By Andrew Basha
Architecture Design Intermediate 4 | Nichole Wiedemann
The Traverse urban strategy for the corridor formerly known as I-35 proposes arterial landscapes for both people and wildlife in an effort to return downtown Austin—Waller Creek and the future Waterloo Greenway—to the historically marginalized communities of East Austin and subsequentially rekindle the urbanite’s relationship with nature. Located on the southmost end of the masterplan, the site is the confluence of pedestrian and bike paths connecting to Palm Park and a four-lane boulevard that dips below grade into a tunnel. Situated at the intersection of these circulation routes, a proposed eight-story residential complex rises out of the terrain shared by Palm Park to its west and abutted by a quiet neighborhood to the east. Balancing the need for proximal cultural and natural habitats, the building and land are shaped together to respond to the natural resources—wind, water, sun and earth—of Central Texas. While the building accommodates 76 living units, residential amenities and commercial programs in 130,000 SF, the structure is articulated to provide unexpected plateaus, crevasses, wetlands, coves and cliffs, providing distinct habitats for pollinators, urban burrowing birds, and native fish as well as native plant species. By embracing ecological processes in the urban environment (urban ecology), Traverse and URBAN COVE are an infusion of nature in the city aiming to raise awareness of the local and global biotic context in which people exist.