Architecture & Lodging
2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks

Kenny Braun

Best Architectural Trend

Spikes of rebar tangle in the twilight. Walls leading nowhere and connecting to nothing create monolithic shadows on streets under perpetual construction. You voted for this year's biggest Austin architectural trend, folks, and here you have it: the Empty, Unfinished Building! Actually this new BOA award yielded some interesting answers, attesting to many of your penchants for design and livability. Non-winning answers ranged from specific details like "cupola," "galvanized steel," and "bigger closets," to broad strokes like "modernism," "retro," and "straw bale." While some advocated green glass and others green building, the majority of our readers, inspired by the likes of boondoggles like Intel and CSC, chose to tell it like it is.

Best New Building in the Past Five Years

Mmmmmm, you like 'em neo-classical, eh? What is it? The towering columns? The rosy, pink afterglow of the fine slabs of Texas granite? The luscious, matronly orb that covers the top? Ooohhhh … Aaaaahhhh … Did E. Vernor Johnson & Associates of Dallas have any clue that they were creating such a sexy landmark?

Bullock Texas State History Museum
1800 Congress
512/936-4629
www.thestoryoftexas.com

Best Downtown Building

Instead of voting for new high-rise loft buildings or other trendy developents, y'all just couldn't help but show your Texas state pride again this year. The centerpiece on our town's table, the Texas State Capitol is your fave, yet again. Guided tours are offered daily, but it is also fun to simply wander around amid the camera-toting tourists and take in the majesty of the building -- even if you're not crazy about what goes on there.

Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress
512/305-8400
www.tspb.state.tx.us

Best Downtown Place to Park

Okay, so that's not really its name. But we didn't make it up. A significant portion of our readership knows from garages, and this one in particular is your fave for downtown parking. While, like last year, a sizable number of ballots came in marked "Are you kidding?" and "nowhere," the overwhelming tally was for the State of Texas employees parking garage off Fourth & Nueces. So why is it called the Gayrage? No lurid tales to tell, sorry, folks. It's simply because of the carpark's proximity to the "Big Four" of mighty Austin's gay clubs: the Rainbow Cattle Company, the Forum, Boyz Cellar, and Oilcan Harry's.

Texas State Employees Garage
Fourth & Nueces

Kenny Braun

Best Restoration Project in the Past Five Years

This eye-catching landmark has been an Austin beauty queen since 1886. Each of its 188 guestrooms and suites were returned to the turn-of-the-century decor (with modern amenities), when the Driskill underwent a three-year, multi-million-dollar restoration. This past July, the Driskill also opened its most delicious new improvement, the 1886 Cafe & Bakery on the site of the fabled 1886 Lunchroom.

The Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos
512/439-1234
www.driskillhotel.com

Best Online Texas Guide

What makes Austin360 such a good guide is that it's dot-comprehensive and dot-straightforward. No fancy schmancy interface here. Just pick your poison – jobs, entertainment, restaurants, clubs, organization, homes – and click, and you're quickly delivered to another easy-to-navigate page, making Austin information way easy to access.

Austin360.com
512/445-3500
www.austin360.com

Best Neighborhood

Were the Cold War still frosty, one could easily mistake the neighborhood called Hyde Park as some huge KGB training facility, where cultural agents are taught how to be perfect Americans. Lawns are perfectly coiffed and lightly peppered with Timmy's (aka Anatoly's) toys. Fresh-scrubbed cars are tasteful and discreetly middle class. The neighbors are friendly and mobile in an upwardly fashion. American? Heck, this dynamic, well-planned historic neighborhood is about as red, white, and blue as you can get. Da!

Hyde Park Neighborhood Association
PO Box 49427
www.austinhydepark.org

Best Billboard

From what we can find, this clever bit of road signage comes courtesy of our Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (née TNRCC) as part of a larger ad campaign to address the growing concern of (no they are not kidding) pet waste. Pepé and Precious' poop had become cause for consternation, as pet waste washes into storm drains and gets into the waterways. Eeeeeeeewwwwwww.

Kenny Braun

Best Mural

The visual splendors of ex-pat Austin artists, musical fringe legend Daniel Johnston and punk rock poster man Frank Kozik, include a flying eyeball, two spiky, four-eyed, lovable geckos (think: Keith Haring on acid), a faded image of Jack Nicholson from The Shining ("Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"), and our personal favorite: a froggy extraterrestrial welcoming you with a "Hi, how are you." Guess our space friends are still working out punctuation.

Best Public Artwork

There he stands, bluesman Stevie Ray "Gone but Not Forgotten" Vaughan, in heroic scale be-caped and cowboy-booted, casting a long tall shadow and offering a place for countless fans to come, remember, and fill his hands with flowers, picks, and cigs, ringing his feet with candles, and singing the blues that he's gone.

Auditorium Shores at the Long Center
South First at Lady Bird Lake
512/482-0800

Best Storefront/Sign

The motel is about as funky as it gets, with 41 rooms spread out over three buildings built in decidedly different eras (1938, 1950, 1969). This is not the Four Seasons. Welcome to Planet Austin Motel, slogan: "So Close, Yet So Far Out." Since 1938 this fabulous neon sign (refurbished by Todd Sanders) has decorated South Congress and helped tired travelers find their way to one of Austin's favorite and funkiest of landmarks.

Austin Motel
1220 S. Congress
512/441-1157
www.austinmotel.com

Best Bed & Breakfast

This spectacular gem set in the heart of West Campus is an Austin treasure. Over 100 years old, it is a lovingly restored neo-classical Victorian beauty offering history and romance. Choose from 10 gloriously appointed rooms, each bearing the name of a Texas governor.

Best Hotel

Once a rundown residential dump, the Hotel San José is now a sparse, spectacular, comfy, contemporary center of cool, from the concrete and red hardwood floors to the mini-balconies and the heated pool ensconced in a most relaxed courtyard area. The continental breakfast, stylin' bar, and warm-weather catering festivities are all just gravy.

Hotel San José
1316 S. Congress
512/852-2350
www.sanjosehotel.com

Best Motel

The motel is about as funky as it gets, with 41 rooms spread out over three buildings built in decidedly different eras (1938, 1950, 1969). This is not the Four Seasons. Welcome to Planet Austin Motel, slogan: "So Close, Yet So Far Out." Since 1938, this fabulous neon sign (refurbished by Todd Sanders) has decorated South Congress and helped tired travelers find their way to one of Austin's favorite and funkiest of landmarks.

Austin Motel
1220 S. Congress
512/441-1157
www.austinmotel.com

Kenny Braun

Best Romantic Spot

The beautiful views of Austin's rolling hills to the west and shimmering skyline to the south -- not to mention a perfect environment to just sit back, relax, enjoy nature, and smooch your sweetie -- pulls at our readers' heartstrings year after year after year.

Mount Bonnell at Covert Park
3851 Mount Bonnell Dr.
512/974-6700

 
2002 Intro
Readers: Arts & Culture

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