Xtreme LA: A Unique Design Challenge in Austin
We just returned after an intense 3 days in Austin, Texas with the Xtreme LA Challenge. This year’s event, co-hosted by LAF, Landscape Forms and the University of Texas at Austin, brought young professionals from around the country to Austin to work with UT graduate students on a design challenge with established leaders in the profession.
Susannah C. Drake, RLA, RA a principal at dlandstudio and Sarah Kuehl of Peter Walker and Partners led the two teams, which had a day-and-a-half to propose design solutions for an underutilized area along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake.
Austin City Councilmember Chris Riley and UT’s Dean Almy, a member of the Waterfront Planning Board charged with making recommendations to the City, presented an overview of the area, development challenges, and opportunities. The teams spent the following morning visiting both sides of the waterfront to get a feel for the site and its context. They then headed to the studio to vet ideas, hash out solutions, and develop materials to present in just over 24 hours.
The teams presenting their ideas the following afternoon to a packed audience that included representatives from the Waterfront Planning Board, Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, and the City Planning Commission, along with UT students and other interested stakeholders.
“The teams demonstrated the importance of the discipline of landscape architecture to the construction of quality of life in the urban environment,” said Dean Almy. “Each of the teams developed a very thorough analysis of the challenges that future development of the site is facing, and they were able to arrive at two very distinct and provocative solutions in a very short time frame. The presentations will be part of the Waterfront Board’s future deliberations on the future of the area.”
LAF sincerely thanks Landscape Forms and the University of Texas at Austin for all they did to organize this outstanding event. Now in its third year, the Xtreme LA program provides young leaders with a unique opportunity to meet and interact with seasoned professionals and peers from across the country. This year’s inclusion of students on the design teams added an extra layer of mentoring and learning opportunities.