“I just wanted to be there,” says architect William D. McNeill.
“It was like, Oh, that’s nice to be around.
There’s so many people who have been here before.”
The New York Post’s article about McNeill’s group’s efforts to build a $300 million mansion for the Duke of Edinburgh on the grounds of the University of Texas at Austin was a story of an unlikely team.
But its true nature has since become an international story, with McNeill, a professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo and former dean of the School of Architecture, now a principal architect of the Trump Organization, and a local architect who helped the group get the house built in Austin.
“I just want to be here,” McNeill says, in a conversation with the Post about the new home.
“The Duke of Hamilton, I love him.
He’s so kind.
He’ll give you an umbrella when you’re out there.
It’s a big honor.
The Duke of Queens, he’s very, very beautiful.
The Dukes of Queens.
The Queen of England, she’s really beautiful.
And they’re so beautiful.
I love it.
I don’t have time to look around, but I think that they’re going to be very, like, very proud of me.
I just want a chance to work with them.”
McNeill is a former dean at the school, where he served as the president of the school’s Department of Architecture.
When the group approached McNeill about the project, he was impressed.
“It was a big project.
And it’s very important to him that it be very well-done,” McNeil says.
“He wanted the Duke to be the master of the castle.
And I was like: OK, well, we’re going with the Duke.”
The project began with an idea from McNeill: a three-story, two-story tower on the main campus of the university.
The first tower would be built in the university’s historic plaza on the UT campus, but the tower would also include a rooftop restaurant and an apartment complex.
The tower would feature a massive steel and concrete foundation, with an exterior of white marble, and the second tower would have a different appearance.
The idea was to create a new architectural icon for the campus and to help attract new visitors.
“The idea behind the tower was to be a symbol of the UT architecture that was here, and I think people were attracted to the idea that it would be like the Duke’s palace,” McHenry says.
The tower would house a restaurant, residential apartments, a restaurant with a rooftop patio, and an office complex.
“What we did was, we came up with the concept of a building that was a giant building, so the idea was, the tower had a massive structure in the center of it,” McPherson says.
McNeill designed the tower to be in the heart of campus.
He wanted to make sure the building was very much connected to campus, in the plaza, on the tower’s roof, with the building and the building being connected together.
“We just wanted the tower on a podium, in this plaza,” McLean says.
“And then the tower has the name Duke, but then you have the other side of the building where the residential apartment is,” Mclean adds.
“And then you’re on the rooftop of the tower, which is the residential part.
The building itself has all the apartments.
And then you’ve got the office, which has offices on either side.”
The first tower was completed in 2011, but it didn’t last long.
The university closed it down in 2014, and McNeill was never able to finish the project.
“So we had a new tower, and then they decided to close it down again, and so it’s been very much in limbo,” McJohnes says.
For years, the university had a large plaza that was open to the public, and they kept it open.
McLean remembers that the plaza was full of students and faculty.
But after the plaza closed down, it became even less of a public space.
“A lot of students, they would come to the plaza and just walk around,” McHone says.
That’s because McNeill wanted the building to be accessible to people who couldn’t walk to the main plaza.
McNeil wanted to have a large building that could accommodate a lot of people, but that would still be able to be open to a large number of people.
“You have to have that big building to make a big splash,” McPatrick says.
“You can’t just have this one tower.
You have to be able, for example, to have the parkade that you had at the campus of UT to be out of the way,” McPhail says.
It was in that same year that McNeill and McPhee had the idea