Designs from finalists in Waller Creek redevelopment project on display

Concepts from the four finalists in the Design Waller Creek: a Competition project went on display for public exhibition Sept. 17.

The four design plans are on display until Sept. 30 at Laguna Gloria as well as other locations throughout the month, including the University of Texas School of Architecture, Austin City Hall, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and University Medical Center Brackenridge Hospital. A jury of five professionals from throughout the nation with expertise in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, economic development and restoration ecology will select the final design.

"Waller Creek is a defining feature of our city's geography and its history," Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole said. "Edmund Waller, our city's first mayor, in 1839 proclaimed Austin as defined by the shores of Waller Creek and Shoal Creek. Since that time, we have stopped fighting Sam Houston about what would be the capitol of Texas, we have dammed the Colorado River, we have created Lady Bird Lake and the hike and bike trail, and we have grown from a sleepy college town to a technology and live-music hub. Today, we glimpse yet another Austin evolution."

The four finalists include CMG and Public Architecture, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Thomas Phifer and Partners, Turenscape + Lake|Flato Architects and Workshop: Ken Smith Landscape Architect, and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects and Rogers Marvel Architects. Design teams come from areas including New York, Austin, San Antonio and China.

A formal announcement of the winning design team is expected to take place Oct. 18 after Austin City Council endorses a design.

"These (design plans) are the first tangible evidence and expression of the Waller Creek Conservancy's mission to deliver an exquisite public space to Austin," said Melba Whatley, president and co-founder of the Waller Creek Conservancy. "There is an unquenchable public thirst for great spaces, and Austin must line up with all the other great cities of the United States who are delivering these spaces."

The entire project will incorporate a 1.5-mile stretch of Waller Creek encompassing about 28 acres and about 11 percent of downtown Austin.

Officials for the conservancy expect to raise about $60 million for implementation of the project through private donations, grants, public funds and foundation support.

The Waller Creek Conservancy aims to preserve, maintain and redevelop Waller Creek so residents and visitors can experience nature within the city.

For more information about the project and the Waller Creek Conservancy, visit www.wallercreek.org.