When in Rome
By Jenny Staff Johnson, Fri., Oct. 1, 1999
Houston developer Randall Davis says the initial reaction to Page Southerland Page's rendering of the Gotham was unwarranted. "It is not an accurate depiction of the building," Davis says. "The artist's rendering was just a rendering."
The rendering in question, complete with a bio of Davis lauding him as the visionary creator of "elegant living spaces for the affluent," earned Gotham derision in several quarters, including the pages of the Chronicle, for seeming better suited to Las Vegas than Austin. The buzz surrounding the project was such that a rumor circulated a totally unfounded rumor, mind you that the building would have doormen bedecked in togas.
Davis was outraged by the characterization. He warned the Chronicle that the initial, over-the-top Greek-style rendering was a misrepresentation, and he would not agree to an interview unless the Chronicle agreed to print the new rendering (shown here), which he said had been completed within the last two weeks. (The rendering shown on the cover of this issue is the original, altered to reflect the changes made in the second rendering namely, the removal of the statuary on the front and back of the building, and the word "Gotham" engraved on the front.)
When asked how the artist originally misrepresented the building he had in mind, Davis did not articulate a conflicting vision, but rather explained how the building would be altered to accommodate the objections of locals. "All of the statuary that was on the south side has been removed. All statuary on the first floor at the base has been removed. All statuary on the fourth floor has been removed. The only remaining ornamentation of any significance is the crowning pediment," which Davis says was vital to retaining the building's classical look.
"I am not deaf," says Davis. "I hear from the people who work with me in Austin that there were some concerns that it might. ... need to be toned down a bit. I appreciate the fact that Austin is a city unto its own, and residents of Austin have a voice. You're in Rome, you do what the Romans do ... I want to fit in with this building."
Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.