A New Sculpture Garden for Austin’s Laguna Gloria

Boston-based landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand is expanding its Texas portfolio and leading the re-imagination of The Contemporary Austin’s historic Laguna Gloria site. Situated along Lake Austin in the Tarrytown neighborhood, Laguna Gloria is home to the 1916 Driscoll Villa and its surrounding gardens. The Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park redesign will provide a much-needed space for the display of contemporary art and an overdue facelift for the gardens. 

Reed Hilderbrand, working in collaboration with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Urban Design Group, has been charged with re-imagining the 12-acre site along the water’s edge. Principal-in-charge Chris Moyles notes that, though the team is only beginning the concept phase, they are already planning to take full advantage of the site’s dualities. The design will promote an open interpretation of art placement on the grounds — not excluding in the water. “We want to shape a landscape that expresses the unique cultural and ecological layers of the site and creates diverse experiences for making and viewing sculpture,” noted Moyles. 

The project will tackle rehabilitating Laguna Gloria’s diverse ecology, which is nearly overrun by invasive species. Two initial concepts for the site master plan explore placing connected boardwalks throughout the gardens. The walkways would only lightly touch the surfaces below and link existing garden spaces to a currently inaccessible small inlet.  

Programming at the site will continue as the team works toward an early 2015 goal for final design concepts. Recent works by British artist Liam Gillick and New York-based artists Marianne Vitale and Orly Genger are now on view on the grounds.  

The images in this article are expanded content for the July/August 2014 issue of Texas Architect.