Block 71, a 1.75-acre downtown site owned by the University of Texas and bordered by West Seventh, Colorado, West Sixth and Lavaca Streets, was home to one of the university’s administrative offices until the completion of the school’s new office building at 210 West Seventh Street.
Since 2015, UT sought plans from developers for an office tower on the Block 71 site, settling on Trammell Crow Company last year.
Complicating matters for this development is the historic Claudia Taylor Johnson Hall, originally built as a post office in 1914 and later named for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife. When UT selected Trammell Crow to redevelop the block, it was with the understanding that whatever the developer designed, it would preserve the southern and western-facing facades of the historic building — which is neat!
From city filings, we already knew that the project would contain two towers, one with apartments and the other offices, with the office tower slightly taller based on available square footages. In previous filings, the apartment unit count was listed as 236, and the square footage of the office tower was 660,000.
But until now, we had no clue what Trammell Crow and architect Page Southerland Page’s version of the tower would look like, or its exact floor count, for that matter. Enter these plans, filed recently with the city:
It’s not reinventing the wheel, but this 36-story tower is certainly interesting in its own right. The building’s got a little more flair than a lot of the workmanlike right-angles-only-please towers we’ve seen around town — kind of gives me I.M. Pei vibes, with the use of two opposing angles to play off each other for a more visually engaging geometry. But what do I know?
Also, don’t let the numbers on these elevations fool you, they’re starting the height count from a 100-foot grade — the data table for the building’s site plan lists its actual height from ground to top at 512 feet, and man, that’s Texas as hell. Another thing that’s extremely Texas is parking, so this tower will have 1502 total parking spaces spread across seventeen floors, five of which are underground.
The site plan also shows the tower having 3,500 square feet of restaurant space and 4,300 square feet of retail. The jury’s still out on what the residential tower on the same block will look like, but I figure we’ll learn those details soon enough. The site plan states that construction will begin in Summer 2018.
One last thing, guys — can we please make it a different color than blue? We’ve really got a lot of blue buildings already, and why would you ever want to make another building blue when you can make it literally any other color except brown? Might I suggest green? Or if you’re really trying to lean into the Texas swagger implied by a 512-foot building, why not a little gold? Thanks for listening!