Architectural Wonders
CATEGORY: Design + Style
The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria Map It
Austin Photo: Places_Arts_Austin_Museum_of_Art_Laguna_Gloria_Exterior

When Clara Driscoll and her husband bought the area of lush parkland along Lake Austin in 1914, they were reminded of where they honeymooned along Lake Como in Italy. Two years later, they built a Mediterranean-style villa designed by San Antonio architect Harvey L. Page that featured neoclassical fountains and statues along with a terraced garden that Driscoll would plant with local Central Texas flora. With such a scenic view amongst the abundant foliage, it's easy to see why it's a popular romantic locale for weddings.

The Contemporary Austin — Jones Center Map It
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_arthouse amoa_Sue Graze_August 2011_arthouse

The downtown heart of Austin's contemporary art scene underwent major renovations provided by New York-based architects Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis to transform the historic location into a structure that reflects the Arthouse's layered history. The new glassed-lined lobby opens up to the public and passersby who are lead in by the sculpted plaster awning. Up the spacious wooden staircase, visitors can see how the galleries are designed to intertwine original design elements like the wooden ceiling along with the contemporary additions. The exterior is also embedded with 177 LED-lit glass blocks that give the building a magnificent glowing effect.

French Legation Museum Map It
Austin Photo: Places_Arts_French_Legation_Museum_Exterior

For visitors who may lack encyclopedic knowledge of Texas history, the French Legation may just appear to be your typical Southern plantation home. However, the oldest home in Austin has a history that dates back to the birth of the Republic of Texas. Serving as the home and headquarters of the French diplomat to the Republic, Alphonse Dubois de Saligny, this hardly humble abode would be the first impressive structure to be built in the newly christened capital of Texas. Now under the stewardship of The Daughters of The Republic of Texas, the French Legation gives a glimpse into the early years of the newly independent Texas.

O. Henry Museum Map It
Austin Photo: Places_Arts_O_Henry_Museum_Exterior

Serving as the home of William Sidney Porter, who operated under the nom de plume of O. Henry, this residence turned museum not only carries a weight of literary history, but also is an exhibit of the Queen Anne-style of homes that is less common here in Texas. The house follows more of the Eastlake style of Queen Anne homes, employing a more modest and unassertive styling in its exterior compared to high Victorian styles. The interior styles mix with those on the outside, including original furniture, paneling and door frames.

The Austonian Map It
News_Ralph Bivins_condos_The Austonian_Thomas McConnell

Shooting 683 feet into the Austin skyline, the towering Austonian helps to signify the city's continuing transformation into a major metropolitan zone. But this skyscraper shouldn't be confused with any of its blocky, angular counterparts in other Texas cities. Its elliptical shape allows for sweeping views of the cityscape and the surrounding Hill Country. Perhaps the best way the Austonian represents the future of architecture is its four-star Green Building rating from Austin Energy, the first for any Austin condominium.

The Driskill Hotel Map It
Austin_photo: places_hotel_the_driskill_exterior

The brainchild of a cattle baron from Missouri, the Driskill Hotel was meant to bring more opulence to the still young capital of Texas. That opulence is apparent in the building's interior and its exterior facade. Col. Jesse Driskill would spend $400,000 of his fortune to create this Romanesque revival structure that features three archway entrances on its north, south and east side with limestone columns. The elegance only increases on the inside with its central rotunda with marble floors, more columns and a domed skylight. As one of the most enduring symbols of culture on Sixth Street, any pedestrian is welcome to stop in and enjoy the interior view.

Pennybacker Bridge Map It
Austin photo: Places_Weird_360 Bridge

Passing commuters may hardly notice the simple grace of the Pennybacker/360 Bridge on their way to work. The arched weathering steel bridge's design serves two purposes: the rolling arches with their rust exterior are meant to blend in with the surrounding countryside and no part of the structure touches the water, allowing for free movement under the bridge on the recreational Lake Austin. The simple, unobtrusive grace of the bridge allows for commuters to fully take in the beautiful surrounding scenery.

University of Texas Tower Map It
Austin_photo: places_unique_ut tower_main

The University of Texas campus features a wide array of buildings and structures that exhibit diverse artistic styles, but the Main Building is still the central focus of UT's architecture. Designed by French-American architect Paul Philippe Cret, the New Main Building would replace the Victorian-Gothic Old Main Building with a breathtaking tower that combined several architectural aesthetics. The New Main would adopt the Spanish-Colonial Revival style popular in the central campus area, along with Cret's classical touches, which included details, inscriptions and sculptures. All of this would be added with modernist innovations to provide the university with its new, soaring emblem.