“Austin” by Ellsworth Kelly

2020 | Civic/Assembly | National Award of Merit
Austin, Texas

Design-Build Team Summary

Photo Credit: Overland Partners

Artist Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” is a culmination of Kelly’s oeuvre (artwork) and is the grandest exploration of pure color and form in his long career. Because of the significance of this commissioned piece of art and the need for an endowment to ensure proper maintenance, the client raised $23 million and allocated $10 million for construction. Composed of Spanish Limestone, the building consists of a 3,000 SF barrel vaulted space with exterior art glass panels. The interior walls provide the backdrop for Kelly’s abstract interpretations of the 14 Stations of the Cross and one of his custom totem wood pieces marks the semicircular apse space.

Austin serves as a place of refuge for the community and mecca for art patrons. The last signed work of Ellsworth Kelly, the unique shape of the building required documentation at every stage of the project for the artist to approve during an extended preconstruction phase, resulting in more than 150 sheets and multiple 3D models, renderings, and mock-ups. The challenge became the balance between building a structure that was safe for inhabitants and meeting the exacting tolerances required by the artist.

Design-Build Collaboration at Work

The Linbeck+Overland team’s approach to this project was steeped in collaboration. The architectural design process was based on capturing Kelly’s vision and understanding his intent. Successfully implementing this and achieving a museum-level of quality construction became a critical strategic endeavor. Design-build procurement allowed for optimal collaboration between team members at every stage of the project. A prolonged preconstruction process was required to ensure the construction would be exactly as the artist intended for Kelly to “sign” off as one of his artworks. The key challenge here required the team to collaboratively define a process whereby every aspect of the project would be documented and approved by the artist prior to construction beginning. Working together, Linbeck+Overland documented every detail of Kelly’s intent, which concluded in a successful project delivered as the official last work of art produced by Kelly.

Design-Build Team

Client/Owner:Owner’s Project Management Group: The University of Texas at Austin Office of Capital Projects
Design-Build Firm:Linbeck Group, LLC
Architect:Overland Partners
Specialty Contractors:Chamberlin Austin, LLC
Construction Duration:19 Months
Project Cost:$10,649,241.00