Kirk Watson

Kirk Watson

Watch Watson in conversation with Evan Taniguchi, AIA, as he accepts the inaugural Alan Yamato Taniguchi Award for Public Architecture.

A message from Melba Whatley, Hon. TxA

It’s a terrible thing that we had to wait until Senator Watson decamped from Austin to give him this award. Not our fault. No one was more in demand in this city than its former Mayor and Senator. In case we’ve all forgotten, he was reelected mayor by a whopping 84%.  

Even though we have lost him to Houston, he needs to hear how much his aura can still be felt and seen around this city—and always will.   

Kirk first celebrated our downtown as the “living room” of the city.  And he created that living room with the vibrancy we all feel as we walk down Second Street to Lake|Flato’s library, drop onto the shaded benches of the Great Streets program, and duck into Antoine Predock’s City Hall. Under Kirk’s leadership all these vital contributions to public life took root in Austin and continue today with cranes and projects coming on line all over downtown. 

Recognized nationally for his early understanding of the creative class culture, Kirk took what has always made Austin special and turned it into a formidable economic development engine built on great design, tolerance, green space, and local weirdness.  

A former city employee of 30 years told me recently, “Mayor Watson always told us the city needs to put its money where its mouth is.” That is exactly what he did.  

And in doing so, he created the Austin we know today.