The city of Austin, Texas, is a unique and thriving capital. Thanks to a burgeoning crop of stylish and redesigned hotels, a stay at Austin is a cakewalk. Venture outside for the greatest of iconic attractions, from the boutiques of South Congress Avenue to nightlife on Rainey Street, and afterward, deep in the wild-flowered expanse of Hill Country: swimming in the famed, revitalizing Barton Springs, tooling around Lady Bird Lake.

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Austin was not always the sprawling city that it is today. Long before the first cornerstone was laid, this lovely bend in the Colorado River attracted a large number of residents and visitors. The Spanish established temporary missions in the area in the late 1700s. The first permanent Anglo residents arrived in the 1830s and named their settlement Waterloo.

The little town of Waterloo was chosen as the fledgling Republic of Texas’ capital in 1839. In the middle of nowhere, a new city was swiftly erected and named after Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas.” Judge Edwin Waller, who went on to become the city’s first mayor, assessed the land and drew up a street layout that has mostly persisted to this day.

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Austin’s demographic narrative continues to focus on three primary topics:

1) Job and population growth that is both quick and consistent,

2) Diversification of the population in a transformative way,

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3) And persistent structural and spatial socioeconomic disparities.

Keep Austin Weird

What is it about Austin, Texas, that attracts people? Austin has just been selected as the best place to live in America for the third year in a row by Forbes Magazine, based on affordability, career opportunities, and quality of life. It was dubbed the United States’ fastest-growing big city. It was regarded as the fourth-best large city for starting a business. It was named one of the top 15 cities to visit in the United States. In a study of the greatest states for female entrepreneurs, its home state of Texas came out on top.

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Austin City Scape_© skyscrapercenter.com

Keep Austin Weird is the city’s unofficial motto. It’s a rallying cry for Austinites to support small companies and everything independent and to reject big corporations and anyone who tries to package their scruffy “slacker-factor” authenticity. A city with such a joyful and quirky motto is nothing short of a city full of joy, excitement, and unexpected adventures.

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Traditionalists are common among Texans, and while Austinites may appear to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, they can be just as traditional as somebody from Waco. Austin’s love of kitsch, camp and retro is little more than a technique of maintaining the past behind a veneer of novelty.

Typology of Buildings In Austin

Austin is a distinctive city with a rich history and a distinct style, which is reflected in the architecture. The diverse history, cultures, and eras have all affected the distinct styles. When driving about Austin, you may see almost every architectural style that has been associated with modern dwellings in the last couple of centuries. Austin’s rich architectural style adds culture and design diversity to one of the country’s largest cities.

The six major architectural styles that may be found in the city of Austin are:

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1. Bungalow

Bungalow-style homes are perhaps one of the most popular architectural styles. At the turn of the century, this kind of house was extremely popular. The majority of the bungalows are one-story and have a front porch with steps. Bungalows are modest residences with large living areas and two to three bedrooms in general, and hence one of the most popular options of residence in Austin.

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Bungalow style_©habitathunters.com

2. Queen Anne

From the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, Queen Anne Victorian architecture was extremely popular in America, and the American Queen Anne style is a fantastic example of home designs from this period. Asymmetrical facades, conspicuous gables, covered porches, towers in a variety of designs, a blend of diverse wall textures and treatments, and big bay windows are all common features of Queen Anne homes.

The Queen Anne Cottage is smaller and less elaborate than bigger Queen Anne residences, yet it still has many of the same features.

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Queen Anne_©habitathunters.com

3. Spanish and Mediterranean Styles

While Hill Country architecture owes its origins to nineteenth-century German immigration, Spanish-style building has been associated with the region since before Texas existed.

If you’ve ever visited Austin, you’ll recognize the style’s hallmarks: stone and stucco accents, broad arches and verandahs, barrel tile roofs, courtyards, and good indoor-outdoor movement. All of these characteristics have been preserved in more recent Revival interpretations of Spanish and Mediterranean architecture.

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Spanish and Mediterranean Style_©habitathunters.com

4. Contemporary

The Austin real estate boom has resulted in an avalanche of new and fascinating homes in trendy designs. The best contemporary homes are careful and clever marriages of old and new design and building processes, designed for both elegant beauty and usefulness.

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A devotion to constructions that sit seamlessly within the surrounding natural and artificial settings is another trademark of contemporary architecture. Many of them also use cutting-edge green building techniques and technologies. 

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Contemporary_©habitathunters.com

5. Craftsman

The American Craftsman style of architecture and design emerged in the late nineteenth century. Some of the same components seen in the Queen Anne style were streamlined in this home design. The gables, dramatic rooflines, and low-hanging eaves that were common in the previous era were kept in Craftsman-style residences.

The interior of the home was opened up and simplified, aimed at a growing American middle class. Gone were the servant quarters and hidden-away kitchens typical of Victorian construction, in favor of more open living, dining, and kitchen rooms.

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Craftsman_©habitathunters.com

6. High-Rise Buildings

Austin has grown to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, resulting in a massive influx of skyscrapers and other urban and new-generation structures similar to those seen in New York and Los Angeles. Iconic buildings like the Independent, The Austonian Texas Capitol, Frost Bank Tower, The Long Center for the Performing Arts, etc., have shaped the cityscape of Austin to become a landmark for tall skyscrapers in the United States.

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High-Rise Buildings_©skyscrapercenter.com

Austin’s architecture is a mix of old and new, with modern trends, technology, and classic architecture, all influencing the city’s design. Austin can project the future by embracing its history and creating new forms that respect and improve the architecture.

References

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Smithsonian Magazine. (n.d.). Keeping it Weird in Austin, Texas. [online] Available at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/keeping-it-weird-in-austin-texas-5541700/.

 [Accessed 20 Aug. 2021].

Bloom, L.B. (n.d.). Is Austin, Texas, The Best City In America? [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2019/05/31/is-austin-texas-the-best-city-in-america/?sh=6112426465c5.

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 [Accessed 20 Aug. 2021].

library.austintexas.gov. (n.d.). Brief History of Austin | Austin Public Library. [online] Available at: https://library.austintexas.gov/ahc/brief-history-austin.

[Accessed 20 Aug. 2021].

Nast, C. (2019). 3 Perfect Austin Itineraries for Design Lovers. [online] Architectural Digest. Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/austin-texas-3-design-guides.

 [Accessed 20 Aug. 2021].

www.austintexas.gov. (n.d.). Demographics | AustinTexas.gov. [online] Available at: https://www.austintexas.gov/department/demographics.

Lockshin, J. (2017). Austin TX Homes: 6 Iconic Home Styles You’ll Find in Austin. [online] Habitat Hunters, Inc. Available at: https://habitathunters.com/austin-tx-homes/.

 [Accessed 20 Aug. 2021].

Author

Abhishek Guha is an architecture undergraduate who wishes to create life altering spaces & experiences through his designs . His interests - writing, fashion, and cooking, are as erratic as he is. As a spontaneous extrovert who enjoys meeting new people, he seeks knowledge about the architectural paradigm while exploring the world.

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