Travis County District Attorney's Office
The new Travis County District Attorney (TCDA) office building is at the intersection of three neighborhoods: downtown Austin, the Criminal Justice District and the lower-scale residential fabric of west Austin. Consequently, the building design is shaped by its context and will help connect the three neighborhoods together.
A key factor in the recent resurgence of downtown Austin has been the implementation of the Great Streets development program. The TCDA site design honors the city’s master plan by implementing the intent of Great Streets to improve public right-of-ways in the form of generous street tree plantings, benches, bike racks and sidewalk pavers along West 11th Street. All these will help pedestrianize West 11th and create a campus feel for the Criminal Justice District.
The TCDA building stands across West 11th Street from the Travis County Courthouse, which Page also designed in the 1930s. Today's design takes many cues from its relative by incorporating the strong, regular and patterned verticality of its neighbor as well as the interruption of that pattern for exceptions such as entries and public spaces.
The TCDA building honors its residential neighbors to the west by adopting a color scheme of a primarily white building grounded with a green, vegetated base. In particular, the Allan House across the street is an exemplar of a white, classically proportioned building with inviting trees and outdoor spaces.
The design preserves a magnificent Heritage Live Oak tree along West 11th. The building is pulled back from the edge of the street in deference to the tree. This provides a greater sense of openness to West 11th as well as allowing more sunlight onto the sidewalk below.
Occupants and visitors alike enter the building beneath the dappled shadows of the oak tree across a small plaza. This helps extend the public space of the street and enlivens the composition of the TCDA building and the new PTA office to also be built next door.
As well as being a good neighbor, the TCDA building is a good steward of energy. It has been awarded an AEGB three star rating and LEED Silver certification. Because the site is compact and densely programmed, the design provides as much daylight within the building as possible by using primarily glass curtain wall as its means of enclosure.
Since the bright Texas sun provides not only daylight but also heat and glare, the design has carefully incorporated deep vertical sunshades of frosted glass that allow maximum daylight deep into to the office spaces while cutting down glare and reducing heat gain on the glass curtain wall. The sun shades have been thoughtfully tuned for maximum performance on each façade.
In fact, the west-facing sun shades are rotated 17 degrees to cut off the harsh western sun while the east and south facades incorporate shading devices that are perpendicular to the curtain wall. This also maximizes the comfort level for the building’s occupants, regardless of location.
The TCDA building design also successfully targeted water efficiency. It achieved 100% irrigation water use reduction through the selection of native and adaptable plants and the installation of a 500 gallon condensate collection tank.
Publications + News
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- Travis Commissioners Approve $42 Million District Attorney’s Building
- Page tops list of Austin's architecture firms again
- First Look: Travis Co. DA's office tower to break ground downtown soon