Designing a Community: Revitalization in the Waller Creek Conservancy

Theresa Saad

The FBI ranked Austin as the second-safest major city in the U.S. for the year 2012. However, with the rapid renovation and expansion of its metropolitan area, “downtown Austin” now includes the newly gentrified area of “East Austin.” This area was previously separated from downtown by Waller Creek and I-35, an often flooded creek and a large North-South Freeway. With the renovation of this neighborhood, a new need for the connection of these major urban areas has been made apparent.

MapA proposed master plan for zoning of the new construction along Waller Creek. My proposed "Narrows Districts" lies within the 3rd yellow outline.

The area surrounding Waller Creek not only needs to be examined in order to protect the river and monitor its environmental impacts on Lake Austin (renamed Lady Bird Lake in 2007 to honor Texas Legend, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson), but to create an educational, safe, welcoming, and walkable connection between the surrounding neighborhoods.

MapProposed Waller Delta and Pontoon Bridge near the mouth of Lake Austin

By​ studying sustainability from both the environmental and social perspective, and focusing in on the needs of both the environment and the residents that inhabit it, Waller Creek can be not only a beautiful greenbelt park winding through downtown, creating a healthy ecosystem and a relaxing green oasis within easy walking distance of the busy urban world, but also a thriving urban neighborhood. This urban neighborhood development and overall creek and city master plan require guidelines that promote sustainability and further enhance the lifestyle planned around and within downtown Austin, Texas.

The guidelines in my capstone are for sustainable creekfront development along Waller Creek, intended for the designers of the Waller Creek Conservancy Master Plan and Proposal. They will help to promote not only environmentally friendly and healthy living habits, but encourage social equity, diversity, community use and involvement, and connectivity between Austin neighborhoods.