We’re in Austin for a quick visit, and last night we attended a fine performance of the Austin Symphony Orchestra at the Long Center. The Long Center not only is a good place to listen to orchestral music, it also is a great place to admire the Austin skyline. Being across the river from the core downtown area, it allows you to get some distance and perspective.
Austin has a great skyline, and looking at it from one of the Long Center balconies got me to think about what makes a great skyline. The height of the skyscrapers helps, of course, but it is not dispositive. The key thing is variety, both in terms of the height of the buildings–to help create that classic, jagged, sawtooth look that we associate with skylines–but also in the design and depth of the buildings. Austin has some very tall buildings, but it also has a lot of architectural variety that makes the skyline interesting to study. The “jenga” building, and the graceful arc of the Google building, which looks like an unfurled sail from a distance, help to make the Austin skyline a lot more interesting.
Columbus has a decent skyline, and thanks to the LeVeque tower, and its art deco lineage, there is some architectural variety. The construction that has occurred over the past few years and the projects that are underway will go a long way to determining the long-term quality of the Columbus skyline, however. I’m hoping the architects of the new buildings are willing to take some risks on their designs, and provide a bit more visual diversity, so Columbus’ skyline ends up looking a lot more like Austin’s.