Dewitt C. Greer State Highway Building - Austin, Texas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Raven
N 30° 16.339 W 097° 44.412
14R E 621176 N 3349632
Quick Description: The Dewitt C. Greer State Highway Building was built in 1933 to house the Texas Department of Transportation, which it still does to this date. It is one of Austin's best examples of Art Deco architecture.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 4/17/2015 7:21:06 AM
Waymark Code: WMNQ5C
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 0

Long Description:
The Dewitt C. Greer" building is a 9-story steel-and-masonry structure built near Austin's Texas State Capitol back in 1933 to house the Texas Highway Department (now called the Texas Department of Transportation, or "TxDOT" for short).

Designed by San Antonio architect Carleton Adams at a cost of $455,000, the building features elaborate Art Deco styling, including decorative carved limestone panels above the front doors. As best described by the Texas Historical Commission's Atlas website:

"Rectangular in plan with a recessed central entry and corresponding inset on the rear, the 9-story State Highway Building is one of Austin's best examples of Art Deco architecture.

The building features cream-colored limestone exterior walls, polished pink granite skirting, cast stone spandrels and metal entry doors and canopies. A full basement is partially exposed on the east and south sides of the building, due to the south-sloping grade of the site. Despite the replacement of original sash windows with plate glass windows, the building retains a high degree of its historic and architectural integrity.

The State Highway Building rises from an H-plan base, to a penthouse-topped 8-story central rectangular block. A series of symmetrical setbacks gives the building its distinctive "shoulders." The massing of the building above the H-plan footprint of the first two floors consists of a 6-bay-wide central block, rising to the eighth floor, slightly set back from the central recessed entry. This central block has two-bay-wide setbacks to the height of the eighth floor; from the third to the seventh floor, the block is further augmented by another 2-bay-wide setback. This series of setbacks results in a fourteen-bay elevation to the seventh floor, and a 10-bay elevation on the eighth floor. The ninth floor consists of a penthouse, set back on all sides from the eighth floor roof. The building is capped with a flagpole at the center of the ninth floor roof. Side elevations contain eleven window bays on the first and second floors, seven window bays on the third through eighth floors, and three window bays on the ninth floor penthouse.

The principal elevation (north) contains a central, recessed two-story entry framed by two-story projecting wings, each four bays wide, with one window bay facing on the entry recess. The main entrance to the building consists of four single-leaf 9-foot tall hollow white-metal doors. The entrance features a granite landing and granite steps leading up from 11th Street. Above the entrance doors is a white-metal frieze containing flat paterae set in rectangular blocks and stylized floral ornaments in the Art Deco style. A white-metal and plate glass patterned transom rises above this ornamented door-head. Immediately above the transom are three cast metal bas-relief panels representing three stages of road-builders, signed "H. Villa, 1933." From left to right, the first depicts mounted Indians pulling long poles, the second depicts a covered wagon pulled by oxen, and the third, a 1930s automobile on a paved highway. Above the bas-relief panels is a cut stone sill, and three single-light metal casement windows. Crowning the entry is a cut limestone panel reading "State Highway Building" in intaglio, topped with a round metal state seal flanked by cut limestone volutes.

The entrance is flanked by 2-story engaged fluted limestone columns, each set on polished granite round plinth and chamfered base. Each column is capped with a free-standing stone stylized eagle, atop a stone band of Art Deco-styled floral motifs.

The building has four other entrances. At the basement level on the west elevation, the entrance consists of a metal door with a grille and 2-light glazing, with a stationary transom. This entrance is framed by a pink granite surround, which forms a part of the building's granite skirting. The south elevation has two entrances: one at basement level in the first (from east to west) bay of the recessed section, consisting of a metal two-panel door with single-light glazing; and a second entrance at the first floor level, consisting of a metal door with four-light glazing, topped with a two-light with a vertical mullion hinged transom. Both south entries have suspended metal canopies.

The projecting east entrance opens onto Brazos Street, and functions as the secondary entrance to the building. The east entrance is in the first (from north to south) bay of the central block, and consists of double-leaf metal doors with single-light glazing. On each side of the double-leaf unit is a single-light sidelight. Above the door and sidelights, a single-pane transom echoes the entrance configuration. The east entrance has a granite floor and step, and is framed with a polished granite surround to the height of the sidelights. A metal canopy is suspended between the transom and the doorway unit. A cut stone transom crown features square panels separated by pointed mullions. The entrance features polished granite skirting and fluted cut stone chamfering on the rounded exterior corners, and is topped with a cast stone parapet ornament with a floral motif. At the top of each corner of the projection is a lamp-shaped finial.

The first two floors of the north elevation contain stylized pilasters separating the window bays of the projecting wings. Cast stone spandrels with a stylized floral motif separate the first and second floor windows, which are topped by a cut stone lintel. The first two floors also feature a small cast stone parapet containing angular volutes.

From the third to the eighth floor, window bays are separated by streamlined cut stone pilasters. Each of the pilasters contains a double band of horizontal raised fillets. The pilasters which define the building's setbacks are wider than those separating the window bays. The ninth floor penthouse also contains stone pilasters between each window bay, which feature chamfered edges and a sloping top.

Window bays are separated by cast stone spandrels. Between the first and second floor, the spandrels contain a floral motif in intaglio; from between the third and fourth floor to between the sixth and seventh floor, the spandrels feature vertical rectilinear elements. Between the seventh and the eighth floor, the spandrels incorporate vertical elements of lower spandrels, but also feature double angular volutes. Each vertical window band is capped with a cast stone parapet spandrel, which features a floral motif topped with three vertical points. The penthouse windows contain cut stone sills. The windows are capped with cast stone parapet spandrels which feature pointed vertical shafts forming a series of four angular volutes. [...]".
Style: Art Deco

Structure Type: Government

Architect: Carleton Adams

Date Built: 1933

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Raven visited Dewitt C. Greer State Highway Building - Austin, Texas 11/9/2014 Raven visited it