a recent stroll through crane-heavy downtown Austin

A couple weekends ago, the bride and I decided to go for a stroll along the west side of downtown to get a preview peek at the library, gawk at all the sprouting new towers, and partake of drinks and snacks at Corner. This was our old hood while we were firing architects, deciding what to do after firing architects, hiring new architects, and building our house. A lot has changed since we moved out.

Here's the back of the new central library(*homeless shelter), designed by Lake|Flato. Interesting that the library carries materials from Antoine Predock's design for our city hall down the street to this location. The grand opening is in a few weeks. I hope to go to get a better look at it.

These beauties, defining the fence at the back of the property, are made of concrete.

Streetside patios. Lots of nice details here.

The creek along the library.

Looking back across the creek to the library. The open space around the creek allows a double-facade for the building.

New building.

Due to the shifting volumes, this building is known locally as the Jenga Tower.

Another new building.

Predock's "stinger" protruding off city hall.

This is a new space downtown called Fare Ground that lounges in the plaza of One Congress Plaza. The space is not quite yet done (a security guard yipped at me for taking photos [but not before I took a bunch of photos]). Local luminary Michael Hsu is the architect. And in the process of researching this post, I discovered a new reason to live: a favorite restaurant, Dai Due, is opening a taco joint here! Wholly kerrapp!!!!

We've been wanting to check out Corner at the new JW Marriott and were not disappointed. The entire corner of the space is a collapsible curtain wall that completely opens to the street, a great example of a large building effectively engaging the street. And the food was great, even after stifling the latent anger over the loss of Las Manitas, it's soul buried under the footprint of the full restaurant next door.

an inexplicalbe pile of bloo poo...



haiku for the book "Richard Meier" by Claudia Conforti and Marzia Marandola

whiter than flat white
and more Corbu than Corbu
jewels on the landscape...

This is a whisper of a book about our favorite living Modern architect I picked up at Half Price. And even if he wasn't living, he would still be among our favorites. Back when the megalotto approached a billion dollars, we both agreed that commissioning Mr. Meier to design a house for us would be high on our list of splurging.

This book serves as a good introduction to Meier; a taster that will lead to finding the main course. The book has a somewhat brief introduction with photos of some of his works.

Not surprisingly, Meier was born to Germans. He received a degree from Cornell in 1957 and, after finishing two years of military service, toured European architecture in 1959. Upon visiting the Weissenhoff Estate in Stuttgart, he became enamored with the original manifestations of Modernism, particularly those of Le Corbusier. Meier then hightailed it to Paris to seek a position in Corbusier's studio. Sadly, Corbu rebuffed Meier's offer. Later, Meier was able to hold a long conversation with Corbu at the opening of the Cite Universitaire, a meeting that strongly influenced his career (despite Corbu once again rejecting his services). In Corbu's stead, Meier worked with SOM from 1959 to 1960 and with Bauhauser Marcel Breuer from 1961 to 1963 before opening his own studio in 1963. 

Similar to Corbusier, Meier was a voracious painter and shared an art studio with Michael Graves. Just as Corbu infused his architecture with art, Meier concluded that "architecture is an art of substance." Although Meier is clearly influenced by Corbusier--particularly Corbu's manifesto "Towards an Architecture--Meier's designs are much different in materials and in how they engage with people and the environment. In an homage to Corbusier, Meier keeps a model of Villa Savoye in his office.

Some random photos or Meier's work, not necessarily covered in the book: