At 58 floors, “The Independent” is, for the time being, the tallest structure in Austin and the tallest residential tower west of the Mississippi.
“We wanted to do something that would kind of capture the public’s imagination,” said architect Brett Rhode with Rhode Partners.
“Out of the 363 we literally have a handful left sprinkled throughout the building,” said Ryan Fetgatter, a representative from developer Aspen Heights.
Affordability is a major challenge in Austin, but projects like The Independent do help the issue with their dollars.
“It was about $2.5 million, I think the largest single project contribution into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund ever in Austin and we also contributed a million dollars to local infrastructure projects,” Fetgatter said.
Some of the unique features of “The Independent” include stunning views from the treadmill to the board room, an “infinity” pool, and art from all over the world, as well as local artists.
“We were trying to create these distinct experiences in each space in the building so pieces that had a lot of drama and movement,” said Jennifer Seay with Art + Artisans Consulting.
Rhode talked about the term of endearment people seem to have given The Independent: the “Jenga” tower.
“As a kid I never had a Jenga game so it kind of came as a surprise to me but you know I like the idea of it being called ‘Jenga’ because it does sort of bring up this sort of childlike sense of wonder,” Rhode said.
The Independent is just the beginning.
Earlier this summer, developers revealed an extensive plan for a mixed-use project transforming the Austin American-Statesman site on Lady Bird Lake.
Another tower on its way is the 6 X Guadalupe with office space, retail and multi-family units.
Gensler Design director George Blume said the beauty of 6 X Guadalupe is not the height, but its existence alone, as it stacks two high rise towers on top of each other to “assemble a super high rise.”
“From there the geometry is a sculpture of the Capitol View Corridor and the city’s zoning requirements,” Blume said. “The collision of these factors symbolizes Austin’s idiosyncratic approach to all things in work and life. Outdoor parks and terraces ladder up the building at the various transitions, a nod to Austin’s passion for outdoor lifestyle.”
A new Capitol mall on North Congress is also on the way, and so much more.
“It’s incredibly gratifying and it’s exciting to be an architect in Austin now,” Rhode said.
“Who knows what Austin’s going to look like in 10 years?” Fetgatter said. “It’s a great place to live…we all love Austin and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.”