By all accounts, work is set to kick off any day now at the 31-floor mixed-use tower project known as (and located at) Symphony Square — within the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen demolition permits filed for the existing office buildings at the 1.7-acre site, along with permits for the raising of the project’s 430-foot tower crane.
If you’ve followed our magnificent previous coverage of the project, you’ll know it’s poised to take over everything on Symphony Square’s block between East 11th, East 12th, Red River, and Sabine Streets that isn’t actually Symphony Square, carving away the non-historic former offices of the Austin Symphony Orchestra at 1117 Red River Street along with the sprawling drive-thru bank on the north half of the block:
But what we haven’t seen for the upcoming development by national multifamily developer Greystar, which will reportedly contain apartments, offices, retail, and some sort of “co-living” space — though it’s hard to wonder if the whole pandemic thing altered plans for that last part — is an actual rendering of how it’s going to look.
Sure, we’ve seen some architectural drawings of the structure thanks to its permitting process at the city, but it’s extremely rare for a tower of this size at this stage of pre-development to have no official imagery floating around by now. Plus, by now we’re well aware that flat drawings don’t really get the point across:
That’s partially because views of many new towers around here first emerge during their application for admission to the city’s Density Bonus Program, which requires renderings as part of the design review process. Symphony Square didn’t have to go through that, as the site received CBD rezoning from the Planning Commission back in 2019 and the developers didn’t need additional entitlements to raise this tower — great for them, bad for us. Apartment projects don’t require the same long marketing push as a condo building, meaning it might be a while before Greystar and its architects at R2L feel the need to give us a closer look.
But as confirmed obsessives, we did manage to dig up one rendering of the project — it’s kind of a letdown, but we’d be negligent not to share it with you just the same. In the portfolio of electrical contracting firm Power Design, there’s an entry for Symphony Square, with a tiny, infuriatingly-cropped thumbnail image of the tower:
The small (like, really small) amount of design seen here appears to line up with the drawings we’ve seen for the project in the past, and from this perspective we’re looking at the building’s western face — it just doesn’t really show us anything new.
We genuinely can’t think of the last time a tower of this scale was this close to starting construction downtown with essentially no official images of its design — it might be the first time in the history of this site, or at least the first in years. It seems the mystery of Symphony Square will continue until its developers decide to throw us a bone, which we really hope will happen around the same time as the start of demolition we’re expecting in the next few weeks. Are you people reading this?