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Entry to the parking garage is on the Lavaca Street side.
For Tours of City Hall, contact Melodye Foust at 512.974.7819
The doors of the City Hall open at 7:45 a.m. Mon-Fri. The doors close to the public at 7 p.m. Access to other areas of the building is typically is not allowed until 9 a.m.
The building is not open to the public on the weekends.
|City Auditor’s Office||1||512-974-2805|
|City Clerk’s Office||2||512-974-2210|
|City Council Member Offices||3||See directory|
|City Manager's Office||3||512-974-2200|
|Communications & Public Information Office||3||512-974-2220|
|Financial and Administrative Services Department||3||512-974-3344|
|Information, City of Austin||3-1-1 or 512-974-2000|
|Lost & Found||1||512-974-2668|
Reflecting Austin’s natural beauty, Austin City Hall is a unique landmark gateway to Austin City government. The building and plaza serve as a gathering place for public discourse and community collaboration with informality, friendliness, environmental sensitivity and innovative technology.
Built of Texas limestone and sitting on the site of a once-raucous 19th Century bordello district, Austin’s copper-clad City Hall is as unique as the community it serves.
The following key concepts were integrated into the design:
The City Hall building belongs to our citizenry and the entire design is intended to embrace the spirit and identity of Austin and reinforce the mutual respect between the Council and the citizens of Austin.
The geometry of the building is a result of the design team wanting to create a more informal feeling, to reflect Austin's open approach to its government. The concept of government transparency is apparent to passers-by inside the building with glass walls fronting all of the meeting rooms and the Council Chambers.
The Board and Commission Room and Council Chambers visually extend into the plaza with large windows as a reminder to those inside and outside of the balance of government and citizens coming together for the common pursuit of exchanging ideas and shaping policy.
The outdoor spaces on the plaza are ideal for free expression and can accommodate large gatherings without interrupting the process inside.
|Year Built||Size||Cost||LEED Certification|
|2004||65 feet tall above ground and 45 feet underground
4 stories above ground and 3 stories below ground
115,000 square feet of space
750 parking spaces
|$56.6 million including the garage and hard and soft costs.||Gold|
The design of Austin City Hall was created through a unique public-private partnership between the City of Austin and internationally-renowned architect, Antoine Predock, and respected Austin design firm, Cotera, Kolar, Negrete & Reed.
Antoine Predock is frequently called one of the top architects working in the United States. The New York Times noted that his buildings tell us "how it is possible for a piece of architecture to be deeply ingrained in the architectural traditions of a place, yet unlike anything we have seen before." Predock calls architecture "a fascinating journey toward the unexpected" and says that his architecture belongs as much to the land as to his own ideas.
During the architect selection process, Predock showed his ability to understand and connect with the many facets of the environment he would be working in when he talked about how City Hall "should have dignity and timelessness but should have the playfulness that Austin communicates to the world." Based in Albuquerque, N.M., Predock's architecture is known for its sensitivity to the environment of the Southwest, but he's also worked in other parts of the country and has won numerous national and international design awards. For more information, see www.predock.com.The architectural firm of Cotera, Kolar, Negrete & Reed has been respected in Austin for decades and concentrate on projects that demonstrate social consciousness and represent the values of the partners.
The design of Council Chambers is bright and open, and speaks to the City's commitment to transparent government. There are many vantage points to monitor the meetings, including video screens in the lobby and several glass windows with views from outside on the plaza and in the atrium.
Sixteen copper “clouds,” bearing a resemblance to bat wings, hang from the ceiling and not only provide aesthetic interest, but also improve sound in the room with corrugated acoustic panels hidden inside them.
Mayor and City Council Members, along with the City Manager and City Attorney, sit at a raised dais facing the audience.
The dais, constructed of pecan veneer, includes a decorative band on the outer edge of salvaged wood from the historic Treaty Oak. The oak band runs the length of the dais and is placed where most Council Members may rest their hands, thus putting them in touch with the City's history as they decide its future.
The placement of the plaza recognizes Lady Bird Lake as the city's dominant geographical organizing element. The plaza further recognizes the bond between nature and the Austin community, as a gathering place for all of its citizens and is the public's "living room" on a grand scale. The plaza is a focal point for everyone, and will provide its visitors with a uniquely Austin experience.
The main plaza winds its way around large limestone peninsulas which create multiple seating and gathering areas of different scales to support picnics, musical performances and large public events.
