Plans for the plaza of a new mixed-use Mueller project that will highlight a historic piece Austin architecture are coming into focus.

The new residential complex being developed by Ryan Companies will have two three- to five-story buildings and a central public paseo that will provide framing and context to one of the site's noticeable historic features: the old Mueller Control Tower, a classic piece of midcentury municipal design by Austin architectural heavyweights Fehr & Granger. The tower is one of the three original airport structures the city and Mueller developer Catellus agreed would be targeted for historic preservation in their redevelopment agreement for the property

Austin landscape architecture firm Studio Balcones will design Tower Plaza, the public space to be created around the historic landmark and has refining options in recent months. Company principal Ilse Frank presented the firm's latest plan — the "flight path" option — at a recent meeting of a city Historic Landmark Commission subcommittee meeting. That plan features open lawns, a pedestrian ramp with observation platforms, and a new paseo with tower views from the northeast between the apartment complexes Ryan plans for the site.

The plan would include a pedestrian crossing between the two sloped lawns on each side of the old tower. A 21-foot-high public deck that matches the height of the original airport terminal will provide sightline similar to those once provided by that building.

Frank said she expects the plaza to be complete and open in time for the launch of the Ryan development in late 2023. That project will offer 2,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space at the corner of Berkman Drive and McCurdy Street, adjacent to the new plaza. In addition, there will be 350 new residential units, 15 percent of which will be reserved for Mueller’s Affordable Homes Program, available to households earning up to 60 percent of the Austin area’s median family income.

The development will be built on several now-vacant lots in an area bound by Berkman Drive and Sorin, Vaughan, and McCurdy streets. It will neighbor a mixed-use complex that includes the Wildflower Terrace apartments.

Studio Balcones' plan for Tower Plaza at MuellerStudio Balcones