Archives for 2008

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.

Lake/Flato will design new Central Library in Downtown Austin

Site of Downtown Austins new Central Libary

Site of Downtown Austin's new Central Libary

Lake Flato has been awarded the design contract for Downtown Austin’s new Central Library.  They’ve got $90MM to work with to build 250,000 square feet by 2013.

Below is an estimated timeline for the new Central Library project:

  • May 2009 ~ Citizen/Stakeholder input meetings –Co-sponsored by Library Commission and Library Foundation June 2009 ~ Design phase begins
  • Spring 2011 ~ Design development completed
  • Winter 2011 ~ Construction begins
  • Fall 2013 ~ Construction complete
  • Spring/Summer 2014-Grand Opening

The site sits partially within a capitol view corridor, so the future building can only be mid-rise and will likely only by three stories.  In that regard I like this choice of location.  Still, I think this is a poor choice of location in terms of accessibility.  I’ve seen plenty of proposed transit maps for ‘future’ Austin, and not a single one shows rail stopping near the library.  The people that would benefit the most from this new Central Library are, in my opinion, going to benefit the most from mass transit that can get them to the library!   It was an easy choice for the City because they own the land; however, the city could have used condemnation to select a better site that would be more accessible.  I expect the building will be beautiful.  I just hope it gets used.

Jude Galligan

SOLD! Penthouse Condos #305

Penthouse Condos in Downtown Austin

Penthouse Condos in Downtown Austin

LP: $119,000
SP: $109,000
SF: 420

1212 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701