The 40-foot waterfall wall extends from the plaza down into the garage, a symbolic gesture by the architect to ground the building in the earth by touching the bedrock. It also provides daylight for the 3-story-deep parking garage. Water cascades down the rock face to a pool at the base of the garage, reflecting the local geography of the Balcones Escarpment or water entering a limestone cave and recharging the aquifer.
When one enters the building, the outdoors is not left behind. Visitors find themselves in a limestone canyon formed with the same Leuders limestone used on the facility’s exterior. Architect Antoine Predock shunned the idea that this open space is a typical lobby, instead calling it “a theater of Austin.”
Looking skyward, one finds a copper canopy that envelopes the top two floors and partly extends to a third. The atrium ceiling and walls are coated to retain its bright copper sheen. Concrete bridges intersecting the four-story indoor atrium space enhance the building’s friendly attitude by allowing people to see others as they circulate throughout the building.
The third floor offers an ideal vantage point to observe the open, friendly City Hall in action. One can see meetings in the glass-walled conference rooms and watch employees moving busily along the bridges connecting the two sides of the building. Looking down to the second floor, visitors can see one glass conference room perched over the atrium. Employees quickly dubbed it the “fishbowl.”
Through a doorway above the north entrance, visitors can venture onto the balcony under the “stinger” for a view of the Austin Convention Center to the east and the Seaholm Power Plant to the west, the two anchors of a developing Second Street District.
The U.S. Green Building Council certified Austin City Hall with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold in July 2006 in the new construction category.
During the design process, the City Council challenged the design team to create a sustainable building that reflects Austin’s international status as green building experts. The team’s goal was to pursue a Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council as part of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The design strongly embodies sustainable principles by using local and recycled materials, native plants and trees, efficient water and energy appliances, water efficient landscaping and improved indoor environmental quality and exceeded the goal by achieving a LEED Gold rating.
Austin City Hall staff are working toward recertification under the LEED category for existing buildings which addresses whole-building maintenance issues including, cleaning, chemical use, recycling programs, maintenance programs and systems upgrades.
The construction materials used in City Hall were not only selected for their natural beauty, but also for their sustainable qualities, including:
Approximately 66,000 square feet of copper – equivalent to 12 million copper pennies – wraps Austin City Hall. Together with the limestone and concrete, the building material forms a durable, low maintenance envelope.
The copper is 82% recycled content and remanufactured in Texas. Together with the limestone and concrete, the building material forms a durable, low maintenance envelope.
The exterior copper is exposed to the elements and has begun turning brown and in about 30 years will be gray with a blue-green tint. The interior copper is coated and will retain its copper color and shine.
The limestone blocks inside and outside the building were quarried from the Lueders Basin near Abilene, Texas. Since Lueders Limestone is denser and absorbs less water than other limestone, it withstands extreme weather and maintains its natural appearance.
A pecan veneer provides a beautiful and natural look to the doors and other wood surfaces in the building. Pecan wood is a local resource with ties to our heritage, as the pecan tree is the state tree. The long tables in the Council Chambers are pecan veneer on the outside with compressed straw on the inside, both excellent renewable resources.
Many of the building materials are made with a high degree of recycled content, including 99 percent of the reinforcing steel, 90 percent of the wallboard, 82 percent of the copper and 45 percent of the concrete masonry.
The carpet throughout the building is made out of recycled plastic from milk jugs and is installed in square pieces. In the event of a stain or damage, the carpet squares make it easy to replace small sections instead of replacing the carpet in an entire room.
The architect team succeeded in diverting more than 75 percent of the construction waste through re-use and recycling.
Austin City Hall’s power comes from clean, renewable sources from Austin Energy’s GreenChoice Renewable Energy Program, the nation's most successful utility-sponsored green energy program. Using green power generated from renewable sources, like the wind and the sun, helps Austin’s air quality by not adding pollution to the atmosphere.
A canopy of photovoltaic cells over the amphitheater seating provides shade and generates direct current electricity which is supplied to the City’s electric grid. The panels produce enough solar power to produce 9 kilowatts of energy daily, enough to power two Austin homes on hot summer days. The solar energy system was installed by Janet Hughes, one of only two female Master Electricians in Texas at the time.
Austin City Hall ties into the district cooling system that provides chilled water for air conditioning.
Austin Energy’s district cooling plant sits on top of the State of Texas parking garage at Third and San Antonio Streets and is connected to over a dozen buildings in the area by a closed loop underground pipe system. The system works by creating ice at night when energy demand is lowest. During the day, the water in the pipes is chilled by the icy coils and then circulates to the customers’ air handlers. This saves an immense amount of energy demand during the daytime peak hours – enough to equal the demand of over 4,500 homes – and removes the need for noisy and unsightly traditional air conditioning systems that often contain environmentally hazardous gases.
