If you haven’t yet read this week’s edition of The Austin Chronicle – and seen the amazing front page photo/rendering – please check it out at once here! Stupendous reporting by Senior News Editor, Michael King, of breaking news regarding a multi-billion dollar plan to build a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in the middle of Lady Bird Lake, coupled with the new Light Rail line running straight through the center of the stadium as the train crosses the river.
Earlier this week, the City of Austin announced the Top 10 and requested public input to select the Top Three ideas for the redevelopment of the Seaholm Intake Building (that concrete bunker on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake by the train bridge).
Below are the Top Three finalists. Ostensibly, these are three designs the public most preferred.
Each of the winners get $5,000, but it is unclear if their ideas will ever become a reality. This fall or winter City Hall will issue an RFP for the project, and presumably these design winners stand a better chance than others of being selected. However, it doesn’t appear like this is going to go down like the Waller Creek competition did and these winning ideas are just that: ideas.
Below (in no special order) are the three winning visions, as selected by an anonymous jury of 10.
“Link” – Gumbully (pdf)
Team: Brendan Wittstruck, Justin Beadle, Philip Burkhardt, Roberto Jaime Deseda, Heath Henderson, Julia Weese-Young
Team: Laura Bryant, Nathan Wilcox, Alex Ramirez, Sarah Simpson, Allison Moore Eric Van Hyfte, Kim Villavicencio, Philip Koske, Steven Moore, Tim Campbell, Mary Martinich, Conners Ladner, Jason Ferster, Magda Sayeg (local artist), Will Steakley (DEN)
Team: George Blume, Brittney Couch, Jesse Adler, Vineta Clegg, Chris Curson, Adrianna Hong, Gerardo Gandy, Stacy Reed
The ABJ is predicting the next niche of downtown to blossom will be anchored by Republic Square Park – which was a surface parking lot through the mid-70s.
The Plaza Lofts kicked off the modern idea of downtown condo life overlooking the park. Next came the AMLI on 2nd. The Post Office site is now controlled by a joint venture between Endeavor and Andrews -Urban. The Federal Courthouse is now complete, and it is pretty good looking as courthouses go. Travis County deployed tons of cash to buy the block immediately south of Republic Square.
Oh, Republic Square is also going to be an anchor for the upcoming MetroRapid.
No doubt, Republic Square Park’s rejuvenation is largely due to excellent stewardship. Kudos to the Austin Parks Foundation and Downtown Austin Alliance.
The area of downtown centered around Republic Square has begun a slow transformation from a bland, parking lot-studded section into a center of urban activity. – Austin Business Journal
Have you been to any of downtown Austin’s parks recently?
I walk near and around them almost everyday. Yet, they fail to draw me in.
Over the last couple of years, Republic Square Park has received a nice face lift. Smart people and private money ensured the auction oaks are preserved and cared for. Add to that good programming such as the Alamo Drafthouse’s Movies in the Park and the Saturday morning farmers market.
Republic Square is doing the best of the downtown parks. Still, most of the time downtown Austin’s parks are empty. That’s the unfortunate truth.
And, this is the reason:
During the week (daytime) Republic Square Park offers nothing to attract workers, visitors, or residents. It is neither a conduit nor a destination for most people.
Here’s how we fix it. [Read more...]
Wooldridge Square Park is closed for the next year, or so, as it receives improvements to the irrigation and landscaping.
Amidst a sea of bureaucratic bunk houses, a Malaise Era parking garage, a jail, and a drive-thru Bank of America, the park’s central gazebo and the close Austin History center can still conjure up memories of a shaded and serene sloped park hill.
Wooldridge Square was a part of the original plans for the City of Austin as laid out by Edwin Waller in 1839. It became a dedicated park in 1909 when then-Mayor Wooldridge cleared and drained the site for civic green space. The gazebo in the center of the park was added in 1910 and has a rich history of political speeches and gatherings for State, County and City officials.
The park is recently best known for hosting giant chess, and being the defacto setup for Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which helps feed Austin’s homeless population.
A couple of months ago, I headed over to play giant chess in the evening. Very enjoyable. No safety concerns, personally, but it’s clear that vagrancy keeps the masses at a distance.
If Wooldridge’s challenges can be distilled into three buckets, below is how I would describe them:
1) no surrounding pedestrian-oriented uses (attraction)
2) vagrancy (perception of safety)
3) poor/no irrigation (placemaking, grass)
Within a year, the irrigation should be improved. I understand that alternative placement or better coordination with MLF is being discussed. There’s a higher and better use for that parking garage and Bank of America, and those will eventually be replaced.
This is progress.
The focus is on inclusion. That’s what Nicole Harmon of Core Health Foundation, a non-profit spin-off of Core Health (a for-profit facility focusing on rehabilitation of those suffering with brain injuries), tells me. The project is a fishing pier, located on the northern shore of Lady Bird Lake, just south of the Holiday Inn off I-35 in the Rainey Street District. The project has been in the works for over 8-years, but was officially approved in 2010, and construction is expected to be complete in 2013. And while the driver and primary purpose of this project is for [Read more...]
Yes. Yes, O. yes. It’s that time again, folks. Time for the 35th annual O. Henry Pun Off. Taking place this Saturday (May 19th, 2012) at the O. Henry Museum (adjacent to Brush Square), this delightful competition celebrates the pun with two separate competitions – Punniest in Show and Punslingers.
However, a video is worth a million words – so, check out some of these punny finals videos from previous years: [Read more...]
I love this idea for downtown Austin. Convert two duck-in parking spaces in front of Royal Blue Grocery on Congress Ave, in order to improve the pedestrian experience and create a retail destination.
Upon approval by Council, later this month, the initiative would be a partnership between the City of Austin and Royal Blue Grocery, with design coming from Studio DWG and civil engineering firm Big Red Dog.
The street patio in front of Royal Blue Grocery is just a trial run. If successful we could see more street patios in other parts of downtown. The results should provide more space for pedestrians and a cafe sitting area, similar to Jos on 2nd Street. WIN!
More pics after the jump. [Read more...]