Archives for December 2008

21c gets glowing review by NPR

by jude galligan

21c museum residences

21c museum residences

Austin’s 21c museum residences and hotel may be on hold for now, but this morning NPR gave a glowing review of the original concept in Louisville, Kentucky. The NPR story incorrectly states that the Austin 21c is under construction; however, Marriott’s decision to not build 1,000 hotel rooms should reflect favorably on 21c’s pro-formas. 21c was originally planned for development at the Whitley paper building on 3rd and San Jacinto, however, plans changed to locate the building(s) at Red River and Cesar Chavez, along Waller Creek.

link to article
link to NPR audio

The Marriott debacle

Proposed Marriott on Congress Ave in Downtown Austin

Proposed Marriott on Congress Ave in Downtown Austin

The inopportune demolition of the Las Manitas restaurant and neighboring buildings has sparked some discussion in the blogosphere. On December 5th, it was announced that the 1,000 room Marriott hotel development was put on hold. Chris Bradford over at Austin Contrarian suggests we charge developers a fee if they delay development of blighted block.

Time will tell how long it takes Marriott to develop to sell the site. One reason to be optimistic that Marriott may still have sincere interest in developing the hotel is that Downtown Austin hotels routinely reach full capacity. Meanwhile, wrapping a block in chain link fence and leaving it to sid idly will not be taken kindly by local stakeholders. I would like to see City Council implement maximum development timelines for projects like this and begin to revoke concessions initially granted to the project.

AustinTowers has some photos of the demolished block.

Austin Fog

Fog over Downtown Austin

Fog over Downtown Austin

This morning Austin is covered in a thick blanket of fog.  This is the best fog I’ve seen in years, and a quick search through Google images queues up some picturesque photos that comes with a fog like this.  (link)

/it’s a slow news week.
//and, I didn’t want to jump on this bandwagon.

Required reading

How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

Last year I purged my book shelves by giving away hundreds of books that I’ve collected over the years.  I kept a dozen, or so, that were too significant to give up.   Since it’s been a slow news week for Downtown Austin, I thought I would use this time to recommend a couple of books that you can read over the holidays.  After reading these books it will come as no surprise why hundreds of thousands of people across the country are retreating back to the cities after 50 years of suburban growth.

  • “How Buildings Learn” by Stewart Brand
    This book is interesting to me, not only because it has lots of pictures of old architecture, rather because Stewart Brand attempts to follow how the greatest buildings change use over the course time.
  • “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs
    Long considered the urban planner’s bible, this book should be required reading for our elected officials (City Council and staff, County Commissioners, CAMPO board)

Extra credit
I encourage you to check out another book by Stewart Brand “The Clock of The Long Now“.  This book is about many things including how civilizations evolve, how the digital age changes the way we archive and access our collective knowledge, and more.  Throughout the book is a story about the design of a 10,000 clock that will be installed in the side of a mountain.  Great read.