The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is taking the next steps toward moving the Dougherty Arts Center out of the beloved naval center and into a newly envisioned building to be constructed on Butler Shores Park. This project is in the construction document phase. District 9


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Built in 1947 as a Naval and Marine Reserve Center, the Dougherty Arts Center (DAC) was dedicated to the City and named for the late arts advocate Mary Ireland Graves in 1978. Since then, the DAC has been offering arts experiences for a broad audience through its three main components: The Dougherty Theater, Julia C. Butridge Gallery and the Dougherty Arts School.

As identified in a conditions assessment completed in 2010, the DAC building is beyond repair. The building was established as a temporary structure meant to be razed in the 1970s but was adopted as a permanent home that has outlived its viability. PARD will provide a new facility in order to continue to provide arts center services in a safe, healthy and sustainable environment. This project follows on the heels of the 2018 community engagement process and City Council direction in spring 2019.

Project Description

The project is currently in the design phase for the replacement of the existing DAC at a new location in Butler Shores Park. Funded by the 2018 Bond Proposition B, the new DAC facility will build on the existing core arts programs in an improved environment that can better accommodate Austin’s significant demand for affordable access to arts services. The conceptual planning and programming documents developed in 2018 with community consultation serve as basis for this project.


The goals for this project will build on the DAC’s mission: to support emerging through established artists who create, showcase and experience the arts first hand. PARD envisions the DAC as Austin’s cultural living room, where people of all ages, races, ethnicities, abilities, genders, sexual orientations, socio-economic statuses, nationalities and religions gather to create community through the arts.

Additional project goals identified in the planning phase include, but are not limited to:

  • Develop the surrounding parkland consistent with the vision for the Butler Shores and Cultural Arts District;
  • Strengthen trail connections and activating parkland through outdoor education, play and performance amenities;
  • Consider alternatives for pedestrian and vehicular circulation, site access and parking; and
  • Demonstrate high achievement in sustainable design for architecture and landscape.

Overhead drawing of new Dougherty Arts facility with buildings and lawn areas and facilities around the center

Image: Preliminary design approved by City Council, May 2021

Community Engagement

Virtual Event: Design Update
Monday, April 25, 2022, 7 p.m.
Meeting Recording
Meeting Presentation (PDF)

Funding and Resources

Primary funding comes from the 2018 Bond Proposition B. Read the Memo to City Council, January 26, 2022, discussing funding challenges

Contact Information

For more information, please contact Kevin Johnson, Project Manager, at or by phone at (512) 974-9506.

2018 Community Engagement

The information below guided the initial process in 2018.

The DAC of Tomorrow

The DAC has been the focus of multiple studies which determined that the redevelopment at the current site, due to its location within the floodplain and atop a former landfill, is seen as prohibitive from a both a practical application and cost impact. PARD has and continues to investigate feasible opportunities for the facility’s redevelopment.

Currently, there is one site on City of Austin parkland being considered – the site at Butler Shores.

Potential benefits of the Butler Shores site include:

Site is within reasonable proximity and service area of existing

DAC Adjacency to PARD Main Administrative Office Proximity to and potential partnership opportunities with the ZACH Theatre

Opportunity to improve parkland adjoining the PARD Main office and new DAC

Opportunity for shared structured parking facility

Opportunity to enhance Toomey Road streetscape and pedestrian connectivity to Zilker Park Consistent with recommendations in Town Lake Park Comprehensive Plan and Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan

Site is City of Austin Parkland and properly zoned for construction of a parks facility.

video en español

Community Meetings

Community Open House #1

June 21, 2018
Dougherty Arts Center Download flyer
The first open house gave the community an opportunity to learn about the redevelopment project, speak with representatives from the project team and submit feedback.

Open House Sign-In DAC Community Survey Final English  Final Draft Spanish Comment Cards Fact Sheet English  Spanish Media Kit Press Release English Spanish Download June 21, 2018 Public Meeting Presentation Board (3MB)

Community Open House #2

September 19, 2018
Zilker Botanical Gardens Download flyer
At the second open house, the project team shared the feedback received from the community during previous outreach, presented refined concepts, and collected additional feedback on the proposed development.

Open House #2 Sign-In Open House #2 Comment Cards Download September 19, 2018 Public Meeting Presentation Boards (8MB) DAC Community Survey Report

Presentations to Boards, Commissions, and City Council

2019 Board and Commission Dates (Updated March 28, 2019) (PDF) DAC Board and Commission Presentation (PDF)

Supplemental Project Information

Existing Facility Conditions Assessment - In 2010, MWM DesignGroup completed a conditions assessment of the existing facility.

Feasibility Study for DAC Redevelopment - In 2015, Architecture Plus completed a feasibility study for the DAC’s redevelopment at its current site, across from its current site, and on the Butler Shores parkland site.

DAC Architectural Program and Vision - In 2017, Studio8 Architects completed an architectural program for a future facility, based on current and projected uses.

 Design Phase 2020-2021

Plan Alternatives Presented 

This phase of the project includes the design of three plan alternatives for the redevelopment site, community outreach and presentations to City of Austin Boards and Commissions. It is anticipated that design and construction phase services will follow in 2021.

Concept map of future DAC site situated on Butler Shores, surrounded by Toomey Road, Zach Theater, Baseball field, Riverside, Lady Bird Lake, and Barton Creek

Community Engagement

Community engagement for the design phase began in October 2020, and the project team presented three site alternatives in early 2021. PARD connected with audiences who already interact directly with the Dougherty Arts Center as well as decision-makers or individuals and organizations representing more extensive fields of interests or concerns. This engagement process also sought other communities who will be a part of DAC's future, building on the engagement from 2018.

Community Meeting #1
October 28, 2020, 5 p.m.

Presentation (PDF) Zoom meeting recording Meeting Summary (PDF)


Community Meeting #2
January 26, 2021, 6 p.m.

DAC Staff - November 10 Adult Painting, Drawing, Photography - November 19 Youth Program Participants - December 1 Gallery Artists - December 2 Artist Professional Development - December 3 Theater Organizations - December 7 Friends of the DAC - December 9 Adult Ceramics - December 10 Toomey Road Residents and Neighbors - December 15 Equity in Arts Discussion - January 7, 2021

Community Survey: Closed January 4, 2021

Small Group Meetings
The small group discussions take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the dates below. Following all small group meetings. Click on each meeting to view the recording.


Boards, Commissions, City Council

After the community engagement process above, the project team presented to the following City of Austin boards, commissions, and City Council:

Design Commission: February 22, 5:30 p.m. Parks and Recreation Board: February 23, 6:00 p.m.


These meetings were made available to the community and allow for participation. Click the link to the desired meeting for more information.


Dougherty Arts Center Replacement project logo