AUSTIN, Texas -- Austinites watched the tallest building in the city being constructed with a great deal of anticipation and curiousity.
The Independent, also known as the Jenga building, is now complete and residents have moved in.
The unusual building has caused a lot of buzz over the last five years. The Independent’s developer, Ryan Fetgetter, says that when they began working with the architect six years ago, they set out to create something bold and energetic.
“We wanted drama. We wanted to express a lot of creativity, and we wanted to bring just a lot of ideas into one cohesive building, and we wanted to create that for our residents as well,” Fetgetter said.
Fetgetter says The Independent is comprised of 363 condo units that feature a great deal of diversity. The condos range in price from $400,000 to $5 million.
In addition, the building features 20,000 square feet of amenities. Space on the ground floor has been sold for retail use, and it could accommodate a restaurant, but those tenants have yet to be announced.
The Independent’s architecture has caused a bit of controversy. Specifically, the building’s crown has caused some Austin residents to scratch their heads. In fact, an online petition has been circulating calling on developers to correct what has been perceived as “a mistake.” Petitioners thing the skyscraper looks unfinished, referring to it as a “stunning disappointment.”
However, according to the building’s designer, Brett Rhode, the building’s crown has a purpose, is functional, and was designed that way quite intentionally.
“There’s a lot of structure up there that stabilized the building. Very important. We also have a tuned damper, which is a way that we also prevent the building from swaying in high winds,” Rhode said. “So there’s a lot going on there. We didn’t want to try and hide all of that. We wanted to actually kind of express that.”
Rhodes suggests naysayers take a good look at the structure and stop by for a tour.
The Independent is located in the coveted Seaholm District. The area used to be an industrial section of downtown Austin but underwent a dramatic transformation. It’s now a vibrant, mixed-use urban neighborhood.
The area is home to popular restaurants including True foods and Flower Child. There’s a Trader Joe’s in the middle of everything. The decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant is the core of the district. It has been redeveloped into a landmark.
The award-winning Austin Central Library is located nearby. It opened in 2017 and has quickly become an Austin treasure. It features six floors of modern architecture, high-tech amenities, as well as a rooftop garden, café and bar.