Austin’s Fairmont unveils $6 million pedestrian bridge plan


The developer of the Fairmont hotel in downtown Austin unveiled the design of a $6 million pedestrian bridge that will connect the hotel to the Austin Convention Center and that the developer says could spur continued revitalization along Waller Creek.

Doug Manchester, president of Manchester Texas Financial Group, released renderings of the 33-foot-tall elevated walkway — called the Red River Street Canopy Walk — to the American-Statesman on Tuesday. He plans to discuss the project at a Real Estate Council of Austin event Wednesday, where he and other panelists will provide updates on existing and proposed developments along Waller Creek.

The conceptual drawings depict an open-air, winding design for the bridge, which Manchester said will provide hotel guests and the public an aerial view of Waller Creek as they walk to and from the second level of the convention center.

Construction on underground infrastructure for the walkway recently began. Work on the more visible, above-ground connection is expected to start early next year and be completed in mid May.

A direct connection was essential for the Fairmont project to be built, to ensure hotel guests can safely get to the convention center across Red River Street, said Doug Manchester, president of Manchester Texas Financial Group, which is building the Fairmont at East Cesar Chavez and Red River streets.

The pedestrian bridge will be accessible to the public from street level. Fairmont guests will have a separate access point from the hotel.

Manchester said it agreed to increase the budget for the pedestrian bridge from $2.8 million to $6 million to ensure “an authentic architectural feature.”

For more than two years, Manchester worked with the Waller Creek Conservancy on a concept that would be compatible with the surrounding environment and the vision for the larger Waller Creek greenbelt.

The conservancy has created a master plan for a 1.5-mile stretch of the creek running through downtown Austin from Waterloo Park to Lady Bird Lake. That area will be removed from the 100-year floodplain once the $147 million Waller Creek flood-control tunnel project wraps up, opening up a 15-block swath of land for future uses ranging from parks and public spaces to private development.

The bridge is the first collaborative design effort along the creek between a private developer and the conservancy.

“As a result of our collaboration, we’re able to provide not only our hotel patrons but the community at large something to enjoy, admire and embrace,” Doug Manchester said. “And we certainly hope this sets a positive tone for future development all throughout Waller Creek.”

Tom Meredith, a founding member of the Waller Creek Conservancy, said the bridge’s winding pathway will provide the experience of “a walk in the wilderness.”

“Visitors will be able to safely navigate from conferences and events to trails and parks — all on foot within an urban environment,” Meredith said. “The Canopy Walk is destined to become the gateway to the creek for denizens of Austin and visitors far and wide.”

The bridge was designed by New York-based Thomas Phifer and Partners, who with Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates won the Waller Creek Conservancy’s international design competition.

Daniele Woodroffe, president and founder of dwg., the landscape architect for the bridge project, said it will be an integral part of the vision of the Waller Creek master plan.

“The ultimate goal is to celebrate what’s unique about a critical ecosystem that runs through the heart of downtown Austin,” Woodroffe said.

The $370 million Fairmont Austin is on track to open next summer. With 1,048 rooms, it will be the largest hotel in Austin and tourism and other officials expect it to help Austin attract additional convention center business and meet pent-up demand. Manchester Texas said the hotel is projected to generate upwards of $20 million in state and local taxes annually.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Visa joins other credit cards in getting rid of signature requirement
Visa joins other credit cards in getting rid of signature requirement

The days of signing the receipt after a credit card purchase are numbered. Visa, the largest U.S. credit card issuer, became the last of the major credit card companies to announce its plan to make signatures optional. Visa announced it will get rid of its signature requirement for cards with EMV chips starting in April. EMV — which stands for...
A sampling of then newest technologies being rolled out for consumers
A sampling of then newest technologies being rolled out for consumers

With 2.754 million square feet of showroom floor space just about everything imaginable was on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It’s an impossible task to see it all but here’s a sampling of new, useful products of the thousand or so I saw on display, ——— Hanwha Techwin America showed off the...
Wearables get smaller and smarter
Wearables get smaller and smarter

First there were fitness wearables. Then the focus turned to fashionable wearables. The latest evolution, seen throughout this year’s CES in Las Vegas: more functional, futuristic — and sometimes far-fetched — wearables. Wrist-worn wearables were a huge hit at the trade show four years ago, as tech makers showed off fitness trackers...
AI programs beat humans in a Stanford reading test
AI programs beat humans in a Stanford reading test

First, they beat us at chess. Then it was Go. Now it’s basic reading comprehension. The robots are coming. Two artificial intelligence programs created by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Microsoft beat humans on a Stanford University reading comprehension test, Alibaba said recently. Alibaba took the honors as creator of the first program...
‘Gorogoa’ is as much a work of art as it is a puzzle game
‘Gorogoa’ is as much a work of art as it is a puzzle game

Part of what makes a good puzzle game is the inevitable “ah-ha” moment, the sense of accomplishment you get as you fit all the pieces together. “Gorogoa” is replete with these satisfying moments, enhanced by gorgeous hand-drawn visuals that pull you into its surreal world. “Gorogoa” is a tile-based puzzle game developed...
More Stories