As part of continuing efforts in the Southwest to develop and improve transit systems, the City of Austin has announced its intention to build an urban rail system known as UltraRail that will run through the cityâ€™s eastern downtown.
The evening of April 14th was a big one for the East Austin community, when developers met with residents to unveil the master plan for the 208-acre lot of land known as Colony Park.Â Plans for theÂ development wereÂ rolled out onto a community center floor as a giant map that enabled attendees to walk, step-by-step, through the five-year-plus initiative. The project hopes to bring commerce, parks, new residences, into a sustainable community.
The Contemporary Austin
700 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas
Through April 20th
Charles Longâ€™s latest exhibition CATALINâ€”aptly namedÂ after a toxic plastic material fabricated in the 1930sâ€”uses a multi-media approach to simulate a feeling of impending doom. In this Gesamtkunstwerk, Long combines sculpture, film, music, fragrance, theater, performance, and grand spectacle to create a mystical and magical Wagnerian world.
Since the construction of the twin freeway bridges that carry the MoPac expressway over Barton Creek in 1987, the Austin community has been clamoring for a bike and pedestrian bridge to accompany it. That outcry has now been answered. On February 11, The Texas Department of Transportation approved just such a crossing. The project will cost the state around $7.7 million and will take approximately thirty months to complete.
According to the Austin Public works department the construction will be handled in three phases: Phase I includes adding a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Barton Creek at MoPac. The south bound lanes of MoPac will also be re-striped to lessen traffic congestion and to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections to the Southwest Parkway, Loop 360, and other trails in the area, including the Violet Crown Trail and the Oak Hills Neighborhood Trail System.
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Austinâ€™s Circuit of the Americas gets an iconic observation tower using 350 tons of steel.
The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, will host the United States Grand Prix from 2012 to 2021. While German Formula 1 specialist Hermann Tilke designed the racecourse and technical facilities, COTAâ€™s owners hired local firmÂ MirÃ³ Rivera Architects to turn out a main grandstand and amenities for the 9,000 fans expected to attend the races. In addition to imbuing the project with a variety of programmatic functions that go beyond racing,Â MirÃ³ Rivera created a sleek observation tower that gives spectators unrestricted views across the racetrackâ€™s twisting expanse.
â€œOur idea for the tower was to be able to go way up and see the track from one focal point in a structure that was an iconographic symbol for the track,â€ said Miguel Rivera, founder and principal of the architecture firm. â€œOur inspiration came from Formula 1 cars, where speed and efficiency are so important.â€ Just like the trackâ€™s feature attractions, the towerâ€™s design didnâ€™t feature any excesses. Structural engineers at Walter P Moore helped ensure every piece of steel did some kind of work so the tower was as efficient as possible. Read More
According to a very confidential source, engineers currently working on the Waller Creek tunnel believe that Austin sits on top of some of the most optimal conditions for tunneling in the entire U.S. These number-crunching problemÂ solvers claimed that a subway tunnel beneath the Texas State Capitalâ€™s downtown would cost 1/10th of the amount it would in most places in the country. However,Â the brainiacs also said that there are those in high places who do not want that knowledge spread around (read TxDOT) because the construction of more freeways is making certain people a great deal of money.
Austin, Texasâ€“based architects Dan Cheetham and Michelle Tarsney have given a new face to some of the city’s underutilized spaces: alleyways. Their one-of-a-kind community art installation,Â 20ft WIDE, seeks to resolve conflict between architecture, art, and humanism in order to create places of lasting value.Â The once forgotten alley between Ninth and Tenth streets, which connects Congress Avenue and Brazos Street in Downtown Austin, has been transformed into a collaborative space toÂ bring attention to public urban places and foster discussion about the new possibilities for their uses
Austinâ€™s new temporary art installation, THIRST, is inspired by Texasâ€™ ongoing periods of severe drought since 2011. According to studies conducted by Texas A&M Forest Services, over 300 million trees have succumbed to the stateâ€™s extremely dry conditions over the past three years. Located between the Pfluger Pedestrian Crossway and the Lamar Boulevard Bridge, a white-ghostly tree now hovers over Lady Bird Lake and is surrounded by a floating barrier.
The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department recently hosted a competition (ended July 12) to attract concepts for the adaptive reuse of the Seaholm Intake Facility, the pump house of the decommissionedÂ Seaholm Power Plant (the turbine hall of which is undergoing another adaptive reuse project). The Seaholm complex is located prominently on Lady Bird Lake in downtown, not far from Waller Creek, whose landscape is being redesigned byÂ Michael Van Valkenburgh, and adjacent to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
Some of its buildings, including the intake, are solid examples of the heroic period of AmericanÂ cast-in-place concrete Art-Deco municipal architecture and stand as civic icons in Austin. Competition entrants were asked to envision a new use for the structure and the surrounding land that would engage park users, the trail, and the water.
Austin Parks received 76 proposals and is displaying its favorite 10 entries at Austin City Hall from now until August 2. The top three will be announced on August 9. The ideas from the top three proposals will “help inspire subsequent design phases of the project,” according to Austin Parks’ website. Following this competition, Austin Parks will release a request for proposals for public-private partnerships with ideas of how to reuse the facility.
TheÂ National Preservation Conference landed in Austin, Texas, last week under the banner “Next American City, Next American Landscape.” Exploring preservation’s role in the future of the country’s urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, the 2010 conference showed that preservationists aren’t all stuck in the past. (In fact, they’re pretty savvy when it comes to new media. Check out the NTHP’s Austin Unscripted on their website, Twitter, and YouTube to see how preservation can appeal to a new generation.) The opening plenary was held at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, which is sited to take advantage of the unobstructed views of downtown Austin. Read More