Design synergy for Kingsbury Commons at Pease Park in Austin

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We are aware of the value of parks in our cities and therefore the attention and care of urban landscapes is becoming increasingly important. So it is by no means a coincidence that in Austin, Texas, the government – already in 2014 – passed this Pease Park Vision Plan, which was developed by senior consultants Wallace, Roberts & Todd and Clayton Korte to guide the future use and maintenance of the nearly 34-acre park. Located on the banks of Shoal Creek in downtown Austin, Pease Park is the city’s oldest public park and one of the most popular. A space, however, that not only had to be adapted to the new needs of the citizens, but also in view of climate change.
Now the first phase of this project has been completed with the rehabilitation and upgrading of the park’s southern tip, Kingsbury Commons. “Also affectionately called the “recreational heart and cultural soul” of the park”, as we read in the press release. The synergistic work of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Clayton Korte and Mell Lawrence Architects Studios have involved the renovation and enhancement of architectural heritage, such as Tudor Cottage, and the construction of a series of support buildings on the western edge of the park, which boast steel lattice walls and a landscape-inspired color palette that subtly blend into the natural context. In the world of design, architectural elements always serve to emphasize the natural context rather than overshadow it.
On the other hand, numerous interventions are associated with it the green infrastructure of the park and its climate resilience. These include restoring water infiltrations and restoring the source through the construction of a cobblestone and boulder lined canal flanked by native plants that encourage a vibrant ecosystem. Steel footbridges and quarry blocks of limestone dot the landscape, allowing visitors to traverse and interact with the spring. Because it was taken care of for dealing with nature and educating visitors about the geological formations and water systems of central Texas.
A playground with natural elements has also been created, inviting children to explore the forest and get their hands dirty, along with fitness equipment for adults in the shade of the large existing trees and a basketball court.
Knowing full well that the park is in one flood plainthe design team chose the materials not only for their proximity to the site or for their beauty, but also for their resistance to flooding. A central attraction of the project is certainly the so-called Treescape, a two-story steel sphere with a diameter of around 25 meters that lures park users into the treetops.
As the park’s nature is its primary wealth and beauty, the Existing vegetation was carefully protected during construction, and both upland and riparian zones along Shoal Creek underwent ecological restoration and removal of invasive species. To support the rich carpet of new native undergrowth plantings, native soils were salvaged and stored during construction so that soil was not imported locally,” This avoids endangering the biodiversity of the park.
This harmonious and meticulous work on all fronts has resulted in Kingsbury Commons at Pease Park being certified USGBC SITES Gold and received the 2022 Texas ASLA Honor Award. Tudor Cottage, on the other hand, received the 2021 Preservation Austin Merit Award for the redevelopment project. But the most important recognition is the great joy of the many users of Pease Park!

Christiane Buerklein

Project team:
Landscape Architect / Principal Consultant: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
Architect: Clayton Korte
Treescape: Mell Lawrence Architects
Civil engineer: Garza EMC
MEP Engineer: Jerry Garza & Associates
Civil Engineer: Architectural Engineers Cooperative
Lighting designer: Studio Lumina
Graphics and Signposts: Page/Dyal
Water feature: GPSI
General Contractor: Harvey-Cleary Builders
Owner/Client: Pease Park Conservancy, City Parks and Recreation Department
Location: Austin, Texas
Year: 2021
Images: Casey Dunn

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