UT Tower Celebrates it’s 77th Anniversary

One of the buildings that has defined the Austin skyline, the University of Texas main building (the Tower) is turning 77 this year.   The 307-foot tall UT Austin Tower, designed by Paul Cret of Philadelphia, was completed in 1937.  The tower replaced the beloved old Victorian Gothic Main Building.  The old main building was razed in 1934 despite the objections of many students and staff.   All that remains of the Old Main Building are its old carillon bells (called the “Burleson Bells”, which are now exhibited outside Bass Concert Hall.

UT Tower History

UT National Championship Tower

UT National Championship Tower

Tower Lighting

While the tower usually appears illuminated in white light in the evening, it is lit in various color schemes for special occasions–warm orange light to announce honors and victories, and crowned in fireworks at spring commencement ceremonies.

Carl J. Eckhardt Jr, head of the Physical Plant in 1931, supervised construction of the building of the campus landmark.  Eckhardt devised the tower lighting system to take advantage of the iconic building to announce university achievements.   Eckhardt’s orange lights first flooded the tower in 1937. In 1947, he helped create guidelines for using the orange lights.

A number “1” on all sides highlighted by orange lights signals that the university won a national championship.  The full Tower glowing orange alone represents a victory over Texas A&M University, Commencement and other occasions the president deems appropriate. The Tower top bathed in orange symbolizes other victories or a conference title in any intercollegiate sport.

Tower Lighting Configurations

The Tower Bells

The sounds of the tower carillon are part of the UT community’s everyday experience.    Every 15 minutes, you can hear the pealing of the bells, and on the hour, you hear the largest bell across campus.

A carillon is a set of at least 23 fixed, chromatically tuned bells sounded by clappers controlled by a keyboard and foot pedals. The design of the new Main Building’s belfry allowed for thirty-nine bells, but in 1937 the university could only afford to buy 16; Lutcher Stark, a member of the Board of Regents, donated the 17th bell. However, UT still did not have a full carillon, which posed a problem for carillonneurs. Not having all the notes available limited the number of songs the carillonneurs were able to play.

In 1985, Ms. Hedwig Thusnelda Kniker bequeathed money to buy 22 more bells for the carillon as well as the console and installation. However, the C# and B bells would not fit in the elevators. As a result, The University decided to put additional bells in the upper register, acquiring 39 instead of 22. The Kniker Carillon is 56 bells, making it the largest in Texasboth in terms of tonnage and weight.

The University of Texas Guild of Carillonneurs is the student organization responsible for ringing the bells in the Main Building Tower.  Did you know you can request a song to be played on the Kniker Carillon by sending an email to texascarrilon@gmail.com.

Information about the Kniker Carillon

UT Tower Tours

45 minute tours of the Tower are available for a cost of $6 but it is best to book ahead.  Reserve a ticket by either stopping by the Texas Union Hospitality Center at 24th and Guadalupe, or by calling (512) 475-6636.  Group tours are available for groups up to 25 people.  Make sure your check on restrictions (e.g. no bags, no pocket knives, etc.)

Additional Tower Tour Information

Go fly a kite at Zilker Kite Festival

Austin Kite Festival

Austin Kite Festival

Spring is in the air and one of Austin’s favorite spring events is scheduled for the weekend.  Everyone is welcome (even pets) to come fly their favorite kite at Zilker Park.     The nations oldest continuous kite festival is at Zilker Park this Sunday, March 2, 2014 (as predicted delayed to March 9, 2014 due to rain).    The kite festival was started in 1929 by The Exchange Club to help foster creativity in children.

Parking is extremely limited for this popular event so please plan on taking the shuttle bus.

The festival is presented each year by the Exchange Club of Austin, an all-volunteer  organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Exchange is a group of people working to make America a better place to live through one national project, the Prevention of Child Abuse, and other community service projects.

E-Learning Symposium 2009 – Doing More with Less

I spend my days trying to figure out how to improve the productivity of the most valuable part of any organization–it’s people.  I’m excited that we’re having a conference for like minded folks in Austin–usually I get to get on a plane and travel to these conferences.  The elearning Symposium 2009 is on June 4, 2009 at the Holiday Inn, Northwest in Austin.  Speakers include Jim Moshinskie from Baylor, Dr. McDonald from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Tonia Dousay from Texas A&M, Hiram Kuykendall, Debby Kalk, and John Gillis.  Dr. McDonald’s Pulse!! program is one of the most sophisticated e-learning programs in the world–a must see.

The symposium will focus on helping you create cost-effective e-learning programs that help make your folks more productive.  So if you’re an instructional designer, trainer, or just someone your boss is bugging about implementing learning programs.  Register early because there’s a significant early bird discount–and quite honestly this conference is likely to sell out.

More information about the conference is available at www.elearningcouncil.com

Austin’s Deep Nasta, President of the Audience Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Local Realtor, AroundAustin.com contributor, and philanthropist was elected President of the Audience on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon by a unanimous vote.   Some, in the Twitterverse call him the best audience participant ever on the show.   Leave it to Deep to be in New York for a month and end up on a national TV show.  Don’t y’all think Mr. President should talk to Jimmy about bringing the show to Austin?  Sounds like a issue that Mr. Leffingwell and Mr. McCracken can get behind.

Trish Morrison has started a Facebook group to extend the silliness ummm I mean the reign…sheesh.

P.S. Deep didn’t get to keep the dog.

eLearning Symposium 2008, Austin, Texas

I spend my days trying to figure out how to improve the productivity of the most valuable part of any organization–it’s people.  I’m excited that we’re having a conference for like minded folks in Austin–usually I get to get on a plane and travel to these conferences.  The elearning Symposium 2008 is on April 23, 2008 at the Doubletree Hotel in Austin.  Speakers include Debby Kalk, Hiram Kuykendall, Hank Jones (yeah he’s a lawyer but he’s also a heckuva musician and a great speaker), and Chris Justice.

