My Austin Story

I’m a lucky Austinite insomuch as the movie Slacker is nonfiction for me: completing my UT Masters in Architecture degree took 6 years and 2 demo tapes, the second of which landed me a SXSW showcase in 1995. For those keeping score, there was also a spouse, a son, and our first fixer-upper (house 001) squeezed into those years.

Since, architecture happily claims a progressively larger portion of my life each year, while allowing exploratory detours (engineering, construction management & estimating, and hands–on carpentry) that gives me a fuller appreciation for the art and craft. My 40-year career started at a large firm, and through observing the shift in perspective at each stop along the way, I gained the confidence to work solo.

Forty years of clients, with architecture being meaningful to each, albeit in different ways. While I’m not clairvoyant, each client gets my best effort to locate their specific purpose and definition of beauty for their project.

My office is a (barely) converted music studio that was built for demo tape #3. The demo was never completed (issues with my hands), but the studio was given a workout by my son’s high school bands, one of which is still together after 10+ years. The last pieces of my vintage Fender equipment joined my son in New York City last year, and has been put to excellent use during the pandemic, for the recording of his first solo record, released in April 2022.

As Austin evolves, what is the fate of the Slacker ethos that is one (of many) elements to put us on the map thirty-plus years ago? I don’t see the phenomena around the movie as glorifying the pursuit of idleness: “Precise” and “complete” more accurately describes my architecture. What I value from my life in Austin and zeitgeist into which I landed is the commitment to the creative spirit – it continues to draw so many here. That spirit has empowered me to do many things; I’m most thankful for the top-to-bottom remodel & addition to house 001, which I did with my own hands. Did I mention that we lived in it through the entire process? (Patient family!)

If any of my Austin story resonates with you, or if the images collected on the site similarly register, I would welcome the opportunity to help with your stories, and your projects.

Mark Daniel Brown