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Renovations to Texas Capitol and mall create a ‘new civic space’

Monday, July 11, 2022 by Katy Kindley

Finishing touches are being done on the first phase of the Texas Capitol Complex renovation, which is expected to be completed this fall.

The 2016 Capitol Complex Master Plan governs the redesign of the Texas Capitol by expanding state offices to newly constructed buildings while creating larger spaces for civic involvement. 

The master plan has three phases; phase one, which is currently underway, involves the construction of two new state office buildings, a central utility plant, an underground parking garage for state employees, and the heavily anticipated Texas Capitol Mall.

When complete, the 3.5-acre mall will stretch from 11th Street to 26th Street, providing easy accessibility from the Capitol grounds to the museum district and the University of Texas and allowing pedestrians to avoid the hustle and bustle of traffic on busy days. The mall will feature tree-lined pathways, an amphitheater and a large lawn for staged events, as well as electric bike charging stations, public art and a pocket park. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has been involved in the excavation portion of the project to ensure that native plants are included in the landscaping of the mall.

The transformation plan allows for “the consolidation of state agencies into state-owned building, reducing the dependence of commercial leases and saving millions in annual lease expenses,” Francoise Luca, a spokesperson for the Texas Facilities Commission, told the Austin Monitor. 

Phase two of the project will see the continued construction of the new state office buildings as well as more underground parking. Following the completion of the first two phases, the third phase will launch, making other improvements, expansions and changes to the complex.

The Texas Facilities Commission has worked for over five years on the project. Planning began in 2016 and construction to make the complex a reality began in 2018. First came the excavation of three city blocks, followed by the relocation of Capitol campus utilities. Next was the construction of the Central Utility Plant for water provisions. The construction of the two new state office buildings came next – the George H.W. Bush Building and the Barbara Jordan Building – and the final step was the Capitol Mall and the underground garage. 

The teams also coordinated with neighboring businesses to ensure disturbances from construction were kept at a minimum. 

Luca told the Monitor that the Texas Facilities Commission hopes “all Texans are proud of this new civic space as they visit the Texas State Capitol for business or pleasure. We also see this project as an investment in the future of state government and our employees.”

Find more information on the project here.  

Rendering of the completed project courtesy of the Texas Facilities Commission.

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