It has been 15 months since the Texas Facilities Commission approved the 2016 Texas Capitol Complex Master Plan, and the concepts unveiled at the time were of a stunningly ambitious, years-long project that would extend the Capitol Complex north by four blocks, incorporating along the way many mixed-use structures, a pedestrian-friendly “Texas Mall” and a massive underground parking system.
The TFC recently set deadlines in August to receive qualifications for architectural and engineering services for major additions to the Capitol Complex — and it looks like they’re finally happening, with at least two portions of the master plan now in motion.
According to a request for qualifications that went out June 9, one building is to be constructed at an estimated cost of $170,350,000. A separate RFQ was issued for a 12-story office building with an estimated cost of $89.4 million.
But don’t expect to see a finished product until 2022. The proposed TFC contract term for the larger of the two buildings “is anticipated to be one thousand six hundred twenty-five calendar days.” — that’s about 4 ½ years. “The project is Package 4 of the Capitol Complex Phase 1,” according to the proposed agreement.
The general specifics on the project describe a new state office building with five levels of underground parking, and eight levels of above-grade parking at 1801 Congress Avenue — the block at that address is currently used as surface parking.
The development, situated across Congress Avenue from the Bullock Texas State History Museum and on the fourth block distant from the Texas Capitol, would be a landmark structure anchoring the east side of the avenue to future designs for a broad landscaped promenade connecting the Capitol Complex to the University of Texas campus.
“The building is approximately 603,000 square feet, and is 14 floors above grade. The building includes a shell space for a cultural venue; fit up and finish out of this space shall be covered via a separate solicitation.”
— TFC Contract
TFC issued this request earlier this month and wants to interview a short list of finalists by Aug. 22-23. The chosen firm will be awarded the contract on Oct. 18. The second RFQ went out June 16, and is on a similar schedule — the commission wants to execute a contract by Oct. 18.
While these are primarily office buildings for state employees, the project overview says, “the ground floors of both buildings fronting the mall will incorporate public-oriented uses to activate the mall as a civic space.”
The project description is for a 12-story tower located at 1601 Congress Avenue. It will be 420,000 square feet and include five levels of underground parking, along with childcare facilities, according to the TFC.
The state employees’ child care facilities are unique in that in addition to the facility there will be an at-grade playground, and a green rooftop with a second playground:
“The outdoor play area dedicated to 2 year old children located on the west side of the 1601 Congress building will be rubber surfacing pavement and will include a sloping walk and a set of stairs and a ramp that form a circuit for children to run around. The roof play area dedicated to 3 year old and pre-K children located on the 1601 Congress building will have a central play area framed at the north by an educational garden with wood planting beds set within wood chip surfacing, and a green roof ‘sensory garden’ on the south side.”
Several other pieces of the development team are already in place. Page Southerland Page Inc. has oversight authority on the overall design of the Capitol Complex Projects “by each of the architect/engineers for the projects,” per the TFC. The commission also selected its general contractor; the Construction Manager Agent is Balfour Beatty Construction LLC, with Cobb, Fendley & Associates Inc. as the civil engineer.