What would Austin be without its City Hall, Central Library or iconic 360 Bridge?
For 50 years, Austin developer Hensel Phelps has shaped Austin with city-focused landmark developments across the metro, gracing the top spot on Austin Business Journal's best general contracting list for years in a row.
In 1972, the company broke ground for the first time in Austin with the Town Lake, or Mopac Bridge project, connecting the developing areas of West Austin to the rest of the city.
Hensel Phelps broke ground for its first project, the Mopac Bridge, in 1972. (Texas Freeway)
The Town Lake Bridge was one of eight available bridges in Austin at the time of construction. (Hensel Phelps)
Since then, it's headed several projects, including:
- The Pennybacker (360) Bridge: After the Town Lake Bridge success, the company set out to build the world's second cable-supported bridge. Newcomers and native Austinites alike take to the nearby 360 Bridge Overlook Trail to see sunset views of the cliffside, copper-colored landmark.
- Dell Diamond Baseball Stadium: Since it opened in 2000, the Round Rock Express, the metro's Triple-A- Minor League baseball team, has held countless games at this 85-acre, 11,000+ capacity stadium.
- Samsung Fab 2 Chip Fabrication Facility: When Hensel Phelps helped Samsung with its second semiconductor project in the area in 2007, the grand opening ceremony was commemorated with the University of Texas Longhorn Band, UT Cheerleaders, pop singer LeAnn Rimes and a bald eagle to boot.
- Austin Central Public Library: With six floors, a rooftop garden and plenty of window views of downtown, Austin's Central Library project quickly became a central hub for the city when it opened in 2017.
- Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium: The company has had a hand in all major expansions of the Texas Longhorns' longtime football stadium.
Austin's new Central Public Library first opened in 2017. (Hensel Phelps)
Through dozens of projects dotted throughout the region, Hensel Phelps' Southwest district manager and Vice President Brad Winans said the company's focus has always been the public sector.
"That's where we think we support and develop the city, from truly grassroots, truly local support and involvement in the community," Winans said. "Our job is to develop things that truly support the city, not specific to one business."
Austin's City Hall was constructed with native Texas limestone and built with sustainability in mind. (Hensel Phelps)
A University of Texas graduate and 30-year employee, Winans said that the company's 2004 City Hall project felt most impactful to the community. The building, built from both native limestone and recycled materials, embraced sustainability and high-tech qualities, including solar panels in its garage, while maintaining a classic Texan identity.
"It's a very hard industry to be a part of, but it's also very rewarding," Winans said. "For me, City Hall means a lot because the back in the day, we called it 'The Jewel,' and so it's great to be part of that."
The company has constructed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in the past and will continue to help expand the airport. (Hensel Phelps)
With 50 years under its belt, Winans said the company will continue to work on the "endless" development opportunities coming to the city, from expansion of the rapidly-growing Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to projects in the tech sector.
"Everybody seems to want to come to Austin," Winans said. "It'd be nice if things did kind of spread out a little bit, but right now there's still a very eager push to develop in and around Central Texas and I think (Hensel Phelps) will be a major part of that."
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Starting Friday, the No. 9-ranked Texas Longhorns baseball team will welcome three NCAA Division I teams for the Austin Regional Tournament as it looks to reach the College World Series for the second year in a row.
No. 1 seed Austin will host its regional postseason tournament for the second consecutive year as the team kicks off against No. 4 seed Air Force at 1 p.m. Friday.
The tournament will also include No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech and No. 3 seed Dallas Baptist, with each team vying for a top spot in the double-elimination weekend event.
Despite coming in as opposite seeds, Texas (42-19) appears to be evenly matched its first opponent, the Air Force Falcons (30-27,) after the two split a two-game series at the Austin field in April. Both teams rank in the top 10 for batting averages, with the Longhorns ranked third with a .321 average.
Texas comes into the tournament after it was blown out by rival Oklahoma University 8-1 in a fight for the Big 12 Championship. Originally poised as a No. 1 ranked team, the Longhorns earned 11 wins in a row to kick off the season before racking up a 14-10 record in Big 12 Conference play.
Meanwhile, the Air Force comes into the game off a four-game win streak after winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament May 28. Louisiana Tech, which takes on Dallas Baptist at 6:30 p.m. Friday, enters the tournament as Conference USA champions for the first time in its history, while DBU lost out on its conference title after racking up a 34-22-1 record this season.
Austin will host the regional tournament for a record 37th time as it makes its 61st appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the regional will advance to the Super Regional against the winner of the Greenville Regional Tournament before the College World Series kicks off against the top 8 teams on June 17 in Omaha, Nebraska.
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St. Edward's former head baseball coach Rob Penders was terminated early Friday morning after an October petition calling for the coach to be fired on allegations of racism resurfaced.
According to the anonymous petition, which as of Friday morning had over 600 votes, Penders was "investigated by the school and found guilty of":
- displaying a racial slur in front of the team before a practice
- telling Black players to remove their head coverings
- relaying his family's racist history to Black players and showing insensitivity to Black people's experiences
"We expect all of our employees, including our coaches, to follow our operating principles and treat one another and our students with mutual respect," President Montse Fuentes wrote in the letter. "New concerning information and allegations have been identified regarding the head baseball coach that are not in alignment with our values. As a result, I concluded that there was a need for a leadership change."
The university declined to announce what new allegations had arisen.
In his 14 years with the program, Penders secured all nine Heartland Conference titles in the school's history, led the team to the NCAA Division II World Series in 2013 and won two Regional Coach of the Year awards.
On Dec. 6, the university announced that former pitching coach Brian Faulds would take the helm as head coach.
"Bryan has proven that he has the ability and wisdom to communicate and share that knowledge with the young men in our program in a way that is impactful and influential," Associate Vice President for Athletics Debbie Taylor said. "His energy, passion, and commitment to the student-athlete match perfectly with our expectations, goals and vision for the program."
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