Suburban Projects are Going to Do Badly In Future

R. Scott Ziegler (pictured), AIA, is one of the founding principals of Ziegler Cooper Architects. Ziegler is involved in all phases of work on every project. With a strong belief in modern architecture Ziegler endeavors to explore a building’s limits. Ziegler’s management experience encompasses high-rise condominiums, high- and low-rise office buildings, retail facilities, educational institutions and corporate interiors. Ziegler talks to MHN Online News editor Anuradha Kher about the Austonian, which is set to be the tallest building West of the Mississipp,i and about urban development. MHN: What is special about the Austonian?Ziegler: Upon completion in 2010, The Austonian will be the tallest residential building West of the Mississippi. With 56 stories the building will stand 683 ft. tall. The aspect ratio is 8:1, which is the slimmest a building can get without compromising its structural soundness. The owner wanted the residents to get used to living without their backyards. In lieu of that, the building features a lawn on the 10th floor including an exquisitely landscaped outdoor urban garden with a green roof, 75-ft. pool, hot tub, cabanas with HD TVs, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, herb gardens, sundeck and dog park.MHN: What are the trends you are seeing in the Austin, Texas market?Ziegler: Austin is on a sweet curve when it comes to adopting public transport and urban living. There is a little bit of resistance but in recent years there has been a great deal of high-density building development the city. Of course, Texas is lagging behind the East and West coasts, but they are playing catch-up. Houston and Dallas have some high-density urban development and public transportation. MHN: Can you talk about the design trends in the Texas market?Ziegler: Micro villages are very much the talk in urban development. The idea of walkable communities is something that people really like. In many cases, there are urban developments, but people still need their cars. At least the trend is going there.MHN: How has the downturn affected the Texas market?Ziegler: Is there a downturn in Texas? I think the state has held up pretty well compared to other places. Unemployment-wise, we are in a much better state—in the range of 5.8 percent. We did not have massive foreclosures either. Of course, new construction has pretty much shut down due to the capital markets. But the state enjoyed quite a bit of job growth before the downturn began as a result of getting into the recession with some amount of back wind. We are definitely not in dire straits as a result.MHN: But there has to some impact?Ziegler: Yes, our firm had many clients who were poised to launch but because of the credit squeeze couldn’t find financing. They are now scrambling to get some money but will just have to get more equity to get the deals going. MHN: What can you expect in terms of housing development in the near-term?Ziegler: Location is going to be key. Suburban projects are going to do badly.(To view a photo gallery of the Austonian, click here)