the future of austin

Pick your plan: The top 5 design elements from each Waller Creek proposal

Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_waller creek_design elements_oct 2012_1
Courtesy of CMG and Public Architecture
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_waller creek_design elements_oct 2012_2
Courtesy of Workshop, Ten Eyck, Rogers Marvel
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_waller creek_design elements_oct 2012_3
Courtesy of Turenscape Lake Flato
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_waller creek_four finalists_sep 2012_MVVA
Courtesy of Courtesy of MVVA and Thomas Phifer & Partners

CMG and Public Architecture

CMG and Public Architecture presented a plan for the redesign of Waller Creek that the team described "less of a park and more of a living city constitution," i.e. one that's ripe with interesting, ambitious built environments and public gardens.

1) Moon Garden

A series of gardens spring forth along Waller Creek, including a downtown city block illuminated by ambient lighting shimmering against the creek's water and parkland, inspired by Austin's moonlight towers.

2) 12x12 Bridges

The team proposes to have 12 Austin artists put their mark on the 12 bridges that will serve as crossing points along Waller Creek, which would be considered a "light touch" and restorative method.

3) City Deck

An eye-catching geometric boardwalk at the mouth of Lady Bird Lake surrounded by a Floating Garden provides for jumping off points for water activities and habitats for aquatic life.

4) Sabine Street Promenade

A several blocks long promenade shaded by striking crosshatched Urban Canopies will reintroduce pedestrians to this particular downtown area.

5) Urban Farm

A community farm in the heart of downtown with potential partners Urban Roots and Urban Patchwork.



Workshop: Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, and Rogers Marvel Architects

Workshop's method is to "rewild Waller Creek." You will see less insertive design and more of a focus on bringing nature to the forefont. 

1) Waller Walk

A mile long winding walk up the creek inserted with "GetDowns," reflecting points where visitors can get close to the water.

2) Waller Bike

The team sees Waller Creek as "Austin's missing street" and introduces plans for a bike path that would provide as intimate and "poetic" an experience with the creek as those on foot.

3) Urban Birding Habitat

As Austin is in the central flyway for many migratory species, the team plans to introduce methods for a sustainabe urban birding habitat.

4) Palm Park

A "destination playground," Palm Park is multigenerational with a major focus on children. The team sees Palm Park and it's playground as a way to "teach life skills" by way of architecture and nature.

5) Waterloo Park

The team will remove the landfill to reintroduce the natural grades of the land and turn the area into a festival lawn with healing gardens for Brackenridge Hospital.



Turenscape + Lake|Flato Architects

The concept of “The Oasis” drove the theme of this proposal, which sought to use, energize and celebrate the water flowing through the creek bed.

1) The Cypress Walk

A terra cotta-colored concrete walkway along the bottom of the creek, just above the water, winds up the entire length of Waller Creek.

2) Public Water Playscape

An urban beach and swimming hole, and a series of wading pools, are the crown jewel of the reinvigorated and family-friendly Palm Park.

3) Music Bend

A section of the creek becomes an extension of the Red River district, a park with a pavilion and focus on music appreciation.

4) Theater Under the Trees

An amphitheater and stage over the water punctuate the new Waterloo Park, celebrating the pond that will be created by the creek tunnels.

5) Urban Farming

A section of a new Lady Bird Park near the mouth of the creek would be dedicated to community crops and educational programs around urban farming.



Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and Thomas Phifer & Partners

The team proposes a “chain of parks” narrative along Waller Creek, bookended by iconic structures that speak to the city’s adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors.

1) Floating pontoon bridge

From a network of bridges at the mouth of Waller Creek to the proposed boardwalk project on Lady Bird Lake floats a pontoon bridge. Two times a day it swings out to cross the lake.

2) The Poppy

The team plans a covered, luminous, lightweight pavilion at Waterloo invites music and community, and can fit 1,000 people under its airy structure.

3) Media corrals

The plan would open up the embankment at I-35 between 4th and 6th streets and create walls of programmable LED “media mesh” for passersby.

4) Habitat Refuge

A new bridge at 8th Street includes a pier that treats stormwater and funnels it into a wetland area that functions as an ecological laboratory and learning center.

5) A Place for Pause 

A cool, shady, earthy grove of live oaks offers a place to relax next to the creek downtown, inviting for pedestrians as well as community events.