The Independent is the tallest residential tower west of the Mississippi. Known in Austin as the Jenga Tower, The Independent sits along Shoal Creek in the heart of Austin’s growing downtown.
Studio Balcones’ design of the surrounding landscape serves as a hub of activity for hundreds of joggers, dog-walkers, commuters and tourists each day. The landscape design includes a 76,644 square foot plaza, rain gardens that collect and treat roof runoff, shaded paths along Shoal Creek, protected bicycle and pedestrian paths, and a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge on the northeast end of the site.
There are complex site constraints including, massive water and transmission lines, complex transportation routes, and requirements for fire and crane access. Despite this, the design solution embraces and navigated these challenges through thoughtful circulation, diverse plantings for a dramatic range of conditions, and precise grading to meet existing grades – ultimately creating a safe and connected cityscape. Heritage Pecan and Live Oak trees were protected and enhanced through a bridged paving condition and the removal of concrete. Silva-Cells – a suspended pavement system that ensures less compaction and more long-term infiltration – were used along the streetscape to give new tree root systems adequate room to grow. The Independent Plaza serves as a safe and attractive junction between two growing downtown districts, offering the public an attractive outdoor space to recreate or simply enjoy a peaceful walk along Shoal Creek.