How do you name a building? More importantly, how do you name a building good? Here in Austin, we’ve seen some common trends — sometimes buildings receive names from the intersection where they’re located, and generally when developers go down this path, the word “and” connecting the two street names gets replaced with something a little classier, like an ampersand or something: Fifth & West, Third + Shoal, 6 X Guadalupe. That’s good branding!
Downtown developments are also occasionally referred to using their block numbers, as laid out in the original 1839 Austin plan by Edwin Waller — the Block 71 office tower under construction even as we speak might get a different name by the time it’s finished, but I hope they’re brave enough to stick with it, since it’s a good one!
Upcoming projects at Block 185 and Block 36, on the other hand, will probably get different names. If you’re lucky enough to develop atop a site that had an interesting former life as something else, you might even get a built-in name for your project! To simplify things even further, if the address for the building itself is memorable enough, that’s all you need — 70 Rainey sounds nice, doesn’t it?
That being said, I wasn’t really expecting the 30-story apartment and office tower planned at 91-93 Red River Street on the north end of the Rainey Street District by Endeavor Real Estate Group to keep either its bare address or the placeholder “Red River Tower” name found in its city permit filings — neither was snappy. Here is, according to the developer’s website, a name that is snappy:
The Quincy! The Quincy? The Quincy. Now that you’ve achieved semantic satiation, let’s discuss. My immediate reaction? “Kickass, they named a building after legendary producer Quincy Jones, the guy responsible for the funniest interview of all time among other important musical things!”
This is, of course, completely untrue. Nothing so golden, pure, and strange could stay for long, so here’s a bullet straight from my inbox to all our Quincy-loving hearts via Jonathan Tate, a principal at Endeavor marketing the building:
I wish it was named for Quincy Jones! But no, that was not the inspiration.
— Jonathan Tate, Endeavor Real Estate Group
After a period of sad reflection, I suppose it wouldn’t make much sense, even with the Hotel Van Zandt across the street from this site — I don’t think ol’ Townes ever worked with Quincy. Tate told me Endeavor would have more information on the project, possibly including the origin of the name, in an upcoming press release, but until then, we don’t have much to work with. There are apartment communities with this same name in Denver and New Brunswick, but neither seems to be associated with Endeavor, or even with each other — they’ve each got different logos, for one thing.
My historical research into the addresses soon to be occupied by this tower, which previously contained some houses and a very “Weird Austin” used car dealership, doesn’t indicate any past association with someone named Quincy. Unless it’s referencing, say, San Antonio real estate developer Quincy Lee, Austin hedge fund manager Quincy J. Lee, the South Texas ghost town of Quincy, Austin Area Urban League CEO Quincy Dunlap, the middle name of Texas railroad magnate Robert Quincy Lee, or South Austin’s Quincy Cove, we must confess our ignorance regarding the source of this name for the time being.
The explanation might be very simple: Quincy is a fancy-sounding name, and gives the building a touch of class à la the Ashton. This is also the most boring possible explanation, so I hope Endeavor soon provides us with more information — maybe they’ve found something Quincy-related at this location I missed.