Frost Bank Tower

Frost Bank Tower Austinundefined

Architectural Austin/Frost Bank Tower
Austin History Center
Written By Austin History Center

The Austin History Center's mission is to procure, preserve, present and provide the historical records that make up Austin's unique story.

was once the tallest

Throughout the history of skyscrapers, "tallest" buildings don't remain the tallest for long. When the 515-foot Frost Bank Tower was dedicated, it was the tallest building in Austin. In 2017, the luxury residence building, The Austonian came in at 683 feet tall to steal the coveted tallest building spot. The Frost Bank Tower does, however, have the tallest logo in the city at 420 feet (a bit more on the logo later). The Frost Bank Tower was also the first skyscraper built after the September 11th disaster. Construction began November 27, 2001, and took two years to complete. The building was dedicated in 2004, a year after its completion.

The Frost Bank Tower is a 525,000 square-foot office building that houses financial market giants Ernst and Young and Morgan Stanley in addition to Frost National Bank. The building was designed by Duda Paine Architects, LLP and HKS Inc. The architects wanted to add a distinguishing feature to the Austin skyline, and the multi-tiered glass crown does just that. Its forward-thinking design gives a modern and artistic look to what could otherwise be just another pretty glass skyscraper. Take a good look at it. Can you see an owl? Locals swear it resembles one, with the Frost National Bank logo acting as the eyes.


As far as sustainability, it's a LEED Gold Certified building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It's a globally recognized green building rating system. It's estimated that LEED-certified buildings will contribute $28.9 million to the country's GDP by 2018. Gold is the second highest certification awarded to buildings that earn 60-79 points in the rating system. Platinum is the top rating reserved for buildings that rank 80+ points. The LEED system inspires design teams to seek innovative solutions that support public and environmental health, saving the project millions over the years.

what's with that blue glass?

The Frost Bank Tower and the Reuters Building in New York City share the distinction of being the only buildings in the world with their distinctive blue glass. It's called blue Low-E glass skin. Low-E glass is an alternative to tinted glass. Prior to the advent of Low-E glass, architects had to rely on tints, which absorb solar energy and leave buildings vulnerable to deterioration. Tinted glass buildings require treatments to prevent cracking and other defects. Low-E glass, on the other hand, reflects solar energy, often precluding the need for any heat protection treatments, and the glass tends to have a lower light reflection than glass that has been tinted.

lighting design

Often a building's beauty is best admired at night when it's all lit up. Lighting adds to the character and highlights key architectural elements. The tower's lighting designer, Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, Inc, won an award for the accent lights that showcase the mullions at the building's top and the custom sconces that frame the opening of the lobby. A mullion is the vertical element that divides windows, doors or screens.

Cover Photo by HanFsolo via Wikimedia Commons

Architectural Austin

Frost Bank Tower

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