Austin Museum of Art plans new downtown museum

AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) unveiled a rendering for the new downtown Museum facility and multi-purpose co-development that will be built on the block it owns at Fourth and Guadalupe Streets today. Additionally, a lead gift of $3 million from Bettye H. and William C. Nowlin for this phase of the institution's capital campaign was announced. The new Museum building will be developed in partnership with international developer Hines and acclaimed architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

"We've chosen to make this additional gift to AMOA, the largest gift we've made to any capital campaign, because this project is affordable, achievable, and what's right for Austin right now," said Bettye Nowlin, whose decade of philanthropic support for Austin civic and cultural organizations include service as the current president of the AMOA Board of Trustees. "This truly will be Austin's Museum of Art, featuring the work of local, regional, and national artists and reflecting the diversity and vitality of the area presented in a way that's uniquely Austin."

AMOA anticipates a campaign of approximately $23 million to cover hard and soft construction costs, transition expenses, and an increase of $2 million to the operating endowment. Funds already committed for the new project total 60 percent of the goal, and are comprised of donations remaining from the previous campaigns, the sale of the land, the Nowlin's lead gift, and several anonymous gifts, leaving just over $9 million for AMOA to reach their goal.

"We've spent the past five years strengthening our organization, building our audiences, and broadening our base of support in order to strategically position ourselves to succeed with this carefully-planned step forward," explained Dana Friis-Hansen, AMOA's Executive Director. "We're proud of what we've achieved downtown in our current facility—great exhibitions with established and emerging artists, the permanent FamilyLab, and innovative education programs for schoolchildren, families and adults—but a larger purpose-built facility will allow us to do so much more."

The new downtown facility will feature a three-story 40,000-square foot space at Fourth and Guadalupe Streets more than doubling the exhibition and education spaces from the Museum's present location. This will enable the Museum to increase the size, frequency, and variety of art on view, and expand educational programs.

The currently undeveloped block just south of Republic Square will also be home to Museum Tower, a 30-story, 425,000-square-foot office building that will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified office project in downtown Austin. Both the museum and the tower will be designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects of New Haven, CT, and developed by Hines, the international real estate firm. The Museum's owner's representative will be David Stauch, President and Founder of Herndon, Stauch & Associates, an Austin firm specializing in project and construction management. Bart Matheney of Aquila Commercial will be the exclusive leasing agent for Museum Tower.

The lead architect at Pelli Clarke Pelli echoed Nowlin's assessment. "Austin is a city very close to our hearts," said senior principal Fred Clarke, a graduate of the UT-Austin School of Architecture. "We have seen it become one of the most vibrant and successful communities in the country. Designing the museum, one of the most progressive programs in the country, as well as designing a new tower for the premier developer in Texas makes this one of the most significant commissions in the city."

Hines has operated in Austin since the mid-1970s, when it developed one of the city's first modern office buildings, the Bank of America Tower located at Fifth and Congress. The firm owns and manages 301 Congress, which is four blocks from the new museum site, and has developed office and civic projects around the globe, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Audrey Jones Beck Building designed by Rafael Moneo. Hines recently announced plans to develop a Jean Nouvel-designed mixed-use tower in midtown Manhattan adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) that will include a 50,000-square-foot expansion of the museum's galleries. The Hines and Pelli Clarke Pelli team was recently selected to develop the Transbay Transit Center and Tower in San Francisco. In addition, the two firms are working together on a major mixed-use project at Boston's historic South Station.

"Environmental sensitivity and energy efficiency have been distinguishing features of our projects for decades, and we are looking forward to developing the first LEED-certified office building in downtown Austin," said Hines Vice President Travis Overall. "We are very pleased to partner with AMOA in bringing two important projects to the last undeveloped block in this area of the CBD."

The new development will add to the strength of the civic and cultural district emerging around Republic Square, including Austin's City Hall, Ballet Austin Dance Education Center, renovated Austin Music Hall, the growing retail and residential activity along Second Street, and planned Austin City Limits Studio, and future federal courthouse.

"Strong cultural institutions like the Austin Museum of Art provide the backbone for vibrant urban centers," said Austin Mayor Will Wynn. "The permanent downtown location for AMOA will be one of downtown's cultural jewels, transforming a surface parking lot into a 21st century museum and a LEED-certified office tower while continuing to build the city's tax base and bring life to our urban core."