Lady Bird Loo

Architect: Mell Lawrence Architects

Location: Austin, Texas

Category: Under 5,000 sq ft (category three)

These two structures are scaled to its surrounding landscape and are through subtle shifts in geometry that differentiate them, each has its own sense of personality.

The Lady Bird Loo is located near Austin’s wild and busy downtown, in a stretch of hike-and-bike trails paralleling the river that bisects the city. The clients needed two single restrooms, low maintenance and vandal-resistant with great ventilation and a sense of safety for the occupant. The design team wanted spirited shelters scaled to the well treed riverside park space, with each having its own personality. The interiors give a sense of momentary pause and respite; they are safe and airy with great light and views of trees and sky.

Requiring no special finishes or maintenance, the project is built entirely of steel and concrete left raw and unfinished. Changing sunlight animates the whole experience; it amplifies details and narrow edges, reemphasizes the faceted forms, darts light-slivers through intentional gaps between material, and creates useful shade and fun shadow patterns.

Additional information

Builder, contractor: Balfour Beatty

Metal subcontractor: Sarabi Studio

Civil engineer: Big Red Dog

Structural engineer: Architectural Engineer's Collaborative

MEP engineer: Kent Consulting Engineers

Accessibility specialist: Deming Designs

Permit consultant: Permit Partners

Client project manager: Ross Anders

Lighting: Sanford Electric


Jean Dufresne, AIA (Chair), Space Architects + Planners, Chicago

Richard Fernau, FAIA, Fernau + Hartman Architects, Berkeley, California

Joyce Hwang, AIA, Ants of the Prairie, Buffalo, New York

Jack Travis, FAIA, Jack Travis FAIA Architect, Bronx, New York

Kulapat Yantrasast, wHY Los Angeles, Culver City, California

Image credits


Whit Preston


Whit Preston


Whit Preston


Whit Preston


Whit Preston


Whit Preston