What’s possible leads to ordinary results; what’s impossible leads to the extraordinary. The 823 Congress Avenue pocket patio creates a landmark urban activation and pedestrian gathering space in downtown Austin through the conversion of parking spaces into a pocket park. Brought to life with two adjacent food trucks, the space is active throughout the day and night and has dramatically enhanced the cadence and vitality of the street.
dwg. was challenged to create a signature moment for the street frontage of the 823 Congress Avenue office tower that was more characteristic of downtown Austin’s fast-growing, forward-thinking office market. The pocket patio relocated and resolved a previously non-compliant ADA parking space and transformed four street parking spaces into vital greenspace. The space introduces gathering and outdoor dining opportunities that are elegantly delineated with a signature “ribbon” wall that strategically meanders along the street, framing new native plants that sit below several existing trees.
Comprised of 20 parametrically designed precast sections, the “ribbon” was meticulously shaped to undulate both up-and-down and side-to-side to create a scaled hierarchy of spaces as well as an interesting and dynamic form that passers-by would be attracted to. The planting bed was also designed to react to and contribute to the shape of the wall, working in unison to hide some of the lower stretches, but reveal taller peaks of the wall. No two segments are the same and the element is different when viewed from any angle or direction.
By removing impervious materials the patio has proven stormwater management benefits where the new planting areas intercept forty times more stormwater than the original site conditions. A native plant palette and no dependence on permanent automatic irrigation demonstrates how resilient, beautiful and practical native, drought-resistant plants can be in the urban landscape. Additionally, pocket patio addressed the critical lack of soil volume for the existing street trees by increasing quality, uncompacted soil volume for the two existing trees by over twenty-five times. By utilizing an air-spade to prevent root damage, the pavement was removed and replaced with a continuous, custom-blended soil trench from tree to tree to increase soil volume, reduce compaction, enhance biological function and significantly reduce the impervious cover.
823 Congress pocket patios significantly improves the environmental performance along Austin’s “Main Street”, demonstrates the beauty of green infrastructure and creates a more socially inclusive and equitable pedestrian space within the urban fabric.
The 823 Congress Avenue pocket patio creates a landmark gathering space through the transformation of a previously unremarkable urban corner and demonstrates the role of exceptional civic spaces that enhance the character and identity of their urban environment.
823 Congress Pocket Patio
Location: Austin, TX – United States of America
Client: Brickman Real Estate
Landscape architect and Prime consultant: dwg.
Landscape Contractor: Strata
Precast ribbon wall: Tectura
Photography: Adam Barbe