The Zilker Park Trailhead Restrooms are situated at Austin’s Violet Crown Trailhead, a stone’s throw from iconic Barton Springs and adjacent to the Hillside Theater. The design team had to carefully maneuver through numerous challenges on it’s way to a successful completion including extensive environmental and regulatory restrictions, a robust public outreach initiative, and construction during the earliest stages of the COVID-19 19 pandemic.
The design reflects the building’s iconic setting in Zilker Park and tells the story of Barton Springs and the surrounding hill country. The walls are composed of monolithic slabs of rough faced lueders limestone with azure colored glass panels spanning the gaps between the stone. This symbolizes the water that trickles between the limestone layers before bursting forth at the springs, and also provides air circulation and dramatic lighting both inside and outside the building.
The roof is a monolithic post tensioned concrete slab providing a clean, no maintenance surface. It is supported by concrete piers with corten steel ‘branches’ at the top as if it were a tree canopy. The corten steel will rust up to a point and then stop, providing a maintenance free surface with a color and patina matching the rough cut limestone. The roof is tilted to direct water to a single point where it spills into a perforated steel ‘shower head’ positioned over a ‘splash rock’ to create a celebration of water during rain events. Perforated metal panels span the gap between the top of the stone panels and the roof, providing visual privacy while still allowing for maximum air circulation. The perforated panels also provide for natural lighting during the day and dramatic backlighting after dark.
Overall, the design was successful in providing a facility that is low maintenance, appropriate to it’s setting, and engaging to its users.