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Austin's Tallest Building Is, Um, Controversial. Starting Tonight It Will Look A Little Different.

The top of the Independent in downtown Austin, as seen during the day.
Luis Perales for KUT
The top of the Independent in downtown Austin, as seen during the day.

The top of the Independent (the Jenga tower, to many) has been the subject of debate since it was finished last year. Tonight, though, the building near the corner of West Avenue and Third Street will look a little different. 

The Independent, a condo building in downtown Austin near the corner of West Ave. and 3rd St.
Credit Richie Loria for KUT
The Independent, a condo building near the corner of West Avenue and Third Street, is the city's tallest structure.

Lights on the building's "crown" will turn on, bathing the top of the structure in a warm white glow.

The change was first reported by James Rambin at the Austin Towers blog.

“At dusk tonight, The Independent’s crown will feature its inaugural lighting, and likely become one of the most noticeable additions from the public’s view of the tower," the building's co-developer, Aspen Heights, said in an email.

The crown of this building has certainly been a noticeable addition to Austin's skyline. We reported last year on the controversy (and I use that term loosely). Some folks say the top gives the building an unfinished look — or that it's just straight-up ugly. Others are more supportive.

The skyscraper is designed the way it is, in part, to limit its sway in windy conditions. The fence-looking thing at the top conceals a large water tank that offsets the building's movement.

The owners have been testing the system off and on for a little while now, but starting tonight the lights will come on every evening, triggered by sensors that detect when the sun is setting.

By the looks of the Instagram posts from the company working on the lighting, we could see some more dramatic light displays in the future — not just vanilla white.

        View this post on Instagram                   We are excited to announce that Light Support is the programming and aiming consultant for the The Independent's crown lighting! We are working with the talented team at @ion_art_atx to bring a bit more illumination to the Austin skyline! Here are some photos from a recent test. #lightingcontrols #lightingdesign #colorkinetics #architecturallighting #austintx @theindependentaustin @colorkinetics @signify_press A post shared by Light Support (@lightsupportservices) on Jan 13, 2020 at 9:08am PST

Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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