Planning CommissionAug. 9, 2022

07 C14H-2022-0073 - Westgate Tower; District 9 Part 3.pdf — original pdf

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A.4 - 1 ZONING CHANGE REVIEW SHEET HLC DATE: PC DATE: September 24, 2012 CASE NUMBER: C14H-2012-0089 APPLICANT: Westgate Condominium Association HISTORIC NAME: The Westgate Tower WATERSHED: Lady Bird Lake ADDRESS OF PROPOSED ZONING CHANGE: 1122 Colorado Street ZONING FROM: CBD to CBD-H SUMMARY STAFF RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends the proposed zoning change from Central Business District (CBD) zoning to Central Business District – Historic Landmark (CBD-H) combining district zoning. QUALIFICATIONS FOR LANDMARK DESIGNATION: The Westgate Tower is an excellent example of the New Formalism approach to modern architecture, is the only building in Austin designed by internationally-known architect Edward Durell Stone, and has served as a model for continued mixed-use growth in the city, combining residential, commercial, and social uses in the same building. HISTORIC LANDMARK COMMISSION ACTION: PLANNING COMMISSION ACTION: DEPARTMENT COMMENTS: The building is not listed in the Comprehensive Cultural Resources Survey (1984) because of its age. ACTION: PHONE: 974-6454 ORDINANCE NUMBER: CITY COUNCIL DATE: ORDINANCE READINGS: 1ST 2ND 3RD CASE MANAGER: Steve Sadowsky NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATION: Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association BASIS FOR RECOMMENDATION: Architecture: The Westgate Tower was designed by internationally-known New York architect Edward Durell Stone in 1962; the building was completed under the supervision of prominent local architects Fehr and Granger in 1966. It is an excellent example of the New Formalism in the modern movement of architecture in the 1960s, as espoused by Stone, who was known throughout the world for his high-rise buildings that combined verticality with the monumental scale, refinement, and ornamentation of Classical building styles. The Westgate, named for its location just west of the State Capitol grounds, also served Stone’s philosophy of building up-scale residential buildings in park-like settings in or near downtown areas, luring wealthy residents away from single-family houses in the suburbs. Stone was concerned that most high-rise architecture of the era was sole solution to A.4 - 2 overdevelopment where going up was the only way to develop a site that was otherwise overbuilt already. The location of the Westgate Tower provided Stone the opportunity to express the ideals of downtown living with a green setting. The Westgate was also innovative in several other ways, providing a model for future central city development – combining residential and commercial uses, and a necessary amenity in the modern era – an integral parking garage that formed a significant part of the entire composition rather than as an auxiliary, utilitarian structure. The Westgate is a 26-story point-block tower, rising squarely out of a cruciform platform. It is constructed of poured-in-place concrete with a brick veneer and rises 26 stories. The verticality of the building is emphasized by brick columns which rise symmetrically above the more horizontal and cruciform-shaped parking garage, with each spandrel containing a metal-framed full-height glass window and a balconette, allowing the residents access to fresh air from their individual units. Brick solar screens, one of Stone’s trademark architectural details, cover the spandrel openings of the parking garage as well as the top two floors of the building. The Westgate embodies the modern goals of accommodating mixed uses and modern facilities in a single building. The Westgate was designed to contain commercial space on the ground floors, a 5-story parking garage, residential units ranging from efficiencies to two-bedroom apartments, and a social club and restaurant on top of the building. It is contemporary to the Cambridge Tower at 1801 Lavaca Street and the Penthouse Apartments at 13th and Guadalupe Streets, all representing the 1960s trend toward high- rise residential living in the central part of the city. However, only the Westgate possesses the refinement of the New Formalism ideals of monumental architecture and Edward Durell Stone’s ideal of a residential tower in a park-like setting downtown. Historical Associations: Construction of the Westgate Tower was the work of Julian Zimmerman, who headed the Lumbermans’ Investment Association of Austin. Growing out of an association of Texas lumber dealers in the late 19th century, the Lumbermans’ Investment Association planned and built several high-rise residential buildings in Austin, Houston, and Kansas City in the late 1950s and mid-1960s. Julian Zimmerman, who headed the organization during that time, apparently knew the work of New York architect Edward