Austin Parks Foundation (APF), The Trail Foundation (TTF), and the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) announced today the funding of a collaborative planning study for the future of Seaholm Waterfront, the historic Seaholm Intake structure and its surrounding parkland. The plan—which will rely heavily on public input via online platforms, stakeholder meetings, and public open houses—will serve as a roadmap for future park improvements and the repurposing of the decommissioned Seaholm Intake structures for public use and recreation.
The planning phase, which will begin in late May and be completed in the fall, will provide PARD and the City of Austin with the programming, operational, and economic input needed to develop a world class public facility that will respect the historic significance of the Seaholm Intake structure.
“After years of extensive research, in 2016 PARD took our information and engaged long-time partners Austin Parks Foundation (APF) and the Trail Foundation (TTF) in discussions about the next steps to position the Seaholm Intake Building and surrounding 3-acre parkland for redevelopment as a public and recreational facility,” said PARD Acting Director Kimberly McNeeley. “We are thrilled that they have agreed to fully fund the next planning phase.”
“The Seaholm Intake structure and its accompanying parkland provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for redevelopment and adaptive reuse,” says APF CEO Colin Wallis. “With our partners at The Trail Foundation and PARD, we have invested significant time to find the most capable firm to lead the study and feel confident in our selection of Studio Gang.”
An internationally recognized architecture and urbanism firm founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang has developed such landmark urbanism projects as Civic Commons, a set of design strategies and techniques that communities can use to renew their public assets, created as part of the national initiative Reimagining the Civic Commons; two boathouses on the Chicago River; the Nature Boardwalk and Pavilion at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago; and the framework plan for Northerly Island, a public park and former airfield on Lake Michigan.
“We’re excited to help unlock the potential of this historic building, nested in an incredible system of parks and trails, along one of the great downtown waterfronts in the United States” says Gia Biagi, principal of urbanism at Studio Gang. “We’re looking forward to working in partnership with the city and its citizens to activate this important public asset.”
Studio Gang will collaborate with various Austin sub-consultants, including Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Datum Engineering, and Urban Design Group. Their first order of business will be to conduct stakeholder meetings and public open houses to determine the best uses for the site and building based on the community’s input. In addition, they will develop construction cost models to determine overall project costs and likely phasing opportunities.
“The Trail Foundation is incredibly excited about our partnership with APF and PARD to begin the process of giving new life to this space,” says Brian Ott, interim executive director of The Trail Foundation. “The 3 acres of parkland including the historic buildings, give us a unique opportunity to activate and reimagine what has become an underutilized public asset right next to downtown."
Originally constructed in conjunction with the Seaholm Power Plant in the 1950s, the Seaholm Intake structure was decommissioned and dedicated as parkland when the power plant was no longer needed to provide power to the City of Austin. Today, the intake structure and parkland represent a unique opportunity to create a vibrant recreational and publicly-accessible destination. The study area will span between the Pfluger Bridge and Shoal Creek, and from the lake’s edge to Cesar Chavez.
Austin Parks Foundation and The Trail Foundation are fully funding this project in the amount of $450,000. For more information about the project, please visit www.austintexas.gov/seaholmwaterfront.
ABOUT AUSTIN PARKS FOUNDATION:
Austin Parks Foundation (APF) is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people of Austin and Travis County by strengthening the region’s parks system, which spans more than 29,000 acres. A non-profit established in 1992, APF addresses the city’s funding and resource gap in order to develop, maintain, and enhance the area’s 300+ parks, trails, and green spaces. APF fosters innovative public/private partnerships and since 2006, has given more than $2.5 million in community grants to the greater Austin community. APF is known for its annual flagship volunteer event, It’s My Park Day, and is a presenting partner and beneficiary of Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Metropolitan Park. For more information, please visit www.austinparks.org.
ABOUT THE TRAIL FOUNDATION:
The Trail Foundation’s mission is to protect and enhance the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, the 10-mile lush, urban path in the heart of Austin that gets more than 2.6 million visits every year. Since it was founded in 2003, The Trail Foundation has achieved restoration and beautification projects to the Trail’s infrastructure and environment, while honoring the original vision of the Trail’s founders and ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come. For more information, please visit www.thetrailfoundation.org
ABOUT STUDIO GANG:
Studio Gang is an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Recognized internationally for a design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities, and environments, Studio Gang produces award-winning work that ranges in scale from the 82-story Aqua Tower to the 14-acre Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Recent projects include the Gilder Center at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the new United States Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, and the 2017 Summer Block Party installation at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Honored and published widely, the Studio’s work has been exhibited at the International Venice Architecture Biennale, Museum of Modern Art, the National Building Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Studio’s Urbanism and Civic Impact practice works to understand, contextualize, and respond to challenges faced by communities, cities, governments, markets, and others within the urban ecosystem. The practice blends authentic community engagement, a commitment to socio-economic justice, and deep planning and design expertise to make new solutions possible. This will be Studio Gang’s first project in Texas. www.studiogang.com
Communications and Public Information Office
301 W. 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701