Maybe you’ve heard that the 48-story downtown Austin apartment tower now under construction at 80 Rainey Street is going by the name Paseo. What you didn’t hear, since we weren’t sure how to talk about it without sounding insanely full of ourselves, is that we came up with that name. No, really! Here’s the word straight from the tower’s developers at LV Collective:
The name Paseo was inspired by local real estate writer James Rambin who thought the meaning of the word captured the essential character of the Rainey Street District. “When I learned about the project, the word Paseo immediately came to mind” said Rambin. “In Spanish, a Paseo is a public boulevard or promenade. The name perfectly fits this building since its design enhances the Rainey Street District’s walkable environment and electric atmosphere.”
— LV Collective
That’s all true, but human beings obviously don’t talk in such delightfully concise press release copy. Best we can figure it, LV Collective CEO David Kanne saw our endless discussion of tower names on this very site, and decided maybe someone so willing to publicly blast their goofball opinions about Austin buildings all over the internet every week would have some thoughts on the 80 Rainey tower. Did we ever!
What I told David, and what I’m telling you now, is that the Rainey Street District could use a tower with a name that establishes its own sense of place. Paseo is a Spanish word for a leisurely stroll, but it’s also widely used in architecture to denote a public outdoor pedestrian promenade, which is a feature this tower’s design includes very visibly on its ground level facing Rainey Street — with something like nine retail spaces, it might be the most pedestrian-friendly building planned in the district so far. The tower’s architects Pappageorge Haymes Partners and the local landscape design geniuses at TBG Partners really cooked here, is what I’m trying to say.
Naming the entire tower after what I consider to be its most prominent public-facing feature means the human-scaled sensibility of the paseo as an architectural element now applies to the design philosophy of the entire building — “a leisurely walk or stroll, especially one taken in the evening in which people may socialize with each other.” With a name like that, you can’t even talk about the building and its approximately 557 new apartments without also mentioning what it’s doing for the social environment at street level, and it’s especially appropriate for a tower plan taking more pains than usual to preserve the original historic bungalows on its site. What I didn’t expect when I dashed off an email containing the ideas above is that the developers would actually take them seriously, but here we are. Paseo. Not bad, huh?