Itinerant urbanist asks, “Austin, now what?”

She was not impressed. Karrie Jacobs, here in October to deliver a lecture at the UT College of Fine Arts, draws from her experience to write about Austin for Metropolis magazine (December issue, pages 34-38; link to story now on line).

Karrie Jacobs was visiting Austin for the first time in nearly a decade. She finds that Austin is, overall, the antithesis to her thesis that American cities are rediscovering the importance of architectural and civic beauty.

She loves the Capitol, has kind words to say about the new W Hotel, and calls the Frost Building “a study in the ways that attempted architectural beauty can go wrong.” The article abounds in strong opinions. Read it for yourself and find words for bicycle traffic, the running trail, South Congress (Austin’s “hipster main drag”), City Hall, rail to Leander but not to the airport, difficulty in finding an entrance for pedestrians at the downtown Whole Foods, and the City’s “Which Way, Austin?” effort. The summation? “Austin is an endearing mess” with “a conspicuous mismatch between the perceived values of the place the the physical environment.”

Update: Karrie Jacobs has now created a blog entry about her visit to Austin.

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