Floating the Waller
by Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
This portion of Waller Creek, like many urbanized water systems, flows with trash and pollutants, making it unfit for recreation or even human contact. Floating the Waller’s goal, therefore, is not only to create a beautiful display that turns the creek into a destination instead of something to avoid, but also to bring the issue of the creek’s pollution to the awareness of residents.
Floating the Waller plays off the popular activity of floating the river, the epitome of water recreation culture in central Texas. The field of empty inner tubes symbolizes the disconnect between the desire to interact with the water and an aversion to do so in this environment. Engaging the water itself is key to bringing awareness to the creek’s health. In addition to creating an installation that sits on and interacts with the water’s surface, it is also best experienced from the vantage point of the creek level. The network of tubes also creates the possibility of accumulating trash from the surface of the creek throughout its duration, and the provision of trash receptacles as part of the installation encourages visitors to actively participate in keeping Waller Creek clean.
by Clay Odom, Assoc. AIA, Associate Professor of Architecture at UT
Clay Odom, Lead Designer and Fabrication
Clay Odom engages the Waller Creek site and people through the development of strange yet recognizable forms and materials and through the production of atmospheric effects. The Phantasm is an ephemeral presence and theatrical character that draws attention, promotes curiosity, and provokes engagement.
The project interacts directly with three particular aspects of its site (as both context and concepts) just south of the 6th Street bridge. 1. The Water (linearity, fluidity, and atmosphere) 2. The Wall (structure and verticality) 3. The Pedestrian Bridge (people and place). These direct interactions with the conceptual and physical as ‘natural’ states of the site provide moments for formal strangeness while also grounding the project in its place while temporarily remaking it.
Fundamentally, the project desires to critically engage in the notion of physical and spatial characteristics that are central to the development of Waller Creek’s present and future. Here we understand the site of Waller Creek as a generator of questions regarding nature and landscape, or more precisely, the natural and the artificial. Through its formal and material character, Waller Phantasm both stands-out from the existing conditions while also exhibiting tendencies toward merging and linking with it. The designed object exhibits potential for spatial occupation but is only occupiable through imagination, inviting speculation and wonder.
by Luke Savisky
Luke Savisky, Interactive Video Artist
Paige Swift, Production Manager
Connections, passages, and personal transitions are explored in this dynamic large-scale projection, under and through the 7th-Street bridge over Waller Creek. Audience interaction, contemplation, reflection, and display will play a part in this intimate section of Creek Show, bringing a bit of magic to a forgotten space—which speaks to the promise of the revitalization of Waller Creek.
As viewers approach and pass through the bridge tunnel, they will interact with a live camera and be projected and distorted through ethereal layered imagery onto its rough curved stonework. An alchemical blend of life and shadow, AT/x will echo the flora along the creek bed and fauna within the darkness of the tunnel itself, reflecting the dimension beyond the surface and opening the possibility of a perceptual and psychological shift within this haunting transitional space.
The Natural Unnatural
by Clark | Richardson Architects
April Clark, AIA
Production: John Vesel
A hidden network of inlets, storm drains, and ultimately the Waller Creek tunnel project are unnatural controls creating a city-wide water displacement grid. This concealed system seeks to control the natural processes of torrential rainstorms allowing for our habitation of this flood-prone area. Flowing water can be graceful and seductive but it can also be grotesque and terrifying. Perspective defines how we see this relationship and as we alter the built landscape this perspective changes.
The Natural Unnatural aims to make visible this tenuous relationship between the natural chaos of water in an impervious urban environment during a large rain event, and the structured unnatural order of the manmade devices attempting to contain and direct it. The scale of the Waller Creek tunnel project is staggering and largely invisible. Once complete, this underground tunnel system will carry 3.7 million gallons of water a minute, displacing rain in a flood event from the surrounding 28 acres of land in Central Austin. This displacement project will allow for Austin to engage this central creek in ways not previously possible.
The Natural Unnatural highlights the flabbergasting scale of this endeavor. The sphere, simple and pure, a manmade geometry represents the controls of the tunnel system. At the size of a person the sphere presents a scale index of the tunnel volume. Making the invisible understandable and bringing the chaos to light.
by Specht Harpman Architects
Lead Designer: Scott Specht, AIA
Design / production team: Jakeb Novak, AIA
Mary Stuckert, Assoc. AIA
Brett Wolfe, Assoc. AIA
Michael Yarinsky, Assoc. AIA
Renderings: Alec Herskowitz
Pump systems: Michael Menghini
Aquatic Features & Landscapes, Inc
Steel fabrication: DSNxMFG
The current physical state of Waller Creek is the product of unpredictability. It has been walled, bridged, channeled, and diverted in an attempt to control flood events that occur on a very sporadic basis. Most of the time, the flow of water is so benign as to be barely noticeable, yet the occasional flood events are intense enough to warrant the extreme physical interventions that have been undertaken (and are still underway).
Volume reflects this intermittent ferocity of Waller Creek. Volume refers not only to the increased quantity of water that occurs during a flood event, but also the heightened sonic and physical effects that accompany it.
In the installation, a gentle flow of water continuously falls from a 80-foot steel channel suspended above the creek. Lighting rakes the limestone wall behind, and highlights the individual droplets falling in against it. It is a serene, pleasantly benign part of the Creek Show nightscape. On random occasions, however, the volume increases dramatically and the flow becomes a cascade. The calm background sound of the flowing water becomes a torrential foreground element, and the lighting changes to an ominous glow from beneath the creek. These heightened-volume events last only a short time, and the tableau quickly returns to its peaceful state.