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The Independent: Innovative and Economic Design for an Iconic Structure

What we’re doing is not just building a building, but we’re building a neighborhood in the sky.”

At 63 stories tall, The Independent is the tallest concrete residential structure west of the Mississippi River. The 960,000-sf high-rise includes retail (13,500-sf), eight levels of parking (728 stalls), two amenity levels, an infinity swimming pool on Level 9 and over 360 residences. The Independent was a joint venture between Frank Lam & Associates and DCI Engineers—a combined structural design effort that bolstered the building’s rectilinear shape and honored the project’s architectural vision.

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Location:
Austin, Texas
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Square Feet:
660,000
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Stories:
63
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Service:
Structural
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Industries:
Commercial, High Rise / Performance Based Design, Multi-Family Residential
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Primary Material:
Concrete, Steel

Challenges
The Independent’s tall height combined with the area’s wind patterns meant the structure was susceptible to large wind gusts, affecting occupant comfort. Determining how to effectively fit 14,000-sf into an 8,000-sf floor plate in order to maintain a single unified amenity level.

Solutions
Perimeter columns, which are part of the outrigger truss system, were used not only for the gravity system, but also as part of the lateral system. This allowed for a smaller core wall thickness, which saved a significant amount of rentable area for the owner. To attain the single unified amenity level, the team integrated a cantilevered steel framed truss supported by the perimeter columns, extending the floor plate and creating the needed space and an iconic feature to the structure. Framing it with steel, the team was able to separate construction sequence from the tower and avoid costly delays that could otherwise be created by a single unique level.*Finally, LAM+DCI maintained the integrity of the building’s lateral system while limiting the size of the core and maximizing rentable space. *The high-rise is supported by a basic grid of corner columns and mega columns, plus exposed tension rods supporting extended cantilevers. The single linked central concrete core layout creates an extra 95-sf of rentable space on each of the residential floors—a total of 4,500-sf of extra revenue-generating space.

“Rhode Partners has had a very successful alliance with DCI Engineers since 2012. Together we have designed several significant projects, including The Independent. DCI is collaborative, responsive and detail oriented. They are well versed in various systems…which is a big advantage when we are looking at options.”
- Brett Rhode (Director of Rhode Partners)

Project Highlights

  • The 660,000-sf mixed-use project includes 363 residential units, 20,000-sf of amenity space, 13,500-sf of retail, and 728 parking spaces on eight levels.
  • Level 9 includes a cantilevered infinity edge swimming pool.
  • Resident comfort during high-wind events was a central design goal. A pre-fabricated fiberglass fire suppression tank on Level 62 performs as a tuned liquid damper tank, cutting down on accelerations from large gusts of wind.
  • The building’s unique architectural design features multiple cantilevered floor plates that resemble unevenly stacked blocks. LAM+DCI configured the steel-framed bracing for a large mechanical wind screen on the roof level to also act as an outrigger, providing additional stiffness to the building’s core without significant added cost or materials.

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