At 80 stories tall, Austin’s proposed Wilson Tower was on track to be the tallest residential tower in the U.S. outside New York City, officially a supertall. This week, due to feedback from the City of Austin Design Commission and in response to the state of the real estate market, the tower’s gargantuan size has been pared down to 45 stories.
Plans for the tower were first unveiled in November, with HKS named as the architect and Wilson Capital the developer. The proposed building takes advantage of a city rule allowing denser development in downtown locations if public amenities are made available at street level. In its initial form, the tower would have housed 450 units ranging from studios to four bedroom apartments. It also proposes a long list of amenities including a movie theater, gym, and special floor for furry friends with a playroom, grooming facilities, and a dog run.
The proposed tower came under the scrutiny of the design commission in January, when the design was sent back to the drawing board due to concerns about accessibility and the street-friendliness of the public plaza that abuts the tower. Suggestions from commissioners included scaling back the public-facing lobby of the tower, with one saying: “I don’t know how to suggest to fix it other than…it looks like…I’m not invited to it. So I can’t support the project for that reason.” The commission deemed the building not compliant with the city’s Urban Design Guidelines and encouraged the design team and developers to revise their proposal.
In response to the recommendations of the commission, the developer and architects envisioned a more engaging and inviting streetscape in front of the building. As for the decrease in height, according to Wilson Capital, that was done “ in response to current market conditions.”
“Construction costs and interest rates are both higher now than they were when we originally designed the project. We believe this new design is more appropriate to provide an activated ground floor while remaining feasible in today’s environment,” Wilson Capital added in a statement.
New renderings of the tower show the glass building, a rectangular structure with rounded edges and a brise soleil running down its sides, at a height and scale much more in line with neighboring buildings. At the street level additional seating options, including benches, additional plantings, and bike parking has been added to the public plaza. The tower’s ground floor glazing is meant to invite interaction with the streetscape.
Wilson Tower is slated to break ground later this year.