Brakenridge Park. Courtesy City of San Antonio.
This article by Raj Mankad was originally published by The Dirt on March 21, 2017. Follow Rice Design Alliance‘s publications and events about living in floodplains at #H2Ouston and #SyntheticNature.
San Antonio’s historic downtown is the main draw for a tourism industry with a $13 billion impact. The history is about as thick as it gets for a U.S. city, but its commodification has taken a toll. For example, just up the steps from the Rainforest Café on the Riverwalk, the Alamo faces off with Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Madame Toussaud’s Waxworks. Follow the San Antonio river downstream for eight miles, though, and you encounter modest, centuries-old missions in serene, almost rural settings. And if you follow the river three miles upstream, you find Brackenridge Park, a hard-working 343-acre city park packed with locals.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) held its third Leading with Landscape conference in San Antonio, and, unlike the first two iterations of the series in Toronto and Houston, the event focused on a single site — Brackenridge Park. Landscape architects and local leaders, including Mayor Ivy Taylor, focused on the park itself or presented examples relevant to the discussion of its past and future. More than 400 attendees were drawn to the Pearl Stable, a brick barn built in 1894 and converted to a theater.
Looking towards downtown in Pease Park, along the banks of Shoal Creek. Photo: Leonid Furmansky.
This article by Jack Murphy is the second of a two-part series on flood management. Read the previous article here. Follow our publications and events about living in the floodplain at #H2Ouston and #SyntheticNature.
These days, Shoal Creek starts artificially: Its headwaters, a mix of runoff and piped spring water, gather in manmade holding ponds above US Highway 183 before arriving into a ditch south of the frontage road. The creek flows, undetected, behind shops on Anderson Lane, through backyards and parks in Allandale, and next to Seton Medical Center before running alongside Lamar Boulevard. Downtown, its shores are lined with condominiums and the construction sites for future condominiums. Its waters pass Austin’s new central public library designed by Lake Flato and Shepley Bulfinch — almost open — prior to joining the Colorado River.
Shoal Creek, 14.3 miles in length including tributaries, constitutes a core sectional cut of central Austin. Like at Waller Creek, citizens are working to spur progress that will improve flood control, public trails, public parks, and historic awareness. But Shoal Creek advocates hope to use very different tools to accomplish their goals.