Urban Design |
UTSOA Design Excellence Award
The focus of this studio was to explore the potential
of Austin’s urban fabric and develop a masterplan proposal
for a large portion of land known as the Brackenridge
Tract that sits adjacent to the downtown area.
As a studio, our initial research examined the potential
Professor: Juan Miro
Team: Nathan Sheperd
of denser, more urban housing: comparing the compact city model of Madrid to the landscape city model of Austin. Through different housing project research and seeing first hand the benefits of a dense urban core during a week-long travel experience to Madrid,
we applied the development strategies of both cities, proposing a solution that combined the best of both worlds. As much as the European city model is desirable in urban planning, we recognized that the growth of Austin as a lower density model integrated in nature
was what made it unique. Hence, the proposal uses a variety of density scales, becoming a natural transition from the quiet neighborhoods that surround the area.
The Brackendridge Fields proposal takes advantage of the Brackenridge Tract as an opportunity to support Austin’s larger urban trajectory. The proposal offers an expansive park for the city bordered with 34 blocks of mixed use development. This development
consists of dense living options and civic facilities that serve the University and local schools. Additionally, the scheme builds upon the existing traffic corridor providing an East-West connection while also envisioning the expansion of public transport through a new light rail corridor. Rather than treat the edges as a buffer zone, Brackenridge Fields sees this area as an opportunity to implement a prototypical solution to dramatic differences in urban density.
“As much as the European city model
is desirable in urban planning, we
recognized that the growth of Austin
as a lower density model (integrated in
nature) was what made it unique.”
The housing blocks follow the perimeter block model, maintaining a “hard” street network with “soft” pockets of interior courtyards. Green fingers alleviate the density, transforming a dense buffer into an urban filter. These routes facilitate access to the park in a way that integrates old with new and public with private, offering moments of pause and a smaller, more personal scale for people to enjoy. Throughout the design process we aimed to be sensitive to the existing conditions surrounding the site and in this way hoped to preserve the existing feel of the neighborhoods. The cross-section of the development transitions from house to high-rise in a matter of just four blocks. Following a progression of typologies, the density increases from townhomes to condominiums, residential mid-rises and high-rises. These high-rises define the edge of the park zone, while acting as a visual signal for new urban development. Ultimately, a new district is created that functions as an amenity for the whole city while maintaining the character of Austin with increased density.