The Austin Chronicle

Laguna Gloria to Get New Entrance

By Robert Faires, February 22, 2018, 2:31pm, All Over Creation

Start saying your goodbyes to the cramped, awkward approach to the Contemporary Austin's Laguna Gloria site. In a month, the museum will break ground on a project to transform the entry to its 14-acre lakeside home, adding sidewalks along 35th Street, a garden, an outdoor cafe, shade canopies, and, of course, art to make the site more welcoming.

The project constitutes Phase I of the Laguna Gloria site Master Plan, which has been in development since fall 2013. Massachusetts-based landscape architectural firm Reed Hilderbrand has been leading the design of the plan, which aims to rejuvenate the grounds around Clara Driscoll's beloved Italianate villa and the Art School for the museum that goes back to the days when it was called Laguna Gloria Art Museum. In addition to supporting the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, which currently features more than 20 site-specific works by contemporary artists of international reputation, the plan will remove invasive shrubs, vines, and trees throughout the property and work to preserve the site's heritage trees and native plants; add architectural structures to establish a more inviting entryway to the property, including welcome pavilions, shaded orientation and gathering spaces, a cafe and visitor center with an art-filled design shop, and an arrival garden; and reconfigured parking along 35th Street with pedestrian enhancements that include sidewalks, new landscaping, and artworks (one of them a sculptural installation by noted artist Jessica Stockholder). The Master Plan has already been recognized with an award of excellence from the Boston Society of Architects.

A plan this ambitious takes a village, as they say, and in this case, that includes New Orleans firm Trahan Architects, which is designing the new entryway structures (with a minimalist flavor); local contractor Beck Group, which will build them; Benz Resource Group, which will manage the project; the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is partnering on the invasive species removal; the City of Austin Neighborhood Partnering Program, which will assist in the development of the 35th Street sidewalks and parking improvements; the Moody Foundation, which provided a $3 million grant (for which the entryway pavilions will be named the Moody Pavilions); and a host of other area foundations and individual donors who collectively provided another $3 million.

Groundbreaking on Phase I will take place Wed., March 21, at 10am, and will be open to the public. Museum leaders and City of Austin officials will make remarks. Phase I is expected to be complete in about a year. for more information, visit the Contemporary Austin website.

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