The Evolution of the Austin Skyline

Photograph via Flickr by Ed Schipul

I love to run around Town Lake, for the bucolic atmosphere of the trees and water, the views of the hills off to the side, for the quaint bridges that people sometimes illegally jump from into the lake, the dirt trails that are easy on my body, and to watch the easygoing lifestyle of Austinites as they pass me by on paddleboards or in row boats. But I’ve also come to realize that my favorite part of all this is before and after my run, when I stretch and look at the Austin skyline. I always marvel at all of the cranes lifting up walls and pillars, working to build Austin up and out. I watch all of this fully knowing, like we all do, that this is a city of the future. That Austin has only just begun.

As noted in Urbanscale and The Statesmen, the evolution of the Austin skyline is drastic and obvious. One simply cannot look at the city and not remark on its rapid expansion and development. The newest addition that will enrich Austin’s skyline is The Independent, a 685-foot, 58-story condominium tower, which will overtake the Austinian — completed in 2010 — as Austin’s tallest building. There is also the Bowie completed this year, and exciting new projects such as 416 Congress and the Kimber Modern Hotel. It’s a thrilling time for Austinites to view first-hand a city on the rise.

I’ve lived in Paris, New York, and Austin, and in all three cities I’ve sat back and observed the city from a focal point. In Paris, it was in Montmartre where I could see the scale and movement, the smallness of Paris being interrupted by structures such as the Tour Montparnasse, the Eiffel Tower, and La Défense. In New York, I’ve felt my smallness on Brooklyn rooftops as I awed at the sheer massiveness of Manhattan, and from Town Lake in Austin, I witnessed the action of the blatant morphology of a new and exciting city, changing right before my very eyes.

How important is a city’s skyline to its quality of life? For me, I love to sit back and watch a city in the present, but also to wonder about its future. I wonder what Austin’s skyline will look like in 2025? How about 2050?