Listen, we’re not trying to cause any trouble here.
But we also have eyes, so it’s hard not to notice the subtext of today’s Austin Business Journal first look at the design of the downtown office tower now known as The Republic, headed to 308 Guadalupe Street — namely, that the building looks extremely similar to Block 71, the office tower planned only a few blocks over to the northeast.
We’re only working with a single illustration of the new building for the time being, but you can still see the similarities:
You’ve gotta admit, there’s more than a little resemblance. In fact, looking at these two buildings side-by-side might lead you believe that Duda/Paine, the North Carolina-based architecture firm behind The Republic’s design, cribbed a few cues from the Block 71 building designed by the architects at Page.
But it gets weirder. Duda/Paine is a prominent firm — they designed the Frost Bank Tower, for one thing. But they’ve also got plenty of other skyscrapers in their portfolio, including Victory Park Center, a Dallas office tower in the planning stages that was recently pitched to Amazon as part of a potential site for the company’s second headquarters.
Comparing renderings of Victory Park Center’s tower to Block 71 shows a stunning similarity between the two buildings — seriously, just look at them:
The resemblance doesn’t stop at the overall shape of the towers, either — certain ground-level details look remarkably similar between the two. If you didn’t know the two images below were from different projects, you might almost think they’re just different angles of the same building:
As far as I know, these two firms aren’t collaborating on either of these towers, and since neither actually exists yet, it’s a little unclear which design came first.
I’m thinking I may have to give this one to Duda/Paine — if you look back in their portfolio, you’ll see that many other towers the firm’s designed in the past also share similarities with the look of Victory Park Center and Block 71, a style I’ve decided just now to dub “Contemporary Divergent Mass.” Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?
You can see some cues of this same geometric style showing up in previous Duda/Paine buildings — they’ve all got some shared DNA, even if the shapes are very different. The tower on the far left in the collage below is really a dead ringer for this particular look:
But wait, there’s more! Last month, we saw a rendering from real estate firm Brandywine Realty Trust of a potential redevelopment at the IBM Broadmoor campus in North Austin — and although the company has declined to reveal the architect behind this rendering for now, that tower on the right looks awfully familiar:
Am I losing my mind, or does that look like another Duda/Paine tower? At this point, we have no way of knowing — as you might imagine, none of the companies involved here felt like talking — but there’s certainly a good chance, since Brandywine’s actually already working with Duda/Paine locally on the design of the office tower planned at 405 Colorado Street.
Either way, three makes a trend, so if that Broadmoor tower goes up we can definitively declare that Austin has entered the Age of Contemporary Divergent Mass. Isn’t that name fun to hate?
To be clear, I’m not alleging any foul play. Great artists and designers inspire one another all the time, and the notion of what constitutes architectural plagiarism is fuzzy at best — it’s just something worth noting, especially now that another Duda/Paine tower that looks very similar to both Block 71 and Victory Park Center is showing up at 308 Guadalupe. Talk about the snake eating its own tail, am I right?