Michael Hsu utilises soft shapes for Austin skyscraper interiors

US studio Michael Hsu Office of Architecture has designed the common areas and amenity spaces for a residential skyscraper in Austin, Texas, which include a circular outdoor swimming pool.

The 51-storey 44 East Avenue development on the city’s riverfront was designed by Page Architects, and includes 330 condominiums and a variety of shared amenities for residents.

Lounge area in front of glazed atrium
The ground-floor lobby of 44 East Avenue includes a glazed atrium that divides the space

Local studio Michael Hsu Office of Architecture took an organic approach when designing the communal spaces, introducing soft shapes and natural materials to the glass and concrete structure.

“44 East combines nature and design with the idea of home,” said studio founder Michael Hsu. “It’s an unexpected expression of what beautiful, livable, modern spaces can be.”

Dark green sofa, pale pink rug and wooden coffee table
Michael Hsu Office of Architecture has layered a variety of vintage and custom furniture in the lobby

The bright lobby features light colours, curved surfaces, and a blend of hard and soft materials.

Poured concrete terrazzo floors are intended to echo the gravel of the nearby riverside trail, while plaster ceilings are subtly smooth-edged to mimic the undersides of boats.

Rounded mint-green reception desk in front of white tambour wall
A rounded mint-green reception desk sits in front of a white tambour wall

A glazed atrium with curved corners divides the ground floor and brings the landscaping by DWG further into the building.

Lounges on either side are furnished with a mix of vintage and contemporary pieces, which add colour and texture.

Bright lounge space with a variety of seating areas
On the 11th floor, spaces feature pastel tones to match the interiors of the residences

The reception desk has rounded edges and sides, and a glossy mint-green finish. It sits on a chrome base that matches a custom pendant light over a nearby seating area.

“[The communal areas are] a completely designed experience, one that allows for a multitude of ways of living,” Hsu said. “It represents creativity and design without pretension.”

Circular swimming pool with loungers and seating around the perimeter
A circular outdoor swimming pool has loungers and pebble-shaped islands at its shallow ends

On the 11th floor, a series of spaces are oriented towards views of the Colorado River and the leafy neighbourhoods to the south.

A circular outdoor swimming pool features loungers dipped into the shallow water and a series of pebble-shaped islands.

Covered patio with a tree growing through a hole in the canopy
A tree grows through a hole in the canopy that covers a patio area for grilling

Adjacent is a partially covered patio for barbecuing and dining al fresco, oriented around a planter with a tree that grows up through a hole in the slatted canopy.

Indoor spaces on this level are decorated in pastel hues to match those found in the residences, which were designed by Page.

Further amenity areas on the 37th floor feature jewel tones and darker materials, such as the stone flooring, as well as fixtures including a large moon-like pendant light above a circular sofa.

“We hope that this space feels both fresh and welcoming, a place that has new moments to discover, but that is comfortable and familiar,” said Hsu. “Design here is part of the resident’s everyday experience, rather than reserved for a special occasion.”

Lounge with dark furniture and a view of the Austin skyline
Another lounge on the 37th floor has darker decor and a view of the Austin skyline

Austin continues to grow as a desirable place to live and work, and has seen a boom in development across residential, commercial and hospitality sectors as a result.

Plans for a supertall skyscraper in the city were unveiled in November 2022, although cut back significantly six months later, leaving another supertall by KPF in the running to become Texas’ tallest building.

Exterior view of 44 East Avenue with the Colorado River and Austin skyline behind
44 East Avenue is located beside the Colorado River, east of Downtown Austin

Meanwhile, a concrete office complex, a sculptural tower, and a technologically advanced sports arena have all been completed in Austin over the past year.

Michael Hsu Office of Architecture has also wrapped up a string of projects in its home state, from converting a 1930s Austin church into a design office to designing a cosy Japanese restaurant in Houston.

The photography is by Chase Daniel.

Project credits:

Common areas/amenity spaces: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
Home interiors: Page
Landscape architect: DWG
Developer: Intracorp
Pre-construction: Flintco
Civil engineering: WGI

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