What is a “Capitol View Corridor” and why are these corridors so important to building development in Austin, Texas? Ever since the Texas State Capitol was created back in 1888, there has been a city initiative to protect and preserve the views of the Capitol from various viewpoints around the city. Capitol View Corridors are a series of legal restrictions on construction in Austin aimed at preserving the visibility of the Texas State Capitol. This is a common practice in many state capitols, and most strictly enforced in our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C..
In 1931, the city of Austin decided that no building within a particular zoning ordinance would exceed 200 ft. This rule would maintain views to the capitol building and emphasize it as one of Austin’s most important structures.
Over the years, however, the city flexed from time to time, allowing exceptions to this 200 ft rule as long as the buildings maintained a certain setback or stair-step effect that still allowed capitol views. If you look at some of our main corridors along Congress Avenue or Lamar, you will notice some of these unusually shaped buildings that had to make adjustments to maintain a clear capitol view. In response to the historical bending and flexing of the city rules, a state statue was passed in 1983 that established an official “Capitol View Corridor” in Austin, TX. All buildings built within this corridor would now undeniably have to follow state regulations.
If we count all the views protected by both the city and the state, there are 35 Capitol view corridors today. Some are just a few city blocks while others, are extremely long, like the corridor that goes out to the 360 bridge.
Today, as development is at a premium in downtown Austin, there has been much discussion if all 35 viewpoints of this capitol corridor still need to be protected today. What is your opinion? Do you think it is important that the city & state maintain a Capitol View Corridor? Should the Texas State Capitol remain the centerpiece of Austin’s skyline? As development pressure increases, time will only tell how many “exceptions” or “revisions” will be made to these state statutes in the future. But for now, enjoy those views of the dome and the goddess of liberty that you see from over this beautiful city.