Some folks in Madison don't know George Austin's name, but there's no one who hasn't benefited from his contributions. From 1983 to 1998, he served as director of the city's Department of Planning and Development, where, as Isthmus once noted, he helped bring about "an expanding city and a resurgent downtown that sparkles with new housing, office, visitor and rental opportunities." This included realizing the decades-old dream that is Monona Terrace.
But Austin was just getting started. He left to oversee construction of the Overture Center and later the UW's Institutes for Discovery - major monuments to the city and its future. Most recently he was tapped to head up planning for a high-speed train station in downtown Madison, before Gov. Scott Walker intervened to redirect this windfall to other states.
Throughout his life, George Austin has made big things happen; in the process, he's made Madison a better community.