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SPOTLIGHT REPORT

Architect Arthur Andersson defines Austin's sense of place

Photo: Takoma Washington Museum Photo: Bridge Photo: Fargo, N.D. Cathedral


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What do a museum in Takoma, Washington; a college campus in Kansas and a cathedral in Fargo, North Dakota have in common? The answer is an architect named Arthur Andersson who makes his home in Austin.

Photo: Main Hall at St. Edward's UniversityFor years Andersson has been one of Austin's top architectural exports but now he and his partner are becoming hot local commodities. The team designed the newest building on the St. Edward's University campus -- Trustee Hall.

The architect said it was a quandary at first to design a building on the St. Edward's campus. The Main Building has come to represent the spirit of St. Edwards and Andersson felt it would be difficult to create something that matched the craftsmanship of Main.

"For us to do the next building, it was a little bit like that quote that is attributed to Michelangelo when he saw the dome in Florence...Brunelleschi's dome, 'Better than me I cannot. As thee I will not'," said Andersson. "There was no way that we were going to build a building -- especially for our budget -- that is remotely like Main."

Photo: Trustee Hall at St. EdwardsBut Andersson's new building is just as unique. It addresses modern concerns such as energy efficiency while echoing some of the historical motif of the St. Edwards campus.

"There is a very broad sense of respect that people in Austin have for their place, " Andersson said. "Out of that respect grows a very deep sense of place and a longing to create environments that have a strong sense of place."

Andersson has studied Austinites view on "place" through several residential projects as well. He has taken on Austin projects including a lakeside home and boathouse.

Photo: Boat houseAndersson is quickly attracting a following for his style considered a study in simplicity and flexibility.

The architect, who chose to live here, said that he continues to study and reflect on what makes Austin, Austin.

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The piece on Arthur Anderrson was produced by Tom Spencer.

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