The Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse Rehabilitation at Barton Springs Pool is a major task identified in the Barton Springs Master Plan (PDF, 24 MB) (completed in 2009) and further outlined in the Zilker Bathhouse Zone Feasibility Study (completed in 2016). Major elements of work will include access improvements, replacement of the plumbing systems, structural repairs and restoration of critical parts of the entry rotunda and the changing rooms. Improvements to the Aquatic facilities and the Sheffield Education Center are also a part of this project. District 8

Construction began on the Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse Rehabilitation Project in February 2024 with substantial completion anticipated in spring 2025.  

During construction, one-way traffic on William Barton Drive near the bathhouse will be limited to emergency vehicles, construction deliveries, and vehicles needing accessible parking. Public parking in the lot north of the bathhouse will not be available except for accessible parking per Americans with Disabilities Act and Texas Accessibility Standards. 


In preparation for the start of construction on the Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse Rehabilitation at Barton Springs Pool, The Splash! Into the Edwards Aquifer Exhibit closed on August 22, 2023. The Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center closed on September 5, 2023.

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Updated Presentation (December 2023) | View PDF (13 MB)

Background and Project Description


The Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool was constructed in 1947 after the previous structure was destroyed by flood. Its original service design included a mechanized basket system that was removed circa 1968 after another flood damaged the system. About this time the primary entrance was moved from the rotunda to the southeast corner of the building where it remains today. Several other minor additions have been made to enhance accessibility and service to the pool. In 1998 the Beverly Sheffield Educational Center and the SPLASH! aquifer exhibits were added within the original basket area. The mission of Sheffield Education Center and Splash! into the Edwards Aquifer Exhibit is to foster stewardship of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer through education. The Barton Springs area is covered under Federal, State, and City historic designations of which the Bathhouse is a primary architectural feature. After 75 years of service, many of the internal features of the facility have deteriorated and need major repairs. The Joan Means Khabele Bathhouse Rehabilitation was a major task identified in the Barton Springs Master Plan (PDF, 24 MB) (completed in 2009).

Project Description

The goal of this effort is to rehabilitate the existing Bathhouse to provide a first-class facility for Barton Springs visitors for the next 75 years while maintaining the historic integrity of the facility and meeting program needs. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) with the assistance of the Public Works Department has engaged a professional design consultant team led by Limbacher & Godfrey Architects to complete design and construction bid documents. 

As a part of the Bathhouse Rehabilitation project, the Sheffield Education Center and Splash! exhibit will be redesigned and updated. The main entrance to Barton Springs pool will move back to the central rotunda near the original entry, creating an opportunity for swimmers to visit the exhibit space as they enter the pool. Visitors will be able to learn about the importance of protecting the watershed and aquifer, preserving the salamander habitat, and how they can play a role.


Q: How long will the bathhouse be under construction?
A:  Construction will take about 14 months with a scheduled start in early 2024 with substantial completion anticipated in spring of 2025. As with any construction project, schedules may change as the work progresses.

Q: Will Barton Springs pool be open during the construction on the Bathhouse?
A:  Barton Springs pool will follow the regular schedule and remain open to swimmers during the Bathhouse Rehabilitation. 

Q: How will swimmers enter Barton Springs Pool during construction on the Bathhouse?
A: A temporary pool entrance will be provided on the north side near the Bathhouse. The south pool entry will remain unchanged.

Q: Will swimmers be able to use the Bathhouse during the rehabilitation project?
A:  The bathhouse will be closed during construction. Temporary restroom and shower facilities will be provided next to the Bathhouse while it is under construction.

Q:  Will swimmers be able to park in the lot in front of the Bathhouse during construction?
A:  Public parking will not be available except for ADA/TAS accessible parking west of the Zilker Hillside Theater.  One-way traffic on William Barton Drive will be limited to emergency vehicles, construction deliveries, and vehicles needing accessible parking.  

Q: Why won’t the public be able to use the parking lot during construction?
A: There will be extensive work in and on the parking lot to add ADA/TAS accessible parking, upgrade the plumbing lines, reduce impervious paving,  restripe parking spaces, and provide staging areas for construction deliveries and storage of building materials.

Q:  Will the lifeguards have a manager’s office and a breakroom during construction?
A: Temporary facilities will be provided for lifeguards on either end of the Bathhouse.

Q:  Will the Violet Crown Trailhead Restrooms (west of the Zilker Hillside Theater) remain open?
A:  Yes.

Q: Will the playground east of the bathhouse remain open?
A:  Yes.

Anticipated Schedule
  • 2018: Community Engagement (Complete)
  • 2019: Schematic Design (Complete)
  • 2020: Design Development (Complete)
  • 2021: Construction Documents (Complete)
  • Summer 2023: Bidding and Permitting (Complete)
    • Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP) solicitation issued on Austin Finance Online on June 26, 2023 (info here)
  • Winter 2024: Construction Start (Ongoing)
  • Spring 2025: Construction Complete

The interpretive planning and revitalization of the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center will occur within this timeline.

Please note that as in any construction project, schedules are projected as accurately as possible. All dates are subject to change due to the nature of construction and the weather.

Community Engagement

Community Engagement Summary (PDF)

The community engagement phase of the Bathhouse design effort has concluded. The process included opportunities for community members to provide input and comment on design schematics and progress through stakeholder meetings, multiple open houses, and on-line updates all with opportunities for comments. See the schedule of meetings previously held below and the summary above.

Design Kick-off meeting
April 3, 2018

Community Survey

A community survey was conducted online and at Barton Springs. Over 1,000 participants contributed their ideas.

Project Values and Program Workshop
Tuesday August 14, 2018

Meeting #3 and Open House
Stakeholder Meeting
Thursday, October 18, 2018

Open House
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Preliminary Concepts and Values Survey
Below are the preliminary concepts/schemes that were presented.

Final Schematic Design Survey results

Community Meeting #4: Updating the Process
October 30, 2019

Funding and Resources

Funding for this rehabilitation project is provided through 2012 GO Bond funds, the Historic Preservation Fund, and contributions from the Barton Springs Conservancy. Additional exhibit contributions are provided by the city’s Watershed Protection Department and Austin Water Department.

The Historic Preservation Fund is Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue for projects and initiatives that meet allowable uses as defined under Chapter 351 of the Texas Tax Code and is an essential tool for the promotion of tourism. Public parks, museums, and cultural centers are among the top tourist attractions in the City and PARD works in partnership with the Heritage Tourism Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department, which manages with Historic Preservation Fund.

Contact Information

Questions or concerns?

Project contacts:
Paul Mendoza, AIA, Project Manager
Capital Delivery Services
Ellen Colfax, RA, Project Manager
Parks and Recreation Department

A photograph of the Bathhouse is overlaid with turquoise with a white outline drawing of the bathhouse's rotunda.