In 2007, District Cooling Plant 1 was renamed the Paul Robbins District Cooling Plant in honor of Paul Robbins, an environmental and green energy activist that frequently addresses the Austin City Council and who was instrumental in driving the cooling plant concept to fruition. Austin Energy has since added additional district cooling systems at Fifth and Sabine Streets near the Austin Convention Center and in the Mueller and Domain redevelopments.
A high-efficiency natural gas boiler is used to provide hot water and heating for the building. The hydronic heating system works by heating the water in a closed-loop water pipe system with the boiler and then circulating the hot water to the building air handler to distribute the heat.
Windows have been strategically placed in Austin City Hall for daylighting of all levels of the building to reduce the need for electricity. The atrium is well-lit by a clearstory, a large windowed wall that is higher than the surrounding roof. A lightwell, an open space that extends down several levels, provides lighting for the 3-story underground parking garage.
The energy systems in Austin City Hall are maintained through a continuous commissioning program. Energy consumption and system performance is monitored through the program and conservation experts provide periodic calibrations and improvement suggestions.
The light switches in Austin City Hall all have occupancy sensors which conserve electricity by turning on the lights when movement is detected in a room and then turning off the lights when no one is present.
All appliances in Austin City Hall are Energy Star rated for energy efficiency.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are used instead of incandescent lamps whenever possible because they give the same amount of visible light while using less power and last longer.
The air conditioning system and the lights in the parking garage are demand-based, and save electricity by powering down to a minimum level in zones that are not in use. Another demand-based feature is the innovative carbon-monoxide sensing system in the underground parking garage that allows the ventilation system fans to operate at slower speeds when concentrations are low, resulting in yearly energy cost savings estimated at more than $200,000.
Condensation from the building’s air handling system is used to supply water for the two water features on the plaza of City Hall, allowing the flow of water even during times of water rationing.
A small underground spring was discovered on site during the excavation of the parking garage, so a holding tank is used to collect the water and irrigate the landscaping. If the tank goes dry, potable water will be used for irrigation. The tank ran dry for the first time in the fall of 2008 after a long, hot drought year.
The sinks in all of the restrooms are equipped with sensors that turn on the water when motion is detected in the bowl, and automatically turn off the water when not in use. Low-flow fixtures are also installed throughout Austin City Hall including the sinks, toilets and locker room shower heads.
Timers are used for the irrigation systems and follow the criteria set by the water use management ordinance which requires watering to only occur at night and on designated watering days.
Building Services strives to maintain Austin City Hall using methods that protect the indoor and outdoor environment and conserve resources.
Whenever possible, processes and pending purchases are examined to see if there are alternative products or procedures that could conserve resources. For example, City Hall staff is banned from purchasing water in single-use bottles for meetings or as office drinking water. As an alternative, Building Services installed “watering stations” with tap water, glasses and pitchers, ice machine and dishwasher.
Many materials are collected and recycled in City Hall, including bottles, cans, rigid plastics, paper, cardboard, batteries, inkjet cartridges, fluorescent bulbs, drywall and ceiling tiles. Where possible, materials are reused.
Building Services purchases maintenance materials and paper products with as much recycled content as possible for the job at hand.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are generated by paints, chemicals, carpets and furnishings and are key contributors to poor air quality and sick building syndrome. Building Services prohibits the use of products with VOCs in the building whenever possible.
All of the furniture in City Hall is low VOC, and all new purchases must also be low VOC. Pressboard bookshelves and other furniture are not allowed because they off-gas formaldehyde and other lung irritants.
All cleaning products used in City Hall are water-based and non-toxic. Staff strives to find no-VOC alternatives for all maintenance purposes, like no-VOC paints.
Whenever possible, operating procedures are examined for ways to incorporate more sustainable methods. One example is air quality in the parking garage: when there is a line of idling cars waiting to exit the garage after a large public event, staff is increased to facilitate faster checkouts at the payment gate and the outer exit gates are raised to reduce idling.
Austin City Hall was designed to promote public participation and interaction with local government as well as engaging in Austin’s diverse cultural arts. The building provides several avenues for artistic expression through art, music and performance activities day and night. The energy of the building effortlessly flows into hubs of activity occurring simultaneously inside and outside.
Pockets of space on the plaza, atrium or conference rooms provide ideal intimate locations for small events like photo shoots, artist workshops, poetry readings, demonstrations and temporary exhibits.