The symposium will focus on helping you create cost-effective e-learning programs that help make your folks more productive.  So if you’re an instructional designer, trainer, or just someone your boss is bugging about implementing learning programs go to www.elearningsymposium.com to sign up.  You can save $100 if you do it by April 9th.

6th Annual Rod & Kustom Round Up

I spent a good deal of my time under the hood of cars when I was younger.  Some of this was because I enjoyed it, some of it was because I just couldn’t afford to take the car in to the mechanic.  From checking the oil to replacing the head gasket and the clutch…I somehow managed to fix it with dad’s help.  The car I’m driving now…well you can’t even get to the engine.  Honestly, it isn’t under the hood…and I’m pretty sure it isn’t in the trunk.  Heck if I know where they put the darn thing.

The Sixth Annual Lonestar Roundup was held at the Travis County Expo center this weekend.  They had acres of cars that came from the day (pre-1963) when you could pop the hood and identify the parts–spark plugs, carburetors, distributor caps, all there.  The sounds…oh the sound….the deep throaty rumble that shakes your bones.  The cars were beautifully restored mechanically and cosmetically by their owners.  The paint jobs on the cars were amazing–beautifully polished to a glistening red, an insane joker painted on the hood, a rat painted in the engine compartment.

All this combined with perfect weather, good food (grilled alligator anyone?), great music, and even a wedding made for a memorable afternoon.  The only thing we did wrong….didn’t allow for enough time.  Next year, I’ll make sure I can spend all afternoon…and bring a hat.

Pictures from the event are at Tejas Photos.  More information is available at www. lonestarroundup.com.


Wow what a night – Austin Under 40 Awards

Michelle VallesI spent the evening at the Austin Under 40 Awards sponsored by Deep in the Heart of Texas–What an extraordinary night!   The Austin Under 40 Awards recognizes Austin men and women under 40 who have achieved extraordinary professional success and also perform outstanding community service.

KXAN’s Michelle Valles and co-host Cliff Redd did a brilliant job emceeing the event.  My friends Corey Bell from Trifusion, Jeff Turk from Formaspace, and Rob Johnson, Chief of Staff at the Lieutenant Governor’s office were all nominated.  Not only did Corey win the Business award he won the night’s top honor–Austinite of the Year.  Awesome!

The event raises money for Sunshine Camps–a camp for underprivileged kids.  One of the methods used is a silent auction.  AroundAustin donated a picture.  It was thrilling to see a high bid of $400 on the picture.  Cool huh.

To get more information about the event go to http://www.austinunder40.org/

We don’t ever have a White Christmas

We don’t ever have a White Christmas in Austin, instead we have to rely on other things to get in the holiday spirit in Austin.  Some of the things that get me in the holiday spirit in Austin are:

  • The Papa Noel Christmas Tree Vendors popping up around town.  It’s one of the first reminders that the Holidays are just around the corner.
  • The release of the KGSR CD.  The KGSR CD is a collection of live, in-studio music recorded Septemeber to September focused on Austin Music.  It’s a favorite Christmas gift and it benefits a worthwhile charity–the SIMS foundation which offers low-cost mental health care for Austin musicians.
  • Lights, Lights, Lights – From the lights on The Capitol Christmas tree (and the decorations on Congress), to the wacky and wierd lights on 38th street and of course the Zilker Park Christmas tree–this is a surefire way to get in the mood.
  • If all of this hasn’t managed to get me in the mood, going to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar with my wife surely does the trick.  It’s open 11 a.m. to 11 a.m. through Christmas Eve (and yes I’ve bought gifts on Christmas Eve).  The show features gifts from artists and craftspeople and best of all Live Music.
  • The holiday cookie selection on La Michocana on South First–spectacular–and don’t forget to pick up a few homemade tortillas made fresh.
  • Ballet Austin’s Nutcracker with local celebrities making cameo experiences as Mother Ginger.
  • Performances at Zachary Scott Theatre including Martin Burke in The Santaland Diaries, and of course, Rockin Christmas Party!
  • The ice rink on top of the flagship Whole Foods store.

Whew!  That’s a busy schedule. 

Nature Nurture: The Zilker Bluffs Tree Planting Project

The rarely disputed “Jewel of Austin”, the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, is getting just what it deserves—more trees.

In a massive effort to improve one of the most heavily used sections of the Trail—the area on the south side of the lake just east of the MoPac Bridge and Roberta Crenshaw Pedestrian Bridge—this currently sparse and exposed stretch will benefit from instant shading.

Town Lake Trail Foundation’s fledgling program, has already sold 39 trees to both individuals and corporations. Putting money behind green ideologies, the most expensive ones went first. Currently, 74 additional trees are available for “adoption.”

Check it out, www.townlaketrail.org ….adopt a tree in someone’s name today!

Photo copyrighted by Catherine McMillan

Art 4 Change Art Show

Please mark your calendars for the Art4Change Art and Music Show coming up this Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. at the Parish on 6th st to benefit the Miracle Foundation–an awesome charity run by my friend Caroline Boudreaux.

It’s going to be a really cool event with local Austin artists William Stidham, Josh Williams, Sebastian Pfeiffer, and Richie Deegan showcasing their artwork along with live music by Jim Scarborough, Showdy, D.J. Polecat, and appetizers provided by Jazz.  Our precious orphans’ artwork will be available for purchase, and William Stidham is donating a painting to raffle off.  Just bring a $10 donation for the door!

The best part is that all proceeds will go to The Miracle Foundation in order to help us raise money for orphans.

More information at The Miracle Foundation website

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