From Uvalde up to Waco, so-called Flash Flood Alley follows the curve of the Balcones Escarpment, straddling two Eco regions, the Edwards Plateau and the Blackland Prairie. This geologic fault zone ostensibly divides West from East, cattle from cotton, rock from dirt, cowboy from farmer, and so on. Here, many springs, including our beloved Barton Springs, erupt from the surface, marking the Edwards Aquifer below. Conversely, in this region, the rivers flow from the hills down to the gulf.
“The Hill Country is karst terrain, so it’s limestone that tends to erode in beautiful ways, but along with that beauty you get thin soils, hard surfaces and steep hills, and that all serves to funnel rainfall very quickly into restricted valleys.” (Dr. Robert Mace, TWDB Water Science and Conservation) While the Blackland Prairie has an abundance of clay–rich soils, which also contribute to low infiltration and high run off of water. The efficient drainage combined with intense rainfall events, makes for one of the most flood-prone regions on the continent.
Utilizing a ‘real’ project situated squarely in this flood-prone region, the studio will embrace the notion of CIRCUMSTANCE – things that condition or determine another– in order to better understand how the context (site) can condition, influence, and/or determine design.
Given the significant ecological concerns, the studio will collaborate with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; a research unit of the School of Architecture that "brings research, education and application to the design and planning of healthy landscapes and ecosystems.” (wildflower.org) In doing so, we will use a LBJWC project that is currently under construction, which consists of approximately 16 acres that served the New Braunfels Utilities since the 1940’s. While the specific program is open to some interpretation, the primary intent is to restore and rehabilitate the site as “a place to enhance the community’s connection to nature.” (Master Plan Report, LBJWC) Associating with the Wildflower Center and the other design professionals involved, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects and Lake|Flato, will provide a rare underpinning to an architecture studio with access to site research and background, diverse knowledge sets, client and community perspectives, and, moreover, professionals in the field.