AIPP and the Alliance Children’s Garden in Butler Park

by Larry Akers

Friends of the Parks of Austin Stakeholder, Town Lake Park Community Project

One of the issues we will be facing in the planning process is guidance on the planning and design of the Alliance Children’s Garden. The garden has long been planned for the area immediately south of the Liz Carpenter Fountain and was to have been built out as a component of the Butler Park project. The reason the garden remains underdeveloped above its ground plane is the action of the artist group originally chosen by the City’s Art in Public Places (AIPP) program to participate in the garden’s design.

Here I will go into some of the history of the AIPP Program in Town Lake Park and its impact on the park’s development. I will also offer some thoughts on direction for the garden’s design, the goal being to realize a park component that culturally, intellectually, and physically enriches our children and the whole community.

Incidentally, the Alliance Children’s Garden was so named by City Council to recognize the enormous contribution of the Town Lake Park Alliance’s work in the 1980’s. A capsule account of their work has been placed on the master plan’s history web page. The very existence of this park is owed exclusively to that group’s volunteer work.

AIPP was granted a 2% slice of the construction budget for the Palmer Events Center (PEC) and first two phases of Town Lake Park construction. Aside from the artworks it funded for the PEC building, including art features embedded in the building, its efforts were concentrated on the park development. This resulted in three primary work products:

  1. an arts master plan for the park featuring programmatic requirements for artwork placements and a vision for the Dougherty Arts Center (DAC),
  2. design by New York artist Robert Lipski for a centerpiece fountain in the park
  3. after landscape architecture firm TBG Partners solicited AIPP to participate, design of a Children’s Garden to be constructed northeast of the DAC and designs for artworks therein.

These elements were all presented in

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