Mary Elizabeth Branch Park is in the Mueller community, a mixed-income, mixed-use urban village located in Austin, Texas. From the outset, Branch Park sought to balance the best use of a small space with the diverse needs of the local community. The 3.5-acre park was designed to accommodate the various recreation needs of a multi-generational community. Opened in May 2019, Branch Park features a creative children’s playground, a dog run, two sand volleyball courts, an interactive waterscape, and a large open lawn space and shady areas for picnics. For Branch Park, SITES Certification was an important goal for Mueller’s master developer Catellus Development Corp., the City of Austin, Design Workshop, and the design and construction teams, who all collaborated on this effort. Below are key goals and strategies that contributed to the final design the park.
Supporting Sustainable Water Use:
The rain garden in Branch Park is lushly planted with native species that can tolerate dry summer months and the wet fall and spring seasons. The rain garden treats the majority of stormwater from the park site, allowing the stormwater to slow down and percolate into the soil before it goes into the city storm sewer system. This garden is a major feature in the park, separating the interactive waterscape from the lawn and playground areas.
Accommodating All Generations and Dogs:
Branch Park is designed to be multi-generational and multi-functional, considering the needs of empty nesters, young adults, teenagers, and young kids. At Branch Park, this included incorporating seating options, shaded areas, viewing gardens, open spaces conducive to informal games, and a playground. The park allows all community members to enjoy the space simultaneously. Additionally, the dog run allows for neighborhood dogs (and their owners) to interact with one another in a leash-free zone. Pet waste bags, disposal systems, and dog drinking fountains are supplied for convenience. Trees surrounding the dog run gives owners and their dogs a great spot in the park to enjoy throughout the year.
Integrating Interactive Waterscapes:
The interactive waterscape at Branch Park is woven seamlessly into the design, addressing any health and safety concerns and appealing to a wide age range to maximize use. The water seeps, sprays, and mists out of the stonework. Interactive buttons allow people to activate certain features. In the winter, when the water is shut off, this space becomes another plaza in the park, allowing for year-round use.
Images courtesy of Brandon Huttenlocher / Design Workshop, Inc.