Austin's 9 Most Beautiful Contemporary Buildings

Stuart Seeger/Flickr
Stuart Seeger/Flickr
Photo of Anna Carruth
4 January 2017

Austin, Texas boasts a series of exceptional older buildings like the iconic Texas State Capitol and The Driskill Hotel, but it’s also home to a variety of unique modern structures. Culture Trip brings you some of Austin’s best contemporary buildings.

Frost Bank Tower

Frost Bank Tower |©Kumar Appaiah/Flickr
Frost Bank Tower | ©Kumar Appaiah/Flickr
The Frost Bank Tower is one of the most iconic and well-known buildings in Austin. Standing 515 feet tall with 33 floors, it is the third-tallest building in Austin. The tower, designed by Duda/Paine Architects, is primarily constructed out of blue low-e glass skin, one of only two buildings in the world made out of that material. Many believe that when looked at from a certain angle, the Frost Bank Tower resembles an owl.

Austin Convention Center

The Austin Convention Center during South by Southwest (SXSW), 2010
The Austin Convention Center during South by Southwest (SXSW), 2010 | © Peter Tsai Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
The Austin Convention Center is an enormous, 881,400-square-foot structure located in the heart of downtown Austin. The building is a combination of glass and stone and contains five exhibit halls, 54 meeting rooms, and two ballrooms, as well as a beautiful multi-level solar atrium. The Austin Convention Center is home to a wide variety of events and conventions, including the South By Southwest Interactive, Music, Edu, and Film festivals. The Center’s website offers a 360° virtual online tour that showcases the building’s architecture and design.

Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library

Building, Library, Museum, University
LBJ Library
LBJ Library | ©LBJ Library and Museum/WikiCommons
The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library is located right on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus; President Johnson was an attendee. While the original structure was dedicated in 1971, in 2012 it underwent a multimillion-dollar redesign. The building itself is a monolithic stone structure; the original building was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and the redesign by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill. Inside the library and museum are three stories of documents, photographs, and mementos of President Johnson, including a replica of the Oval Office from his time there.

The Austonian

The Austonian is a luxury residential high-rise located in downtown Austin. At 683 feet and 56 floors, the Austonian is the tallest building in Austin and the tallest residential building in Texas. Designed by Ziegler Cooper architects, the building was originally proposed in 2006 as a 700-foot skyscraper, but was pushed down to 683 feet, completed in 2010, and opened to the public the very same year. The building offers a variety of amenities to its residents, including custom interior design.

Austin City Hall

Austin City Hall
Austin City Hall | ©That Other Paper/Flickr
Austin City Hall sits in downtown Austin across from the Colorado River, and serves as the city’s house of government. The building, designed by Antoine Predock and Cotera, Kolar, Negrete, Reed, is built on top of the 19th century bordello district and is constructed out of Texas limestone and copper. The building’s unconventional design is meant to reflect Austin’s unique culture while also being accessible, playful, and environmentally focused. Austin City Hall is also home to The People’s Gallery, an exhibition meant to celebrate local art.

The Long Center for Performing Arts

Park, Theater
Long Center
The Long Center | © LoneStarMike/WikiCommons
The Long Center for Performing Arts is an iconic Austin landmark, with its circular ‘ring-beam,’ its glass structure, and its beautiful paneled aluminum roof. Also designed by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, the Long Center is an expansion of the Palmer Events Center and is now a multi-venue structure with a theater, auditorium, and outdoor concert park, along with the original Palmer Dome. The Long Center was also designed with environmental sustainability in mind, having been constructed primarily out of recycled construction materials.

One Congress Plaza

One Congress Plaza | ©Billy Hathorn/WikiCommons
One Congress Plaza is another recognizable Austin building. It is known for its ‘stair stepping’ pyramid structure, which exists because of height restrictions in the 1930s; it was gradually built up in tiered sections as restrictions lifted. It is also notable for its color, featuring a red granite façade, which appears to change colors depending on the time of day. One Congress Plaza is also renowned for its sunken outdoor plaza, which contains trees and benches. It was designed by Susman Tisdale Gale in 1987 as part of Austin’s construction boom and is located downtown along Congress Avenue.


Building, Swimming Pool
360 Condos
360 Condos | ©LoneStarMike/WikiCommons
The 360 Condominiums skyscraper is a luxury residential complex in downtown Austin. The building, which was completed in 2008, stands 581 feet tall with 44 floors and 14,000 square feet of retail space. It was designed by the Preston Partnership and was the tallest building in Austin in 2008 and 2009. The 360 Condominiums building has a wide rectangular base that is reduced to a sleek, pseudo-triangular shape, with an asymmetrical spire on the top. The building has a terrace level on the 17th floor and a swimming pool and sundeck on the 8th floor.

Lance Armstrong Foundation Headquarters

The Lance Armstrong Foundation Headquarters is a beautiful, airy workspace in a reconstructed warehouse located in East Austin. The Headquarters were renovated in 2010. The building’s open façade and roof flood it with natural light, giving it a modern and open feel. The renovation kept the main structure of the warehouse but repurposed it into something fresh and modern, making it an understated yet beautiful contemporary Austin building.

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