As fans of buildings everywhere, it stands to reason that we also enjoy the more sinister-looking buildings discussed on the famous r/EvilBuildings subreddit, which catalogues structures that happen to look particularly like the hangout of a supervillain, crooked sci-fi megacorporation, or otherwise, well, evil.
Brutalism, red lighting, and other severe architectural flourishes generally score the most upvotes, but you’ll find a lot of skylines just look inherently sinister at night, especially shrouded in fog or perhaps with some lightning crashing in the background, even though we think that’s kind of cheating — the real stars of the show are the buildings that look pretty haunting even in broad daylight.
With that in mind, we’re curious to see which Austin buildings our readers think are the most evil-looking, though we have some ideas of our own. You’ll find a survey at the bottom of this paragraph, where we’d like all of our aspiring villain readers to name their personal preference for the most evil building in Austin. Don’t get clever on us and say “the Governor’s Mansion” — the building actually has to look evil.
If you’re having trouble coming up with an evil building, here’s a few deep thoughts of our own to get you started:
Frost Bank Tower
The Frost Bank Tower actually shows up a lot on the subreddit, with a frustrating number of people repeating the urban legend that the building’s resemblance to an owl from some angles thanks to its eye-like glowing Frost Bank logos near the crown was an intentional gag, a sly effort by some alleged Rice University graduate that designed the building to force an effigy of their school’s wise mascot on an unsuspecting city. This is entirely untrue, even though we’ve heard it repeated by countless downtown tour guides bent on printing the legend — for one, Turan Duda went to Yale. Anyway, we don’t think the Frost tower looks all that evil. Light the crown red and we’ll talk.
Bank of America Center
Oh yeah, now we’re talking. We love downtown’s giant black monolith, as one of our fair city’s best examples of the so-called International Style of modernist architecture, but you must admit it’s got that evil je ne sais quoi. We’d personally like a lot more buildings downtown to go in such a bold direction in terms of color and form, but a lot of people would probably put this tower near the top of their evil lists.
The AT&T Murder Emporium at 10th and Colorado
Okay, so it’s actually called a “switching station,” a piece of telecommunications exchange infrastructure you’ll find in cities all over the country, processing the data of millions of network users and thus built with security in mind — potentially even meant to withstand earthquakes and nuclear blasts. The brutalism of Austin’s own station along with larger examples such as New York’s famed AT&T Long Lines Building already puts it on the evil list, but the added possibility that this local building is part of the partnership between AT&T and the NSA enabling mass domestic surveillance might bump it up a little more.
J.J. Pickle Federal Building
You’ll notice there’s a lot of concrete in this list, but the Pickle building really takes the cake in downtown Austin, with a grid-like exterior and massive paved plaza where it’s nearly impossible to find shade most of the day.
It’s a great specimen of midcentury-era federal architecture, but it’s undeniably evil-looking — this part of Austin has more than a few examples of this style, so it’s kind of like a little evil neighborhood.