Elevating Austin through art + architecture

As architects, engineers, and designers, we are acutely aware of our influence on the growing cities in which we live. It is also clear to us that through the elevation of the design discourse and culture, we can enrich the quality of life in our communities. With that goal in mind, we created art + architecture, an evening in the garden that brought together allied professionals in a discussion about promoting design in everything we do.

A curtain of green leaves and the threat of rain provided the perfect backdrop at Austin’s UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum pavilion, designed by Page Senior Principal Larry Speck. Attendees raised funds to benefit both UMLAUF, where exhibitions are dedicated to the work of prolific Texas sculptor Charles Umlauf and work of contemporary artists, and Magnolia Montessori For All, Austin’s first public Montessori school.

More than 75 members of the design, developer, architecture and art communities in attendance participated in a structured discussion about how to influence the role that design will play in Austin’s future. Consistently ranked among fastest-growing cities in the U.S., Austin is seeing tremendous changes in civic infrastructure, commercial development and the nature of its residential structures. The evening’s discussions centered on taking advantage of the unprecedented opportunity to make Austin a mecca for design in addition to its established technology, music and food cultures. 

One of the evening’s hosts, Wendy Dunnam Tita, Page Principal and Interior Architecture Director explained: “We hope that the conversations we begin here will inspire others to connect the dots between multiple market sectors and the arts community. Together we will be more effective at shaping our urban fabric, supporting the richness of our creative culture and implementing the broader strategic planning goals of the City.”

The evening began with a cocktail hour in the garden and an explanation of the objective of the event before guests moved into the seated dinner. Each table was co-hosted by a prominent local artist and by a Page leader. Guests engaged in discussion topics focused on the importance of the integration of art and architecture in Austin and how to elevate it to the forefront of project considerations. Artists in attendance included longtime Page collaborator Margo Sawyer, Jennifer Prichard, Philippe Klinefelter, Laurie Frick, Christopher St. Leger, Fidencio Duran, and John Christensen. Assistant Director of Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin’s public art program, Nisa Barger joined us as well. 

“The event was a rare opportunity for people from distinct professions to interact and discuss the significance of art and architecture,” said AIA Austin Executive Director Ingrid Spencer. “The conversations got me thinking about the intersection of the arts and the work that Magnolia Montessori For All is accomplishing. The discussion was lively and engaging, and the beauty of UMLAUF really set the stage to focus on the role of art in the community.”