The 84-acre Pease Park, recognized as Austin’s first park, serves as a green retreat for residents as well as a buffer between downtown and the sprawling neighborhoods along the banks of Shoal Creek. This project is a critical component of the city’s plan for revitalizing the park’s southernmost tip and has transformed an underused historic building into a thriving event space that reinforces the park’s role in gathering people and connecting them to place.
The team’s design weaves together existing vegetation with a robust program of new amenities that include event rental spaces, restrooms, natural playgrounds, a basketball court, and an interactive water feature that cleverly references the Texas Hill Country’s karst limestone aquifers. Existing features, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps-era picnic tables and the park’s historic Tudor Cottage, were preserved to showcase the park’s rich history.
This is a strong, consistent project that is well-integrated into the site and navigates the landscape well. – Jury comment
Originally built in the 1920s, the Tudor Cottage was among the first facility buildings constructed in this section of the park. From its spot on a bluff that overlooks the southern end of the park, the cottage originally functioned as a restroom. After renovation by the team, it is now a perfectly situated event space adjacent to other park activities. Inside, interior walls were removed to transform the space into a single room that is enhanced by the vaulted ceiling. A new glazed opening that faces north connects the space to a large terrace where visitors can look over the park.
Not far from the cottage on the park’s western edge, two new buildings, a restroom and storage building, are tucked into the slope of the hill and clad with steel mesh for ivy to climb along. The team selected a muted material palette of board-formed concrete and steel that will develop a striking patina with time. Additional amphitheater-style seating was built into the hillside, forming an ideal spot to organize volunteer workdays or for visitors to rest in the shade.
Tying the project together is a low ribbon-like limestone wall that unifies the numerous outdoor elements as it snakes through the park. Depending on the elevation, the wall steps up and down, alternating as seating, steps up the hillside, or a band that runs flush with the sidewalk. It also morphs into the water feature that attracts the park’s youngest visitors in the summer.
Kingsbury Commons at Pease Park
Architecture firm: Clayton Korte
Owner: Pease Park Conservancy
Location: Austin, Texas
Project site: Previously developed
Building program type(s): Public assembly – recreation
Year of substantial project completion: 2021
Gross conditioned floor area: 0 sq. ft.
Landscape Architect / Prime Consultant: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
Engineer – Civil: Garza EMC
Engineer – MEP: Jerry Garza & Associates
Engineer – Structural: Architectural Engineers Collaborative
Lighting Designer: Studio Lumina
Graphics and Wayfinding: Page/Dyal
Water Feature: GPSI
General Contractor: Harvey-Cleary Builders
Photography: Casey Dunn
AIA and it’s Small Project Design (SPD) Knowledge Community present the annual Small Project Award Program to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects provide regardless of the limits of size and budget.
Submissions are welcome in four categories:
- Category one: Small project construction, object, work of environmental art or architectural design element up to $250,000 in construction cost
- Category two: Small project construction up to $2.5 million in construction cost
- Category three: Small project construction, object, work of environmental art or architectural design under 5,000 square feet
- Category four: Unbuilt project award: any unbuilt design that meets any of the category requirements above. This award is for projects that will not be built in the future (speculative work, conceptual work, competition work, student work, etc.)
In 2023, only recipients from Categories 2 and 3 won awards.
The jury evaluates entries based on how successfully projects meet their individual requirements. Entries are judged individually—not in competition with each other.
All projects must demonstrate design achievement, including how the project fits into its environment and how the project connects to the Framework for Design Excellence.
- Open to all architects, designers and projects that meet our category criteria below. Additionally, the U.S.-licensed architect must be a major contributor on the project.
- Built projects must have been completed after January 1, 2017.
- There is no requirement for professional photography.
- Any size firm may submit a project.
- Maximum of four entries per firm—(a single project may be entered in two different categories with applicable fees for each entry).
Chandra Robinson, AIA, Chair, LEVER Architecture, Portland, Ore.
Madhubala Ayyamperumal, Assoc. AIA, Gensler, Oakland, Calif.
Chris Baribeau, AIA, Modus Studio, Fayetteville, Ark.
David Corban, AIA, David Corban Architects, Naples, Fla.
Katherine Hogan, AIA, Katherine Hogan Architects, Raleigh, N.C.