Located along the Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake, the Heron Creek Restroom responds to the unique conditions of its environment. The site is both field and forest, shaded by dappled light in the summer and graced with urban views through bare branches in the winter. Scaled to the surrounding landscape, the two structures are pulled apart and oriented to the axis of the solstice and the last stretch of Barton Creek across the lake. This alignment will screen the bustle of Cesar Chavez, frame views of kayaks on the water, and highlight changing patterns of light throughout the day. The dogtrot layout references a vernacular Texas building style and uses a traditional technique of capturing the prevailing breeze.
The buildings are a simple composition of raw steel and concrete that will patina over time. Subtle shifts in geometry differentiate the structures and give them a sense of personality. Large steel plates suspended on a light frame form the building shell. Grounded concrete walls enclose the buildings and are recessed to create porches beneath the steel. The open-air construction is indestructible and enduring while maintaining a sense of playfulness. The textured board-form concrete accentuates the passage of shadows across its surface, while the steel frame inside draws the eye up towards openings in the roof that allow for a view of the tree canopy and sky.
About the Architect
The structure was designed by Austinite, Mell Lawrence. Mell Lawrence Architects was voted 2001 AIA Austin Firm of the Year in recognition of its consistent design excellence. His work has been published extensively and been recognized with design awards at local, national, and state levels. In 2007, Mell was honored as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.