Feature Illustration (above): The Hill Country section (left of the bridge) in the Alliance Children’s Garden in Butler Park. Courtesy: TBG Partners.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Austin (Travis County) — The Austin Design Commission gave an in compliance recommendation to the plans for Alliance Children’s Garden, a play space to be constructed in Butler Park.
Their decision was made Oct. 22 following a presentation by Justin Lindabury, a principal with TBG Partners. The development team includes Dunaway/UDG and the city of Austin Public Works Department.
The commission’s recommendation came with two amendments. They requested that more be done to make the attractions accessible to children with disabilities and that a review be done to ensure there are adequate restroom facilities. The park already has restroom facilities but a higher intensity of use is anticipated once the retrofit is done.
The project area as it is today. Alliance Children’s Garden will be located to the southwest corner of Butler Park. Map courtesy of TBG Partners.
Alliance Children’s Garden has been in the planning phase for several years. Based in part on public input, Lindabury said the goal is to provide an all age inclusive exploratory park.
Design considerations that responded to public input include an strong emphasis on shading and the use of materials that reflect Austin’s natural environment for shading. Significant trees on site will provide some shading. Some existing trees will be relocated and many other shade trees will be strategically planted. Other shade elements will be provided with prefabricated shade structures of various shapes.
The public also requested swings and traditional playground swings will be installed along with porch-style swings.
The Skyline View Garden will feature playground equipment such as climbing rope towers and balance beams. Courtesy: TBG Partners.
Earthen berms are to be constructed to provide elevation changes, tunnels and slides. Large concrete blocks will be installed to protect berms from erosion, and for use as seating and climbing.
Lindabury said the play area is divided into “five core rooms.” These are theme based sectors that provide for a more varied play experience. There will be an Art and Culture Garden (upper center on current site plan below) for educational events. There is a Skyline View Garden (upper right) that incorporates traditional play equipment (balances beams, a rope climbing towers, etc.).
The Hill Country (lower center) is on elevated uneven ground. This is where the tunnels are that lead back to the main pathway. It is also adjacent to the sand pit. There is a Labyrinth and Poetry Garden (lower left) for more passive activities.
The current site plan, as of October 2018. Courtesy: TBG Partners.
The aforementioned concrete block assembly is in a sector called the Rock and Slide Valley (lower right) and provides elevation changes of 7 to 8 feet, Lindabury said.
The Alliance Children’s Garden will get a new gateway next to the parking lot. The existing Liz E. Carpenter fountain, a splash zone, will remain. The site plan incorporates the fountain into the play area by using the fountain’s spiral design to create spiraling paths that lead to the various sections.
The park is also designed to connect with paths that lead to Willie Wells Field, the Barton Springs Road bike lanes, and the Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
SpawGlass was approved in August by City Council as the construction manager at risk.
According to TBG’s presentation, the construction schedule to be run from January to July 2019.
Rock and Slide area. Courtesy: TBG Partners.