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Waller Creek sneaks its way through Austin, winding through the University of Texas and slipping past the nearby statehouse, eventually ending up in Lady Bird Lake at the edge of downtown. For much of its run, Waller Creek is hidden and underutilized. But for more than a decade, groups led by the Waller Creek Conservancy have been rallying to connect it to surrounding neighborhoods and make it a more cohesive part of the city. With the recent completion of a high-profile competition, a renewed Waller Creek is a lot closer to reality.
In October, the conservancy announced the winners of its international design competition: Landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and architects Thomas Phifer and Partners. Their design for the creek reimagines the waterway as a means to connect the city, linking two halves of Austin currently divided by an interstate highway. The design improves access by widening its path and shoreline, and features a jungle-like lattice of footbridges over the water. For Austin, it represents a guiding way toward weaving the creek back into the fabric of the city.
Nate Berg is a writer and journalist covering cities, architecture and urban planning. Nate’s work has been published in a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times, NPR, Wired, Metropolis, Fast Company, Dwell, Architect, the Christian Science Monitor, LA Weekly and many others. He is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities and was previously an assistant editor at Planetizen.