An earlier master plan prepared for the City of Austin proposed the transformation of 2nd Street from a collector road to a pedestrian-dominant street linking important civic destinations: the Austin Convention Center, Austin City Limits music venue, City Hall, and future mixed-use developments. A cohesive urban design would support emergent retail, residential, hotel, and cultural developments. Several traffic lanes were redesigned as continuous streetscapes with generous sidewalks, street trees, special paving, and site furnishings.
Resource Design (now Topio) served as local consultant to CWDG of Boston for design and construction documents to guide implementation of the master plan’s vision along 14 block faces in the project area. Our work included contributing to preliminary design and construction documents, coordinating with civil engineers to integrate the streetscape design with complex utility and drainage considerations, advising the public art selection committee, and facilitating public agency approvals.
Rich details and public art elements integrated into the streetscape express unique local character and history, provide interim points along the corridor, and help establish the 2nd Street District as a cultural destination. The hot, dry conditions at project onset inspired the art consultant to establish water as the theme for public art during the initial design phase. Installations in the paving by local artists express some aspect of a Texas river at the intersection with the north-south cross-street that bears its name. A major piece of sculpture marks the central intersection at 2nd Street and Congress Avenue. A composition of Texas river rocks was selected by the landscape architects for the non-walkable surface required between accessibility ramps.
A series of private developments implemented most of the streetscape improvements over the next several years, with remaining parcels completed by the city. The photos shown illustrate the immensely successful oasis that 2nd Street has become, due to the combined efforts of a multitude of contributors in both public and private sectors.