where are Austin's baby boomers?

Interesting article in CultureMap about the lack of baby boomers in Austin. About 9.5 percent of Austin's population is over 65 as compared to Tucson, Arizona, (17.7 percent) and Jacksonville, Florida, (14.2 percent; although comparing Austin to cities in Arizona and Florida, the geezer capitols of the country, doesn't seem quite appropriate).

We built our place with the plan of dying in it (I figure I'll go quite dramatically in the kitchen while making waffles), but with increased valuations and concomitant property tax increases, I'm worried. I could easily see our post-retirement monthly property tax bill on the order of $2,500 to $3,000 a month.

Yikes! That doesn't leave much in the budget for dog food (aka dinner).

Perhaps when we retire we'll cash out and build someone else...


dancing with architecture: MiCo in South Miami Beach

Although we didn't explicitly set out to see Miami Contemporary architecture (MiCo), we did make of point of stopping in at the Herzog and de Meuron parking garage and the Gehry museum (and taking photos of various other MiCo structures).

The Herzog and de Meuron parking garage was stunning. The photo above is looking up at the different parking decks, none of which share the same footprint. There's retail on the ground floor, an odd-space-out glass retail space on the fifth floor, and a rooftop restaurant. The edge fencing was translucent wires, giving a very open and slightly dangerous feel to the space.

Miami Beach also sports an oddly calm Frank Gehry. The landscaping was the most interesting part with bougainvillea corrals sprouting on the grounds and an outdoor movie theater.

People gathering up for a showing.

Back of the projector.

How Gehry dissuades skaters.

And then there were various interesting buildings we happened upon during our quests about town...

This was a bizarre boat-like building.

The coolest Walgreens in the world?

A mere glimpse of the Herzog and de Mueron museum on the mainland out of a taxi window...


lingering landscapes...

We still have unfinished bidness in the yard that we hope to (finally...) finish this year. All it takes is resolve (and lots of bucks). In retrospect, we wish we had bitten the budgetary bullet and gotten as much of this done when the house was getting built. Doing it later adds additional costs and logistics. On the other hand, living with the unfinished landscape also allowed us to refine what it is we wanted; something that's hard to do when the finished product is only on paper.

Inspired by our New Year's Resolutions (and a bonus or two), we've embarked on finishing up a chunk of the landscaping. The landscaper stopped by yesterday to talk about getting some work done.

1. the planters

"The Patiogram"

The architects envisioned planters framing in the patio. Perhaps it's the power of suggestion, but there is indeed a spatial need to hem in the space. Currently, the patio is a bit forlorn in its openness. The envisioned planters will frame an outdoor room, creating intimacy and coziness.

What we're going with here is slightly different than what's shown and envisioned ni the plan (sorry architects...), partly because we have slightly different goals and partly because the paver installers didn't exactly follow the plan. For the planter on the lower left of The Patiogram, we're putting in a pond and planter. The architects envisioned planters made of raw plate steel which would then rust. We're not into that rusting thing, so we're going with board-formed concrete using 2x4s to evoke the siding of the house. The pond/planter will be about two feet tall so people can use the structure as seating during shindigs.

My half-assed drawing of what that thing will look like.

For the two planters on the upper part of The Patiogram, we're going with concrete for the uppermost one and white powder-coated steel on the lower one (not enough room for another concrete planter there). The concrete planter will be two-feet tall (again to accommodate seating), and the steel one will be one-foot tall (for aesthetic reasons). The two slide past each other in classic de Stijl motion.

Concrete on the left, steel on the right.

2. the grass sliver

This long rectangle of gravel next to the house has turned out to be too much gray, so we're breaking it up a bit by adding in a smaller sliver of zoysia. Some green on that side of the patio will nicely frame the patio space and tie the area to the rest of the yard.

3. squaring off

Amidst the mayhem of finishing the house, we left this gap in the pavers purposefully undone until we decided what to do. If you look closely at The Patiogram, the architects showed an irregular shape. When I asked them about it, they described it as more of a placeholder until we figured out what we wanted. Since we didn't know what we wanted, we just had the installers leave the gap somewhat unfinished. We're going to have the landscapers square the thing off and call it a day, something we should have done the first go-around.

4. master garden

We gave the landscaper carte blanche for this north-facing space outside the master bedroom. He likes the statue, so he's planning on making a de Stijl concrete base to elevate it above the plantings. Because the windows hang low, he's going to keep the plantings low as well with a train of small bushes that march around the corner. He'll then place intermediate plants between the bushes, concrete base, and ground cover. Should be soopercool!

5. a step in the right direction

The stage needs a step (or two), so we're going to put a board-formed concrete step here to be followed up with a lower height (and smaller) wooden step. Steps ideally should have a 7-inch rise, so we'll need two steps eventually. Having a hunk of concrete over here will also be great for materially tieing in this side of the back yard with the rest of the space.

6. art towers

And then we have the infamous art towers, paint filter frames made of iconel, remnants of a project from the bride's day job. These babies will go in the front yard to fill in a space begging for them.


We're using the same landscapers that put in the original landscaping at our house, Michael Biechlin of Groundmasters LanDesign. They are easygoing, comfortable with Modern, precise, clean, and reasonably priced. Hard to have any issues with that! The final landscape design is an amalgam of the desires of the architects, a landscape architect (who disappeared after giving us the initial concept), the builder, Michael Biechlin, and, of course, us. We're pretty happy with it so far.


dancing AND architecture: SXSW 2016 in Austin, Texas

We wandered the town for three days during SXSW 2016 and saw 50 bands. 50 bands! Our days started about 7am at the KUTX shows and then, for the most part, we wandered the town for random bands to hear (only September Girls and Peaches were on our "must see" list). We ended each day with a couple hotel lobby shows before returning home about 8pm to shower, sleep, and start it all over again the next morning. Yes, we were tired, but this is like treasure hunting where gems are around every corner. The jewels we found this year include Saint Sister, jungles!!!, Sisters, Riothorse Royale, birdcloud, and Tacocat.

1. Rattletree

2. Twin Peaks

3. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

4. White Denim

5. Saint Sister

6. September Girls



Tara McPherson

8. The Away Days


9. Jade Jackson

10. jungles!!!

11. Reatmo

12. The Battlefield

13. Ki

14. Flor

15. Sisters

16. Atash

17. Basia Bulat

18. Robert Ellis

19. John Doe

20. Possessed by Paul James

21. Kelley Mickwee

22. Riothorse Royale

23. Foreign Resort

24. Luke Winslow-King

25. The Wild Reeds

26. Sweet Spirit

27. Peaches

28. Bearson

29. Tangerine

30. Antonette Goroch

31. Tameca Jones

32. Matthew Logan Vasquez

33. Hayes Carll

34. Kacy and Clayton

35. The Quebe Sisters

36. Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow

37. Hinds

38. Babyshakes

39. birdcloud

40. Gravys Drop

41. John Wesley Coleman

42. Mystery Lights

43. Sunflower Bean

44. Tacocat

45. Scully

46. Guantanamo Baywatch

47. Weenus

48. Leslie Powell

49. Luke Wade

50. Nortec Collective

Mies letting us know that he didn't appreciate getting breakfast so early and dinner so late. He, like so many natives, is not a fan of SXSW.