Appreciating Extravagance

First Citizens Bank - Austin, Texas

First Citizens Bank – Austin, Texas

When I was young, I believed that form should follow function, when it came to design, especially of buildings. I didn’t like or appreciate excessive baroque ornamentation. I thought it was gaudy. Give me the clean efficiency of the modernist boxes, I said.

As I’ve grown older, my tastes have definitely changed. I appreciate the details and the whimsey. My sheer boredom with cheap modern construction may have also played a part.

Austin doesn’t have many grand old buildings. It was a small city during the heyday of elaborate Beaux-Arts architecture. What little we did have was torn down, become parking lots for a while, until the recent flurry of construction.

It’s nice to see that a few examples of extravagant architecture remain, like this building on Congress Avenue.

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2 thoughts on “Appreciating Extravagance

  1. It’s also good that the building still retains its authentic look at street level, at least from the few images I was able to find online. Too often the retail space fronting the street has been wrapped in a layer of “modern” material, leaving the original architecture oddly sprouting from about the third floor level. Here’s hoping future tenants can be found who will have a business reason for preserving and enhancing the richness of the original style.

    1. Yes, many classic old downtowns have been ruined by ill-conceived modernist facelifts in the 60s and 70s.

      Austin has their share, but this building seems to have survived mostly intact.

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