Found on the busy commerce corridor, the South Congress Great Room is an outdoor space that puts a focus on the importance of incorporating civic recreation spaces as Austin experiences a large period of growth.
As South Congress Avenue becomes more popular, it becomes more inconvenient to live in the surrounding neighborhoods. Residents here make less than the average Texan, but own homes worth 15% more. In addition, 9% of the homes in this area were on the market compared to 2% of all homes in Texas. These statistics show that although property values have risen, the desirability of living within this district has fallen due to the crowding of locals and tourists alike.
The South Congress Great Room is meant to be a civic gift to the residents of these neighborhoods – an opportunity to reclaim part of this busy corridor as theirs, acting as their own outdoor living space. The idea of the South Congress backyard is amplified by the three programmed spaces found on the site: the hammock pavilion, community garden and fire pit. Each of these represent the traditional backyard programs of hammocks, gardening and grilling, respectively.
The main entrance to the Great Room lies on the northwest corner as a large earthen ramp allows entry from the secluded James Street. Along South Congress Avenue, the ivy covered wall of San Jose Hotel continues with a small entrance found on the northeast corner of the site. This is meant to reinforce the idea that this space serves the South Congress neighborhood with visitors to Austin invited in as guests.