At first glance, the Frost Bank Tower appears as a shiny building among the other structures that form the Austin skyline. But when viewed at a particular angle, the building transforms into what looks like a giant, futuristic glass bird. Locals dubbed it the “Owl Building,” and it’s the stuff of school mascot legends and Illuminati conspiracy theories.
At the time it was built, the 33-story tower was the tallest building in Austin. The Austin Chronicle gave the building its “Best Architecture” award twice based on reader votes and input, noting that the Frost Bank Tower, “keeps Austin characteristically weird with its owl face looking down over the city.” It didn’t take long for rumors about the owl’s significance to begin circulating.
One such myth states that one of the architects involved with the project was an alumnus of Rice University who was rejected from admission to the University of Texas at Austin. He allegedly intended the owl resemblance to be both an homage to his alma mater’s mascot and as a slight to UT Austin’s longhorn mascot. However, none of the architects actually had any connection with Rice University.
A darker myth comes in the form of conspiracy theories that the “Owl Building” is somehow related to Bohemian Grove, a secret society on the west coast of the United States where elites supposedly congregate to sacrifice children, plot world domination, and worship gigantic owls.
Though the circles near the top of the building do resemble the wide-eyed peepers of a certain nocturnal bird, they’re really just the Frost Bank logo.
Whether quirky coincidence, elaborate prank, or dastardly conspiracy, the building does undoubtedly look like an owl. To see it, make sure you’re viewing the building both at a distance and at an angle where only two sides of the building are visible.
Know Before You Go
Heading south on the upper deck of I-35 into downtown provides one of the best heights/angles for seeing the owl.