Solar helps make this cool Austin tower net energy neutral
Austin’s iconic skyscraper The Independent designed by Rhode Partners has just achieved LEED Gold status and won the 2022 Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Award of Excellence as the Best Tall Building — Residential. This net energy neutral project is the only one in Texas to receive the award.
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The Independent has 58 stories of family residential space and is the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi. The tower features a central circulation core combined with four cantilevered sections supported by exposed structural elements. This creates expansive city views and allows for flexible and spacious interiors. The tower has 20,000 square feet of amenities and is net energy neutral for most of the year. Additionally, the 75kW solar power system and rainwater collection generate on-site power and water for the building.
CTBUH’s Awards program recognizes projects that have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of tall buildings and urban environments, representing the best innovations in the typology. In October, the CTBUH International Conference in Chicago will hold an awards ceremony. Here, The Independent will also compete for the title of “Overall Category Winner.”
Rhode Partners founder Brett Rhode said of The Independent, “This building reflects Austin’s amazing creative spirit. It is a locally designed building with a much larger story to tell.”
Residential tiers are pushed and pulled to cantilever four distinct blocks that make up The Independent tower. “This dynamic form is achieved by sliding and mirroring floor plates from a central core,” the designers explain. “The mirroring of the floor plates resulted from the owner’s programmatic requirements to provide a diversity of unit orientations with the same floor plan.”
At the top of the building, woven stainless-steel mesh wraps around the building’s mechanical systems, including a massive liquid damper tank that limits the sway of the 58-story structure in high-altitude winds.
The Independent has already received over a dozen awards, including an AIA Austin Design Award of Merit, DNA Paris Design Awards’ 2021 Architecture Big Scale Building Award, the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s 2021 Interior Design Award of Excellence, and The Chicago Athenaeum’s 2021 International Architecture Award.