13 Iconic Architectural Masterpieces in Austin
Impressive high-rises continue to soar upwards in downtown Austin, but some of the most impressive and inventive architectural works are found on the blocks between. From bridges to hotels both new and old, these buildings offer unparalleled architecture and design, making them iconic additions to the city’s landscape.
Austin Public Library
Completed in the fall of 2017, this Lake Flato-designed building has made international waves and was even named one of the 2018 World’s Greatest Places by Time magazine. The Austin Public Library is made up of six floors connected by seemingly floating staircases and features a rooftop garden with views of the river, a giant wall clock spanning multiple floors and nearly 400,000 books housed inside.
Modeled after the United States Capitol, the Texas Capitol was opened in 1888 and is reminiscent of a neo-Renaissance style featuring domes, columns and plasterwork associated with classical architecture. The pink granite is sourced from Granite Mountain near Marble Falls and has propelled this Capitol to be among the most iconic in the U.S. with its unique hue.
After four years of construction, Fairmont Austin opened its doors in 2018. At 1,4000,000 square feet, Fairmont Austin is the largest in the hotel’s chain and surpasses all other Austin hotels in terms of height. A skyway connection to the Austin Convention Center, rooftop pool, and multiple unique hotel bars make the Fairmont an architectural masterpiece to experience.
Frost Bank Tower
One of the first towering buildings to be constructed in Austin, Frost Bank Tower was a subject of controversy as it changed the skyline. Resembling an owl when viewed at a side angle, the tower was the tallest building in Austin for many years and paved the way for today’s impressive high-rises.
Austin City Hall
Constructed before the slew of high-rises started to pop up in Second Street District, Austin City Hall was built to reflect the city’s forward-thinking mindset that embraces creative thinking, tech and the arts. The high-tech looking building is made from recycled materials and boasts clean modern lines, intriguing glass paneling and solar panels.
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library features a nearly windowless exterior that contrasts sharply with the glass skyscrapers being constructed just a few miles south in downtown Austin. Completed in 1971, the structure’s most dynamic feature is the Great Hall featuring four stories of archives.
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
Following 10 years of construction, The Long Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2008. Reusing over 90 percent of the original domed Lester E. Palmer Auditorium’s building materials, The Long Center features a gorgeous exterior with columns surrounding the patio overlooking the Austin skyline.
Pennybacker Bridge (Austin 360 Bridge)
A popular site for tourists and locals alike, the Pennybacker Bridge is a through-arch bridge crossing Lake Austin. Said to be one of the most scenic urban drives in Texas, the steel bridge has a weathered rust finish that allows the structure to seamlessly blend into the hilly country landscape.
The University of Texas Tower
The most recognizable building on the University of Texas campus and one of the most iconic structures in Austin, the Main Building at UT rises 30 floors. One of the most intriguing things about the main building is the fact that nothing can block the view of the Capitol from the UT tower, making the steps of the tower the perfect place to capture some amazing views.
Butterfly Bridge (2nd Street Bridge)
Extending from 2nd Street to Shoal Creek Boulevard, the yellow Butterfly Bridge was constructed to help connect West Avenue and San Antonio Street. As part of the $29 million Second Street extension project, the bridge has added both aesthetic value and unparalleled convenience to those visiting the area.
Seaholm Power Plant
Commissioned in 1948, the Seaholm Power Plant reflects Art Deco influences that emerged in the 1930’s. While the interior has since been adapted and served as the foundation for a mixed-use community offering retail, office and residential spaces, the power plant itself has kept much of its original exterior design.
The Driskill Hotel
Built for a cattle baron in 1886, The Driskill Hotel boasts vintage grandiosity that has been thoughtfully restored several times while maintaining its original design. Powerful people gathered at this respected hotel for decades and it continues to attract impressed visitors to the corner of 6th and Brazos.
Standing at 683 feet tall with 56 floors of residential space, The Austonian received a four-star rating from Austin Energy Green Building in 2010 making it the only residential building at the time to receive such a rating. Towering over the streets of downtown Austin, The Austonian features floor-to-ceiling glass windows and remarkable views.
Creative architectural solutions and high-class design can be found at each of these iconic Austin buildings. Each masterpiece adds a touch of individuality and style to the streets of the city.