The Barton Springs Bathhouse 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 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.
- 2018: Community Engagement
- 2019: Schematic Design
- 2020: Design Development
- 2021: Construction Documents (Ongoing)
- 2023: Construction Begins
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.
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
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
Thursday, October 18, 2018
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.
If you have questions or comments, please email Ellen Colfax, Associate Project Manager, Parks and Recreation Department, or call at (512) 974-9472.