When architect Brett Rhode set out to design what would become Austin’s tallest tower, he and the building’s developer envisioned a high-rise like no other on the skyline — one that would make a bold statement and be a distinctive landmark.
Now, as residents continue moving into the 58-story Independent condominium and the finishing touches are put on, that mission has been accomplished, observers say.
The building is distinguished by its cubed, offset design, one that is unique to Austin, but not to some other cities around the world, and has earned it the nickname the “Jenga tower.”
The tower, which broke ground in 2016, is billed as the tallest residential high-rise west of the Mississippi River. Located on 1.7 acres at the northeast corner of West Third and West streets, the building has a value of more than $300 million, its developers say.
Austin architect Jim Susman, a principal at STG Design, recently told the Statesman that the tower “represents a significant departure from many of Austin’s more traditional high-rise forms with its dynamic stacking of floors by blocks.”
The building’s “height and unique profile will inherently give it an iconic presence in the city’s skyline, and likely open the door for still more intriguing designs” in the future, Susman said.
In a recent first-hand account chronicling how the design came about, Rhode said he hopes the building “inspires others to be bold on the skyline.”
Members of the press got their first official look inside the building this week. During a guided tour, Rhode said his aim was to “make something very noticeable, very innovative,” on Austin’s skyline — one that has under gone dramatic change over the past two decades as successive waves of ever -taller buildings have left their mark.
“We just love the way it turned out,” said Rhode, whose Austin-based firm Rhode-Partners designed both the Independent tower and its interiors.
At 675 feet high, the Independent towers over Austin’s former tallest building, the 56-story Austonian, by just two stories and two feet. The Independent features 363 luxury condominiums, which over time have ranged in price from the $400,000s to more than $5 million.
Amenities include a children’s playroom and playground, dog park and dogwashing station, pool, fitness center, yoga room, owners’ lounge, guest suites, theater room and a business center with conference rooms.
Jennifer Seay, founder and president of Austin-based Art + Artisans, curated 80 pieces of art throughout the building by 23 Texas, national and international artists. Seay said the collection “adds a heightened sense of luxury to The Independent. ““We wanted each piece to feel hand-picked, personal and thoughtfully selected, and to contribute to the joy residents feel coming home to this beautiful space,” Seay said.