Durell Stone from his work in Washington, including the National Geographic Society Building and the building that would later become the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 1962, Zimmerman contracted with Stone to design the Westgate Tower, envisioned to be a mixed-use residential tower, located just west of the Texas State Capitol grounds. Edward Durell Stone, the architect for the building, was a native of Arkansas who received his architectural training at Harvard and at MIT. Stone went on to practice in New York City, and taught at the School of Architecture at Yale. He became well-known for his sleek buildings of the 1930s, and after World War II, he became more dissatisfied with what he viewed as the sterility of modern architecture and well as more fascinated by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. His work in the 1950s and 1960s reflected greater verticality, such as in the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, and the General Motors Building in New York City. His trademark was a solar screen, which provided architectural interest as well as privacy and shade. Stone used the solar screen on the Josephine Graf House in Dallas in the 1950s, and continued to employ it, as seen on the Westgate Tower. Stone hired the prominent local architectural firm of Fehr and Granger to oversee the construction of the building. Fehr and Granger were locally known for their mid-century modern residential designs, and although Stone designed the exterior, Fehr and Granger were responsible for the details. A.4 - 3 The Westgate was prominent in Austin history as the first high-rise building that was significantly taller than anything else in Austin, except the Capitol Dome. High-rise buildings in Austin of the 1940s and 1950s were no taller than the buildings of the 1910s and 1920s, including the Scarbrough and Littlefield Buildings and the Norwood Tower. The Westgate, at 26 stories, would be significantly taller than either of its contemporaries, the Cambridge Tower and the Penthouse Apartments, both residential buildings completed in the 1960s. The height of the Westgate caused some controversy in Austin, stemming from concerns that high-rise buildings would overshadow the State Capitol, and resulted in the creation of the Capitol View Corridors by the State of Texas. The Westgate was also the second home of the Headliners Club, the most prestigious and prominent social club in the city. Founded in 1954 by Charles Green, publisher of the American-Statesman, Everett Looney, a prominent local attorney and judge, and Paul Bolton, a local television and radio commentator and news editor, the Headliners Club began at the Driskill Hotel, and included the most prominent politicians and intellects in the state, including several former Texas governors, and President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Club moved into the Westgate in 1966 and remained there until moving to a more central location downtown. In addition to housing the Headliners Club for many years, the Westgate Tower has also, because of its location and prestige, been the home of many of the city’s and state’s most prominent leaders in state government, who either live here full-time, or as the State Legislature is in session. PARCEL NO.: 02080119060000 LEGAL DESCRIPTION: Amended Plat, Westgate Condominium ESTIMATED ANNUAL TAX ABATEMENT: Will be determined per owner depending on the proportion of the total area and ownership of common areas ascribed to each condominium apartment. APPRAISED VALUE: Each condominium in the building is individually appraised and valued by the Travis Central Appraisal District. PRESENT USE: Mixed use. CONDITION: Excellent PRESENT OWNERS: Westgate Condominium Association DATE BUILT: ca. 1962-66 ALTERATIONS/ADDITIONS: Over the years, failing materials have been replaced in- kind. In 1984, the original wood entry doors were replaced with new metal and glass doors, and in 1998, fine black netting was installed over the brick solar screens to discourage bird infiltration and nesting. However, at several junctures in the history of the building, there have been attempts to modify the building and change its architectural character and details. These attempts have not seen fruition due to active reactions by many residents, but the future of the building rests with the protections offered by historical designations. ORIGINAL OWNER(S): Lumbermans’ Investment Corporation of Austin (1962) OTHER HISTORICAL DESIGNATIONS: Individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places LOCATION MAP A.4 - 4 A.4 - 5 A.4 - 6 A.4 - 7 A.4 - 8 A.4 - 9 A.4 - 10 A.4 - 11 A.4 - 12 A.4 - 13 A.4 - 14 A.4 - 15 A.4 - 16 A.4 - 17 A.4 - 18 A.4 - 19 A.4 - 20 A.4 - 21 A.4 - 22 A.4 - 23 A.4 - 24 A.4 - 25 A.4 - 26 A.4 - 27 A.4 - 28 A.4 - 29 A.4 - 30 A.4 - 31 A.4 - 32 A.4 - 33 A.4 - 34 A.4 - 35 A.4 - 36 A.4 - 37