Higher & Better Use For Downtown Alleys

Higher & Better Use For Downtown Alleys

This effort could yield some cool results.  The idea is in focus as Art Alliance Austin will feature in April an alley installation adjacent to the Austin Club.

Councilmember Tovo’s office is capturing the attention of downtown stakeholder groups, including Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association and the Downtown Commission, which has spun off a working group, for consideration of a masterplan for downtown Austin’s alleyways.

“Traditionally [alleys] are associated with garbage collection and can be associated with crime,” Tovo says “so, there’s the notion of kind of taking another look at them and really thinking about what kind of potential they might bring to our downtown area.” – KUT News

Repurposing alleys is not a new idea, and many cities around the world have embraced them as valuable real estate.

In fact, the concept for revitalizing downtown alleys has come before Austin City Council at least once before.  Back in 1971, architect David Graeber proposed repurposing the alleys behind 6th Street, from the Driskill Hotel to Waller Creek.

“By establishing cafes, boutiques, business offices and unusual shops, the alley could be a major economic stimulant to the downtown area.  Businesses could face either the alley or 6th Street, or more advantageously, both.” – David Graeber

Austin Architect, David Graeber's "Serendipity Alley" concept from the 1970s.  Daily Texan, September 24, 1971

Austin Architect, David Graeber’s “Serendipity Alley” concept from the 1970s. Daily Texan, September 24, 1971

[Image credit Art Alliance Austin/Creative Action and TBG/Dan Cheetham (Fyoog) and Michelle Tarsney]

Fairy Tale Themes Come to Life in 2nd Street Shop Windows

Fairy Tale Themes Come to Life in 2nd Street Shop Windows

One more unique and wonderful thing to do with friends and family this holiday season…
Head on over to the 2nd Street District for another edition of the Holiday Window Walk! Twenty retail windows have been done up by design and fine arts students from our area colleges in beautiful themes on classic fairy tales. It all kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 8th and will be up through New Year’s. Come by and join the festivities!
Here’s a nice little story on Amanda Ivarra’s blog, Miss A, that tells how this all came to be.

ZOMG – Topfer Theatre at ZACH Theatre Brings Austin Theatre Back to the Forefront of Austin Culture

ZOMG – Topfer Theatre at ZACH Theatre Brings Austin Theatre Back to the Forefront of Austin Culture

I was lucky enough to be invited to a personal tour of ZACH Theatre’s new mainstage, The Topfer (pronounced top-fur) Theatre earlier this week.  This theatre allows ZACH to truly make the jump from a small professional theatre to premiere regional theatre by providing a new, state of the art performance facility as part of downtown Austin’s already growing culture and arts scene. Downtown Austin needs a real regional theatre, and this structure and the excitement it will bring to the theatre and arts community is a huge step in the right direction.

Per an article in the Austin Chronicle (link) – ZACH Theatre had been contemplating building a third theatre in its complex as early at 1985, when they held over some funds from that year’s bond election to help fund building a third theatre.  In 2000, the economy stalled, putting the project on hold, but,  through a kick-start of funding of $10 million through the 2006 City of Austin bond election, and then fueled by direct private donation – the project was revived in 2007.  Overall, it’s a $22 million project, and they still need to raise about $2 million for completion.

The ZACH Theatre compound falls within the Zilker Neighborhood Association, but it is easily accessible to downtown Austin condos and homes and, really, feels like a part of downtown to many. I was told the ZNA was supportive the variances Zach Scott needed to build the Topfer Theatre.

As a college Theatre Major and all around theatre nerd, I was soooooo impressed with the Topfer Theatre and Kuykendall Stage.

Some tidbits:

  1. Celebrated Austin actress Karen Kuykendall has her ashes kept under the stage, isn’t that crazy?! (What’s even crazier is that there are no “r”s in “Kuykendall”!)
  2. The Topfer Theatre has a LEED Silver Certification
  3. Over 70 new parking spots have been added to the ZACH Theatre compound
  4. 40 new trees were added to the lot, as well
  5. The AC and other mechanical components of the theatre have a separate foundation from the stage – this is to minimize any possibility of noise and rumbling during performances.
  6. The theatre’s design is taken from the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago (the house is a little narrower)
  7. The theatre house seats ~420
  8. The theatre was designed by the same architects who did The W – Andersson-Wise Architects
Now, for the good stuff – the pictures (please note that the theatre is still having final touches done to it – not fully finished yet)!

For more incredible pictures and theatre fun facts – check out Bryan Kosarek’s Gay in Austin Texas Blog.

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Interested in searching for Austin homes for sale in or near Downtown Austin?  Be sure to check out our property search to view Austin homes for sale.

Additionally, here are some condominiums in Downtown Austin that are near the theatre – to learn more about these individual buildings, visit their pages:

 

O. Henry Pun Off at Brush Square Park in Downtown Austin May 19th

O. Henry Pun Off at Brush Square Park in Downtown Austin May 19th

Yes. Yes, O. yes.  It’s that time again, folks.  Time for the 35th annual O. Henry Pun Off.  Taking place this Saturday (May 19th, 2012) at the O. Henry Museum (adjacent to Brush Square), this delightful competition celebrates the pun with two separate competitions – Punniest in Show and Punslingers.

However, a video is worth a million words – so, check out some of these punny finals videos from previous years: [Read more…]