What was the Frost Bank Tower modeled after?
The Austin skyline would not be the same without it. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s blue. The Frost Bank Tower in downtown Austin has become somewhat of a celebrity since its opening in 2004.
Since then, people have wondered what this skyscraper on Congress Avenue was modeled after. Some say the top of the building resembles an owl, with Frost Bank's symbol being the owl's eyes.
One of those heavily involved in the design of the building, Fred Roberts of HKS, told me that the owl comparison was one of the "nicer things" he has heard the building compared to. He and many Austinites have also heard the infamous nose hair clipper comparison.
So to lay the rumors to rest, I went straight to the source of the design and contacted the office of Turan Duda AIA, design partner of Duda/Paine Architects in Durham, North Carolina. He is the man credited with designing the Frost Bank Tower.
According to Duda, the 515-foot building peaks with a "pyramidal translucent crown." Anything beyond that, and you will not get an answer from Duda. He wishes the building to take on its own identity based on each interpretor's imagination. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, right?
Duda explained his vision for the building several years ago to KVUE's news partner, the Austin American-Statesman. He said he wanted to “create a tower with a focal point similar to New York’s Chrysler and Empire State buildings."
"We wanted a building that comes to a singular statement at the top, a clear, memorable symbol," he told the Statesman. "That was a missing piece in the skyline.”
That missing piece has certainly been filled. From 2004 to 2008, Austin Chronicle readers voted the Frost Bank Tower the city's Best New Building or Best Architecture every year. It reached its term limit for such an award and was not allowed to win those again. However, a 2008 edition of the Austin Chronicle said the unique skyscraper would remain "a standard-bearer for the future of Austin's skyline."
Fast-forward to 2011, and we see The Austonian and 360 Condominiums towering above the Frost Bank Tower's 33 floors. Nevertheless, its glass crown remains an irreplaceable part of the Austin skyline.
Click here to see the Frost Bank Tower compared to other skyscrapers across the U.S.
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