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. Initial research done through the studio focused on comparing the Landscape City model adopted in Austin to the Compact City model seen throughout Europe, examining housing and development at the macro and neighborhood scales.
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. 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 hoping 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.