The French Legation is the oldest wood-framed house in Austin, TX. This historic French-Creole style house was built in 1841 at the French Legation State Historic Site. Three additional buildings occupy the site: a kitchen, carriage house, and privy which were all built in the historic style and date from the 1960s and 70s. This 2.5 acre wooded site is the highest point in downtown Austin and offers sweeping views of the city. In 2017, the French Legation was transferred to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) along with $1.5 million for emergency structural maintenance. The project was later awarded a $250,000 heritage grant from the City of Austin, allowing for a second phase of construction. Studio Balcones collaborated with the THC and Hutson|Gallagher to complete a Master Plan for the property, and to design and administer the construction of improvements and enhancements of the first two phases. Studio Balcones helped renovate the existing facilities and design a new park, cafe and event space. These new outdoor spaces utilize reclaimed materials and will be open to the public for all to enjoy. Work Performed by Studio Balcones: Cost Estimation, Landscape Design, Lighting Design, and Project Manager overseeing all phases of design including Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents and Construction Observation.
Studio Balcones designed a new street-level garden and renovated existing garden areas along the San Antonio River Walk 1968 extension known as the San Antonio T, as part of the ongoing process of re-imagining the River Walk as a public art garden for its Tricentennial celebration.
The new San Antonio T public art garden features a combination of permanent public art works (Pedro Reyes, and Sebastian among others) and an initiative meant to bring public art to other districts of San Antonio through rotating and temporary installations. The proposed plan includes an innovative touring component that is meant to tie downtown San Antonio with districts and neighborhoods throughout the city. The garden plans builds upon the historic and iconic subtropical flora of San Antonio and the River Walk, and combines it with native plants of the region previously underutilized in the City for conserving irrigation water use and reducing maintenance.
The Richard Moya Eastside Bus Plaza is the new combined bus transfer station for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) and Capital Metro, bringing in people from Bastrop, Burnet, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, and Lee counties into Austin.
The goal of this project was to develop a hub for transportation and an enjoyable space for travelers and the surrounding community to use and enjoy. The site was previously an empty and flat, used as parking a lot for large trucks, and devoid of any ecological health. Through the design process, the team transformed this empty space into a vibrant ecological hub for people and wildlife, one that echoes the ecological history of the central Texas Blackland Prairie. CARTS is now SITES Silver Certified, and one of the first SITES Pre-Certified projects in Austin.
Austin Ridge Bible Church added a third building to its Southwest Austin Campus, creating the opportunity for a new courtyard at the nexus of the three buildings.
Working collaboratively with H+UO and the Advisory Committee, we developed the courtyard concept to fit the needs of a growing congregation. Also, as the site is in a more rural area, it was important that the planting design fit into the context of the Hill Country. The native planting palette highlights spring and fall seasonal color with golden grasses in the fall, flowering understory trees in the spring, and red berries in the winter.
The central feature is a deck which accommodates three existing heritage oaks, bridging over an ephemeral dry creek for stormwater management, and creating an accessible pathway between the main Sanctuary Building and the new 16,500 square foot Children & Student Ministry Building. This deck and the shade structure form the new heart of the Campus, allowing a place for the congregation to gather after worship services and to hold outdoor events or classes. Accessibility at this campus is extremely important as one of the main programs in the Ministry Building is Embrace – a resource center for families with children that have special needs.
Keystone, a private K-12 school, grew incrementally over the course of its 65-year history and now occupies a full block of former homes in San Antonio’s historic Monte Vista neighborhood.
Charged with reimagining a central quad created by the leftover backyards of the former residences, Studio Balcones and HiWorks Architecture collaborated with Keystone students, faculty, staff and administrators to develop a concept that was highly flexible, functional and exciting. The existing courtyard was an impervious asphalt space with little shade and a dilapidated carriage house. The new courtyard consists of a steel stepped amphitheater/outdoor classroom, with shade trees and drought tolerant plantings, backed by a large deck used for performances and everyday enjoyment. Educational components include rainwater harvesting, rain gardens and drought tolerant plantings.
The southern entrance to the University of Texas at Austin is marked with a new monument sign and landscape that will greet visitors and serve as a focal point against the backdrop of the Littlefield Fountain, the South Mall, and the Tower.
Limestone and granite benches echo the language of the University architecture, while the planting draws from the Central Texas landscape. The petite planting palette reflects the deep greens of the omnipresent Juniper trees and native golden grasses, translated into a grid of emerald agaves within a field of Grama grasses. In springtime, the space is further animated by the arrival of bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas.
In collaboration with the Trail Foundation, Studio Balcones designed a set of furnishings for rest, relaxation, and remembrance along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, locally known as the Boardwalk.
These were designed to harmoniously blend in with the surrounding built and natural environments and will be placed throughout the 1.2-mile Boardwalk for all to enjoy. Using reclaimed white oak trees collected by the City of Austin’s Urban Forestry program and fabricated by Hatch Workshop, these benches will be physical representations of Austin’s commitment to ecological restoration. Learn how to adopt a bench here.
The newly redesigned Student Activities Center Courtyard responds to the needs of the students while protecting and ensuring the longevity of the large oak and pecan trees across the site.
The outdoor plaza sits between two of UT’s most frequently used buildings, the Student Activities Center (SAC) and Gregory Gymnasium. The design includes a series of outdoor rooms, one of which is a multi-level deck that sits under two large pecan trees. The deck is surrounded by airy, shade tolerant plants that enhance the space and give the users the feeling they are floating in a sea of plants. The freshly planted entryway to the SAC is full of native grasses and flanked with benches and planters that were adapted from the existing fountains. As one continues through the site the space opens up into an outdoor lounge, with a student-designed Nido Nest, a circular structure that holds up to 8 hammocks. Surrounding the nest are rain gardens, which will help to prevent the space from flooding like it had in the past. The rain garden plantings were carefully selected to be low maintenance, aesthetically pleasing, and provide a sense of enclosure while still allowing for visibility and safety throughout the space.