Earlier this month, we made the case for 405 Colorado, Austin’s latest architectural oddball office tower now under construction downtown from developers Brandywine Realty Trust. Having heard lots of opinions from readers over the last couple of years since the reveal of the building’s design in 2016 by the architects at Duda Paine, we thought it was time to open the floodgates and give everyone a chance to sound off.
Since we had previously heard a lot of local criticism of the building’s “Molar” design and parking-centric focus, we were surprised to find that only 20 percent of respondents to our survey had a negative opinion of the project — with about another 10 percent remaining neutral, and the rest completely positive. Since we made the survey anonymous, we can’t rule out the possibility of a bunch of Brandywine and Duda Paine employees filling it out, but the more likely explanation is that we think the building has managed to win people over since its announcement, even some who didn’t like it at first. That’s pretty much what happened with us, after all!
“I’m a fan. I love the deconstruction of the elements. A setting and a jewel. A base and a sculpture. Warm vs cool. It is a welcome relief to simple boxes. Not gonna lie…. I also love seeing how something “different” pushes so many peoples buttons!”
“I like it. Most of the new towers downtown have similar breakdowns with parking to office, I think at 3rd + Shoal they have 10-12 floors of parking but it’s all blended in as one with the glass they chose to install. I think adding some texture and shape to downtown is a good thing and provides a break from the norm. It will be interesting to see how it looks when it’s finished though, as renderings tend to amplify the finished product’s look. All in all it’s a great development and will bring character to downtown.”
“I think the building grows on you. At first it’s so different from everything else around it, but then you keep looking and realize that is what makes it the most interesting. The architects did take the limitations given and worked hard to produce an elegant end result that provokes thought!”
“I appreciate that it is a visually unique building with its use of angled glass. I do wish it had a taller office portion though. A new tower less than 30 floors is unsatisfactory for our burgeoning city. I am also excited to see its glass compliment the Frost Bank tower.”
“Love it! It’s a great breakup to the monotony of glass shells. People will end up loving it once the final product is complete.”
“I’m sticking with calling it “The Ring Pop.”
One of our favorite responses came with a photo — it seems this “Molar” nickname for the tower is more popular than we realized. Here’s what they said: “It’s an odd-looking building, but it will be blocked by taller towers so it won’t be a prominent part of our skyline. However the street view, looking up, should be interesting and I’m all for buildings with prominent lighting. I am friends with the local Brandywine team (I’ve worked with several of them in the past), and back in June 2019 when folks first started calling it the Molar, I mocked up their rendering as a playful joke, which they found funny at the time. This was done just for fun.” And fun it is:
“I like it. Austin needs all the individualistic aesthetic design in architecture it can get. And not hiding the garage? Brilliant. I like the Molar.”
“Not a fan. It looks like one architect design the bottom half and another designed the upper half. I don’t think the terracotta-like part will age well.”
“The reasoning in this article has won me over as far as the aesthetic / architectural design of 405 Colorado – the description of the tower as a sculpture on a pedestal is very fitting and one that I agree with! Additionally, the materials shown in the mock-ups (specifically the ‘terracotta’ metal panels) will be a unique and welcome addition to the Austin skyline. I’m also a big fan of LED tube lighting on buildings (Third + Shoal is a recent skyline addition that pulled it off well), and I’m glad that it’s being incorporated on 405 Colorado. HOWEVER… It is difficult for me to separate the form of the tower from its function. No matter how aesthetically pleasing the parking garage is, it’s still a parking garage, and we desperately need to be moving away from building these types of buildings in a dense, downtown environment.”
“It’s different, which is a virtue in a landscape of glass extrusions. I’ll take that. And parking is a sad reality that architects are forced to deal with, though I doubt many actually like dealing with it.”
“Liking it more now than at first glance a few years ago. Street level will look like any other restaurant / retail / lobby while the office component of the building is what most of us will see from a distance, anyway. Liking the ‘V’ lights, too!”