Students and faculty from the School of Architecture and McCombs School of Business will advance understanding of the convention center’s role in contributing to a vibrant and inclusive downtown and assess opportunities for renovation and expansion.
This spring and summer, the School of Architecture’s Center for Sustainable Development will investigate the physical and economic implications of a number of urban planning scenarios for the Austin Convention Center as part of a city-funded initiative. A multidisciplinary team comprised of graduate students and faculty from the School of Architecture and McCombs School of Business will lead the study, authorized by Austin City Council. Their research and analysis will help inform the Council’s decisions regarding the future of the Convention Center.
The $250,000 project is spurred by the question, “Can new, programmatic spatial configurations and economic models for urban convention centers be applied to downtown Austin in a meaningful and community-based manner?” and will consider how space-making for the Convention Center can become placemaking for downtown Austin. The team will evaluate new spatial configurations as well as opportunities and threats presented by mixed-use development, public versus private investment, financing frameworks, and other factors to determine how the Austin Convention Center might be reimagined, delivering a report in Fall 2018.
"This cooperative project is a testament to the trust that has developed between the City of Austin and the School of Architecture and will demonstrate the unique abilities and comprehensive breadth that the disciplines of the built environment bring to the table," remarked Dean Michelle Addington. "Research initiatives such as this one advance the school’s enduring interest in the agency of the design process and its commitment to the local community."
Austin City Council approved the resolution in late December by a 10-0 vote, with Council Member Ellen Troxclair away from the dais. The resolution was sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo.
“The City is looking forward to working with the University on this planning study, and we are excited to have the Center for Sustainable Development’s expertise in evaluating and assessing various options for the Convention Center from a placemaking perspective,” remarked Greg Canally, Interim Chief Financial Officer for the City of Austin.
The study is an important step to increase understanding of the roles the Convention Center may embrace to better serve its audiences and environment, and will assist the City in determining the best path forward to advance Austin’s long-term municipal, community, and economic goals.
Centered on a mission to lead the study and practice of sustainable development in Texas and beyond, the Center for Sustainable Development at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture is committed to research, education, and community outreach programs that bring together diverse perspectives and highlight the interconnected nature of sustainable design. The Center works to present creative, balanced, and achievable solutions to challenges facing the planning, construction, and preservation of buildings, neighborhoods, and regions by examining the relationship between environment, economic prosperity, and social justice.
The project team includes:
Dean Almy, PI, Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design, School of Architecture
Carmen Garufo, Lecturer, School of Architecture
Greg Hallman, Lecturer, Department of Finance, McCombs School of Business
Patrick Murray, MBA Candidate, McCombs School of Business
Valentina Scalia, Master of Science in Urban Design student, School of Architecture
Allan Shearer, PhD, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Sustainable Development, School of Architecture
Kirsten Stray-Gundersen, Master of Architecture First Professional student, School of Architecture
Jose Valenzuela, Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning student, School of Architecture
Jake Wegmann, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture
Sarah Wu, Program Coordinator, Center for Sustainable Development, School of Architecture