Austin’s Changing Skyline

Multiple proposed skyscrapers are changing the shape of once low-slung downtown Austin, signaling the growth of the city as a technology and manufacturing hub.

1 minute read

January 19, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view at dusk of downtown Austin, Texas with river in foreground

Roschetzky Photography / Austin, Texas

In an article for Bloomberg CityLab, Kriston Capps describes the ‘supertall’ skyscraper projects that are poised to transform the “once-modest skyline” of Austin, Texas, including an 80-floor tower that would become the tallest in Texas upon completion.

As Capps explains, a ‘supertall’ is defined as any building over 300 meters tall. “The skyscrapers will stand as a string of exclamation points punctuating a decade-long-plus ‘Texas Miracle’ of economic growth.” While other Texas cities have also seen robust growth, Austin, once known as ‘Silicon Hills’ in the 1990s, is unique in that “The city’s pivot toward high-tech manufacturing — led by companies like Tesla Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. and fueled by President Joe Biden’s embrace of industrial policy as well as generous state and local incentives — has triggered an avalanche of investment.”

Capps warns that the supertall boom could be less promising than it seems. “Real estate is a lagging indicator, and skyscrapers often arrive after the boom is over, looming half-empty as monuments to a bust.” But with companies like Samsung planning to build massive semiconductor manufacturing plants in Austin, it appears that the city’s growth spurt may be more than a flash in the pan.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 in Bloomberg CityLab

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