With a number of towers currently in various stages of realization throughout downtown Austin, many of which push our local limits for height or architectural flair to a new normal, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook a 44-story building hitting its full height in the center of the city — that’s the case at the Hanover Republic Square apartments, which quietly topped out this summer at the corner of West Fifth and Lavaca Streets thanks to the efforts of Houston developers the Hanover Company.
Hanover’s tower at 305 West Fifth Street, named for its site overlooking downtown’s Republic Square park, is neither the flashiest nor the largest downtown project going up at the moment. Despite having almost exactly the same size and scale, its twin under construction across downtown by the same developers at Hanover Brazos Street will likely garner much more attention due to its eye-catching use of materials both at its crown and near the ground floor.
That doesn’t mean the Republic Square tower is bad looking, with its reported 310 apartment units and ground-level retail space to occupy a crisply white-trimmed glass package by Chicago-based architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz — it’s just remarkable that we have enough projects of this scale in the pipeline downtown in 2021 that we’re able to comfortably compare them against each other and determine that this tower’s design is fairly conservative.
Perhaps the most notable achievement of Hanover Republic Square is that its scale is a perfect symbol of the city’s growth over time — at 516 feet, it’s approximately the same height as the Frost Bank Tower, which set the record in downtown when it opened to no small amount of controversy over its size or looks nearly 17 years ago.
With the Frost tower barely visible in the 2021 skyline from many angles, and another project of equal height no longer considered front-page news or even very much news at all, it’s a nice reminder of how fortunate we are as advocates for both downtown living and a dense central Austin to see this much vertical growth over the last two decades — and with Hanover Republic Square’s opening date currently scheduled for sometime next summer, this latest tower already fits right in.
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