Friday that they will build a more modestly scaled $23 million facility that will share the block with a proposed 30-story office tower.

Museum officials said that they have entered into an agreement with Hines Interests LP, a Houston-based development firm, that will see a 40,000-square-foot museum on the east side of the block and a 425,000-square-foot office building occupy the west side. Hines will purchase the property from the museum. Museum officials declined to disclose the sale price of what is estimated to be half of a prime downtown lot or what the specific division of the lot will be.

"With its permanent home, the museum will join other key new civic facilities including the new airport, convention center, City Hall, performing arts center and eventually a new main library. These key achievements signal that together we are reaching a new stage in our development as a city, and in the ways Austin serves our citizens and visitors," said Dana Friis-Hansen, museum executive director. "We're proud of what we've been able to accomplish in our current location, but it's time for us to move out of a temporary renovated space in a former bank building to a new home that will address the growing demand for the visual arts in the region."

Building renderings and a capital campaign plan are due to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Both the museum and the office tower will be designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. In Austin, the firm is responsible for the master plan of the redesigned University of Texas campus.

The museum selected Hines after 14 developers submitted proposals.

Hines Interests bought the 22-story office tower 301 Congress in June. In 2004, Hines sold its 26-story Bank of America center and low-rise annex on Congress Avenue. Among many projects Hines has developed around the world is the Wortham Center in Houston, home to the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet.

Hines' high-rise would be the first new downtown office building since the 33-story Frost Bank Tower opened in January 2004. Frost Bank Tower was the first new downtown skyscraper to be built on Congress Avenue since the mid-1980s.

Hines did not return calls seeking comment.

Charles Heimsath, a local real estate consultant, said he thinks there will be sufficient demand for downtown office space by the time the new tower is completed in 2011.

"The important point to focus on is not whether or not there is demand today for a 30-story tower, but whether or not there will be demand in two to three years," said Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research

Heimsath said the downtown office market, unlike some of the suburban Austin markets, is experiencing a surge in demand, driven in part by the dramatic changes going on downtown, including a residential building boom and a marked retail resurgence.

Museum officials said the design of their new building is in a preliminary stage. However, they say they hope to include 10,000 square feet of galleries, 2,900 square feet of education and activity rooms, outdoor space for public sculpture and a front entrance opening to Republic Square. The design would also incorporate a possible future expansion, chiefly adding more stories to what is likely to be a two- or three-story museum.

Ground is expected to be broken in 2009 with completion of both buildings projected for 2011.

At 40,000 square feet, the proposed new museum would more than double the museum's existing space at 823 Congress Ave., where it rents the first floor of an office building. The museum, which has a $4.3 million annual budget, also has the historical 12-acre Laguna Gloria site in West Austin, which includes a restored 1916 villa that hosts small exhibitions and studio buildings for the museum's art school. The museum has a small permanent collection but mostly features traveling exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and photography.

The first time the museum, then known as Laguna Gloria Art Museum, proposed building in downtown Austin was in the early 1980s. In 1985, voters approved $14.7 million in tax-supported bonds for the project. But the real estate bust of the late 1980s sent the project into a tailspin. Also, bickering among major arts groups caused the City Council to rescind its support of the then public-private venture.

Plans by famed architect Robert Venturi were shelved after $3 million was spent on design and administrative fees.

In 1995, the museum moved to its current location on Congress Avenue and made another bid to build downtown. In 1998, architect Richard Gluckman was selected to design a sleek, modern 140,000-square-foot building. A $64 million capital campaign was launched. At the same time, the museum returned $13.7 million in city bond money after museum leaders said they wanted control of their project and its land.

However, in 2001 museum officials decided to build the project in stages and settled on a $43 million first phase.

But then Austin's high-tech economy fizzled even more and after the abrupt departure of then-director Elizabeth Ferrer in 2002, supporters of the project retreated. By early 2004, the Gluckman design had been scrapped. Of the $14.25 million the museum had raised for the project, all but $860,000 was spent on architect fees and fundraising and marketing expenses.