City Council Meeting Music
Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World" and each City Council meeting features a live music performance by a local musician or band in the Council Chambers.
Austin City Hall showcases the talents of local artists with an extensive annual art exhibition in the atrium and open areas of the first three floors. The People’s Gallery is designed to encourage public dialogue, understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts. Approximately 150 contemporary artworks are on display, including paintings, photographs, sculptures and more. The success of this program is due to the generosity of the Austin artists, galleries, collectors and museums who loan their pieces to the exhibition for the enjoyment of Austin residents and visitors to City Hall.
You may view the exhibit for free anytime the building is open. Pick up the People’s Gallery brochure in the atrium or second floor lobby for a self-guided tour and information about each artwork and artist.
For more information about the exhibit or call for artworks, please visit http://austintexas.gov/department/peoples-gallery.
Internationally renowned artist Nobuho Nagasawa designed the public artwork, Seeding Time, which is integrated into the architecture and landscape of City Hall’s plaza and will evolve slowly through time.
This artwork is centered on a sapling grown from an acorn harvested
in the year 2000 from the 500 year old Austin Treaty Oak.
The life of this young sapling will evolve slowly with the passage of time.
Five rings chart the size of its leaf canopy for the next five centuries,
each ring representing 100 years of growth.
A spiral of boulders, a sun eclipsing a moon, a circling mist and blue light
create a landscape from the past and from five centuries in the future.
- Nobuho Nagasawa
A self-described "detective," Nagasawa delves deep into a community’s history and experiences for inspiration for each of her public artworks. "I would like to be a translator of history, memories and the collective unconscious of the community and to explore the social and personal facets that would galvanize public interaction," says Nagasawa. Born in Japan, Nobuho Nagasawa makes her home in Santa Cruz, California where she teaches studio art at the University of California Santa Cruz.
An oak tree sapling grown from an acorn of the historic Austin Treaty Oak is planted in the center of the gathering place. This second generation Treaty Oak is a representation of the future, the future of the city and the people of Austin, the future of generations to come. At the same time the young oak tree is a living genetic link to the past of the city, the people, the past of previous generations. The tree will grow with the future of Austin, and carry with it the stories of the past. City Hall is Austin’s gathering place, a place to administer the functions of the city, and a place for celebration and ceremony. The second generation Treaty Oak with the genes of its ancestor tree, the sacred gathering place for the Native Americans, will signify this gathering place as well.
Treaty Oak History http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/treatyoak/hist1.htm
Five rings, each representing 100 years of growth, are imbedded and inscribed in the landscape and the plaza paving area to mark the estimated growth of the canopy of the Treaty Oak sapling for the next five centuries. The rings make an important reference to the past, the 500 years of growth of the old tree; and to the future, the future of the sapling tree. This element will provide another way of seeing "time," in a way that will evoke the imagination.
A spiral of nine locally-quarried native boulders also encircles the sapling oak. The boulder types include basalt, sandstone, granite and limestone.
A crescent moon-shaped stone paving area acts as the installation’s portal and signifies using the phases of the moon as a way of measuring time.
Limestone has a strong presence and is “analogous to geologic forces.” It has been used both symbolically and structurally in the design of City Hall and is used in Seeding Time to create a semi-circle of seating around the sapling oak.
Native Americans used baskets to collect acorns, a staple food, and this second-generation Treaty Oak will drop acorns into this gathering place as it grows into a mature tree.
At pre-determined hours during the day and night, a fog of fine mist will rise around the Treaty Oak. At night the mist will be infused with blue light.
Faces of Austin
Reflecting Austin’s reputation as a high-tech leader and as a city rich in cultural vitality, Faces of Austin shows films on demand in the lobby of City Hall. Featured works highlight Austin’s unique sense of place and diverse cultural identity and showcase the creative talent of Central Texas filmmakers.
The City of Austin Public Service Employee Memorial is a permanent display at City Hall that honors employees who have lost their lives or were killed in the line of duty while serving with dedication in their capacity as Police Officers, Firefighters and other City employees.
Wooden figures representing our fallen colleagues are the unique creations of Retired Police Capt. John N. Vasquez, who was inspired by the spirit of these individuals and whittled and painted representations of many of the employees. Also included in the permanent memorial will be an interactive kiosk with biographies and photographs of each employee.
The memorial will educate visitors about the impact of these individuals' lives and service to the City of Austin. The project will honor their memory and celebrate their lives and service to Austin citizens while offering healing to those who knew and loved them.