Once you see this, you can’t unsee it, and you will start to see it everywhere. So, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Ever taken a good look at Austin’s skyline? The first thing you’ll notice is that it seems to double in size every 18 months or so. But beyond that, there’s something strange going on.
It’s all so… brown.
Okay, so there are varying shades of brown. A bit of tan and sandstone, some taupe. Beige. Even our blue glass skyscrapers feature accents vaguely reminiscent of a manila folder.
In fact, the blue shades of the Frost Bank Building and the Austonian, along with the black obelisk that is the W Hotel & Residences, only draw attention to the utter brownness of the rest of the city’s spectrum.
Where did this begin?
Most likely here, at the Texas State Capitol.
We’re not trying to say Austin’s skyline is unattractive — it’s just that once you see the five or so colors making up 90% of the buildings around you, you start going a little crazy.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Sure, it’s a little same-y. But every city looks like this!”
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If you consider Houston and Dallas, or even Seattle our competition, all three cities have a much darker color palette overall, including darker shades of blue and gray. They’re still a little brown in places, but the entire landscape doesn’t average out to taupe. A darker skyline pops, rather than blends — the contrast between skyscraper and sky is what makes cities so awe-inspiring to us puny humans on the ground.
Below are a few of downtown Austin’s residential buildings, including the appropriately named Brown Building. Guilty as charged:
Austin’s building inventory isn’t ugly, but without a little diversity, we risk looking a bit too much like a sandcastle.
Thankfully, at least one new building downtown is breaking with this unfortunate tradition — the Hotel Van Zandt on Rainey Street chose to paint their building black!
It may seem more than a little petty, but if Austin is going to be a global city, we’ve got to think about keeping things interesting. The first step to making sure every tower doesn’t look the same is to try some different colors on for size — we suggest anything but these: