Waterfront Planning Advisory Board to hear presentation Jan. 9 from visiting experts
Austin, Texas -- The City of Austin will receive design and technical assistance for a section of Lady Bird Lake’s south shore as part of a grant from the American Institute of Architects. Austin is one of only seven communities nationwide to win a 2012 grant, which will be used to promote excellence in urban design and future development along the Lady Bird Lake waterfront while protecting public access.
“Lady Bird Lake is a treasure in the heart of Austin’s urban core,” said Council Member Chris Riley. “We want to ensure that future growth respects and enhances the character of our lakefront. This grant will help us do that.”
A planning study will be conducted and focus on the South Shore Central sub-district of the waterfront, bounded by Lady Bird Lake, South First Street to the west, and East Bouldin Creek to the south and west. View an area map.
The grant will bring a national team of architects, planners and other professionals to Austin in the spring to work with the local community to provide an independent assessment and make recommendations. The expert team will work with public officials, community leaders and residents to shape the community’s strategy for addressing transportation, economic and environmental issues.
“This is a marvelous opportunity to do something really special along the waterfront,” said James Knight, who chairs the Waterfront Planning Advisory Board. “The South Shore Central area, perhaps more than any other place along our lakeshore, is likely to face increasing pressures to accommodate future growth. We have a unique opportunity to ensure that future development is well considered, well designed, and provides for truly great public access to our lakefront.”
The grant is part of the American Institute of Architects Sustainable Design Assessment Team Program which focuses on the importance of developing sustainable communities through design. The SDAT program brings together multidisciplinary teams of professionals to work with community decision-makers and stakeholders through an intensive planning process. The program’s mission is to help communities develop a vision and framework for a sustainable future. The grant application was sponsored by a partnership between the City of Austin, AIA Austin and the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture Urban Design Program.
“The architects and other team members that we’ll assemble will bring expertise to Austin from all across America, providing best-practices advice from around the nation, and an independent assessment of the opportunities Austin has,” said Joel Mills, director of the AIA Center for Communities by Design.
AIA has assigned Harris Steinberg, FAIA, as the team leader for the project. Steinberg is director of PennPraxis, the consulting arm of the School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. His projects include leading Philadelphia residents to “Create a Civic Vision for the Central Delaware Riverfront.”
AIA staff from the Center for Communities by Design will visit Austin periodically throughout the project, including Jan. 9-10 for a preliminary visit in preparation for a full SDAT visit later this spring. After touring the city, AIA staff will assemble a team of six to seven additional professionals, drawn from various disciplines, for the three-day intensive planning process in the spring.
AIA staff also will attend the Waterfront Planning Advisory Board meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 9 in Room 325 at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road. The public is invited to attend and participate.
In 1985, a Town Lake Corridor Study established policies and goals that led to the 1986 Waterfront Overlay Combining District Ordinance, established to protect and enhance the waterfront while providing a framework for future development. The ordinance established 15 sub-districts (now 16) along the 5.4-mile Town Lake Corridor.
The Waterfront Planning Advisory Board, established by the City Council, is responsible for reviewing land-development issues and planning-level recommendations regarding proposed amendments impacting the Waterfront Overlay Combining District. The advisory board will use the AIA/SDAT process and consider the resulting recommendations to inform the board’s ongoing work of reviewing waterfront development and ordinance issues.
The American Institute of Architects Sustainable Design Assessment Team program is a community assistance program that focuses on the principles of sustainability. The program is operated from the AIA’s Center for Communities by Design.