Kingsbury Commons at Pease Park
Project site: Previously developed
Building program type(s): Public assembly - recreation
The 84-acre Pease Park, recognized as Austin’s first park, serves as a green retreat for residents as well as a buffer between downtown and the sprawling neighborhoods along the banks of Shoal Creek. This project is a critical component of the city’s plan for revitalizing the park’s southernmost tip and has transformed an underused historic building into a thriving event space that reinforces the park’s role in gathering people and connecting them to place.
The team’s design weaves together existing vegetation with a robust program of new amenities that include event rental spaces, restrooms, natural playgrounds, a basketball court, and an interactive water feature that cleverly references the Texas Hill Country’s karst limestone aquifers. Existing features, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps-era picnic tables and the park’s historic Tudor Cottage, were preserved to showcase the park’s rich history.
This is a strong, consistent project that is well-integrated into the site and navigates the landscape well. – Jury comment
Originally built in the 1920s, the Tudor Cottage was among the first facility buildings constructed in this section of the park. From its spot on a bluff that overlooks the southern end of the park, the cottage originally functioned as a restroom. After renovation by the team, it is now a perfectly situated event space adjacent to other park activities. Inside, interior walls were removed to transform the space into a single room that is enhanced by the vaulted ceiling. A new glazed opening that faces north connects the space to a large terrace where visitors can look over the park.
Not far from the cottage on the park’s western edge, two new buildings, a restroom and storage building, are tucked into the slope of the hill and clad with steel mesh for ivy to climb along. The team selected a muted material palette of board-formed concrete and steel that will develop a striking patina with time. Additional amphitheater-style seating was built into the hillside, forming an ideal spot to organize volunteer workdays or for visitors to rest in the shade.
Tying the project together is a low ribbon-like limestone wall that unifies the numerous outdoor elements as it snakes through the park. Depending on the elevation, the wall steps up and down, alternating as seating, steps up the hillside, or a band that runs flush with the sidewalk. It also morphs into the water feature that attracts the park’s youngest visitors in the summer.