James2390 Feb 19, 2008 3:24 AM

This is really exciting news. I'd be very interested to see what this is going to look like.

GoldenBoot Feb 19, 2008 8:23 PM

I don't know...I like the sleekness of it. But, I really wish the architects & developers of these new towers would do something more with the crowns - instead of being boringly flat and boxy.

Saddle Man Feb 19, 2008 9:24 PM

Hopefully this is just the first draft.

Jdawgboy Feb 19, 2008 9:39 PM

Its ugly and I hope it definatly is not the final design.

KevinFromTexas Feb 19, 2008 10:25 PM

Here's a bigger rendering of it. I'm not crazy about the design. Come on Cesar, put a crown on it!

urbanlife Feb 19, 2008 10:41 PM

I am curious what the skin of the building will look like when finished, that will make or break this building because in reality, it is still just a big box.

Coldrsx Feb 20, 2008 5:40 PM

with the right glass this could look euro hot.....boxes can be so clean and crisp.

i like the look thus far.

jowens Feb 20, 2008 10:20 PM

The "crown" reminds me of a building in Singapore called One George Street.

James2390 Feb 21, 2008 6:14 AM

I like the design, but I wish the top was a little fancier.

GoldenBoot Feb 21, 2008 3:24 PM


Originally Posted by jowens (Post 3367916)
The "crown" reminds me of a building in Singapore called One George Street.

Yes...You're right. I saw this building last year and really thought it was interesting. However, Pelli's Austin Museum Tower is much less impressive and should be shorter. One George Street, Singapore, is 23 stories and 502' tall; and I have a hard time thinking the proposed Museum Tower will be taller than 450'.

Lecom Feb 23, 2008 12:06 AM

Not bad. Any skyline renders?

Dragonfire Feb 23, 2008 12:28 AM

I think it's funny how everyone in these forums who lives in Austin wants it to be something more than a big glass box while those who don't live in Austin think it's nice.

Great_Hizzy Mar 30, 2008 2:49 PM


Originally Posted by urbanlife (Post 3365259)
I am curious what the skin of the building will look like when finished, that will make or break this building because in reality, it is still just a big box.

I agree. Boxes in and of themselves don't displease me (in fact, one of my favorite buildings in the world is in Houston--the black box that used to be the Reliant Energies Plaza). It's all in the skin. If done tastefully, it could have a very respectable impact on the skyline.

NYC2ATX Mar 31, 2008 12:08 AM

I think Austin needs some boxes so it's skyline has diversity. Too many spires is just as bad as too many boxes I think. It's all about a balance.

Jdawgboy Mar 31, 2008 12:57 AM

We already have several box towers in the city. Honestly take that rendering, put black steel and black windows and it would look just like the Bank of America Building.

KevinFromTexas Mar 31, 2008 3:55 AM

Yeah, we already have several boxes. Bank of America Center, Chase Bank Tower, Dobie Center. Then there's several shorter buildings that are boxy. As for spires, 360 Condominiums will be Austin's first building with a spire. We've never had one before. And we only have two other buildings that have flagpoles, so we don't have anything that resembles them really. And for now, there don't appear to be any more proposals for buildings with spires either. Although, Novare is planning 3 other buildings in Austin, so one of them could have a spire.

Thymant Mar 7, 2009 9:26 PM

Cancelled, so this is done!

Boquillas Mar 7, 2009 10:34 PM

Done? Damn. Although I always felt a project like this might have been better suited for Fort Worth, which has such an outstanding museum district, and some truly stunning museum architecture. This might have complimented it perfectly.

shakman Mar 9, 2009 3:52 PM


Originally Posted by Thymant (Post 4128326)
Cancelled, so this is done!

Is it possible that you can also post your source? That should go for everyone when such an "annoucement" is made, please.

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