Downtown Austin’s most overlooked outdoor space is located on Fourth Street, at the halfway point of the block between Congress Avenue and Brazos Street — it’s sort of like a backyard to the 301 Congress office tower, containing a couple of trees and a bit too much pavement tucked away next to the building’s parking garage and sitting right across the street from the Frost Bank Tower.
We’ve always been fond of this weird little nook, essentially a spruced-up loading dock, but it’s the kind of place you genuinely won’t notice until you’re walking past — that’s why we’re excited to learn that the folks at the Downtown Austin Alliance have recently partnered with the 301 Congress tower’s owner HPI to spruce up this space as a more inviting public amenity. They’re calling it the 301 Congress Porch, and the centerpiece of the project is a five-story, 60-foot wildflower mural currently being installed by Austin artist DAAS.
Set to be completed in mid-September, the mural is part of the DAA’s Writing on the Walls program, and while it’s currently the most visible new feature of the Porch space, there’s apparently more in store for this overlooked corner of downtown:
In 2020, in conjunction with funding partner HPI, the idea to turn 301 Congress’ outdoor area into an inviting and welcoming space for downtown was born. After an extensive community outreach effort led by our team, Austinites identified the six things they envisioned for the 301 Porch: to see a space that is safe, fit for all-weather, flexible, active, attractive, and livable.
The Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation continues to work toward these community-set goals through physical transformations, like murals and furniture, and by planning programs and events to energize the space.
This is the sort of space that’s perfect for sprucing up — like pocket patios on Congress Avenue, there’s enough daily foot traffic here to sustain an interesting social environment depending on how the DAA decides to move forward. They mention outdoor furniture, which is a good start, but we can also imagine this area hosting events, food trucks, and so on. It’s a great opportunity for some low-stakes creativity, and we’re incredibly happy that someone caught the potential of this little spot. The DAA plans to host a ribbon cutting for the completed mural in October, but until then, maybe pay the porch a visit — if you’ve never noticed it before, now you have.