Austin Museum of Art: On the Count of Three, a New Home

For the third time, AMOA is moving forward with plans to build a permanent facility Downtown

Dana Friis-Hansen proudly showing off AMOA's new digs
Dana Friis-Hansen proudly showing off AMOA's new digs (Photo by John Anderson)

The third time looks to be the charm for the Austin Museum of Art, which made official on Tuesday its latest plan to build a Downtown home on the block at Fourth and Guadalupe, just south of Republic Square Park. As announced by AMOA Executive Director Dana Friis-Hansen, the new plan involves a partnership with Houston-based development firm Hines, which will acquire the western half of the block for a 30-story, 425,000-square-foot office building to be called Museum Tower. On the eastern half of the block will be a new three-story museum facility with 40,000 square feet of space, roughly double what AMOA has at 823 Congress, the museum's home for the last 12 years. To ensure an architectural unity between the two buildings, both will be designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

This will be AMOA's third shot at building a new facility, following efforts to construct a Robert Venturi design in the mid-Eighties and a Richard Gluckman design in the late Nineties. Both fell victim to economic downturns, along with other mitigating factors (cultural politics in the former, internal politics in the latter), and had to be abandoned. What makes this effort different are both the scope – much more modest in terms of size and cost relative to the museum's resources – and the business plan, which combines a traditional nonprofit capital campaign with a corporate partnership. AMOA will be able to obtain a substantial amount of income from the sale of the land, and that will be combined with a $3 million lead gift from Bettye H. and William C. Nowlin, also announced Tuesday. With several other anonymous gifts and donations remaining from the previous campaigns, the museum is 60% of the way to the $23 million that will cover construction costs, transition expenses, and a $2 million increase to the operating endowment. That leaves slightly more than $9 million to be raised, which seems to be an eminently achievable goal to museum leaders. More information to come next week. (See more coverage in the "Naked City.")

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Austin Museum of Art, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Hines, William and Bettye Nowlin, Dana Friis-Hansen

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