UT Austin’s new Liberal Arts Building was a design collaboration between Co’design and Overland Partners Architects.
Given the site’s premier location adjacent to Waller Creek and at the gateway to the East Mall, the landscape design weaves together the more fluid concepts of a riparian corridor with the more rigid grid of the UT Campus. A key design strategy was to blur the lines between inside and outside. Landscape courtyards and green roof spaces directly relate to interior gathering spaces and provide exterior garden-like settings for building users. An ipe boardwalk connecting courtyards treads lightly on the landscape giving spatial priority to a rich and texturally diverse plant palette. Glass panels terminate key visual axes. Representing the color of Austin’s river waters at different times of day, the panels serve as “waterless” water features.
The project, however, is more than just a visual amenity — it is a “working landscape” with LEED Gold accreditation. Green roofs, permeable paving, and filtering gardens, clean and minimize storm water run-off into Waller Creek. The landscape features a predominantly native Texas plant palette and a “first-ever” introduction of native turf grass to the UT Campus–implemented in collaboration with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Irrigation systems are designed to tap into the City of Austin’s reclaimed water lines and are monitored by UT’s centralized irrigation system for maximum water use efficiency.
ASLA Merit Award, Texas, 2014
Drawings provided by Overland Partners Architects.