Floating Art Honors Community and Collaboration

18 May 2022
Image © The Trail Foundation


The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is an extremely vital and special place in the heart of downtown Austin. Due to its natural aesthetic, proximity to the lake in an urban setting, and what it offers the community, it has become a highly personal and beloved space to its users. The Trail Foundation (TTF) is partnering with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) and the City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program to prepare an Arts + Culture Plan for the Butler Trail to contribute to the space and elevate the user experience, while not overwhelming, distracting, or complicating the environment.

“The Trail Foundation’s mission is to protect, enhance, and connect the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake for the benefit of all,” explains Charlotte Tonsor, Capital Projects Director for TTF. “We work in cooperation with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to close the gap between what the City provides and what the Trail deserves.” This work includes capital projects, ecological restoration, and public engagement opportunities on the Trail.

As a part of Arts+Culture on the Trail, TTF is seeking to not only enhance user experience but increase diversity through relevant art and cultural attractions. One of these recent initiatives is Common Waters: A Demonstration Project for the Butler Trail and Lady Bird Lake.

Three local artists were selected to collaborate, design, and install an art installation on Lady Bird Lake. The installation explores themes of community, creativity, environment, and collaboration, and will incorporate artistic components as well as ecological function.

“The Trail Foundation is honored to work with talented local artists and our project partners to bring this unique installation to life on Lady Bird Lake and celebrate its unveiling with the community. We look forward to bringing more arts and cultural activities to the Trail to enhance the user experience with guidance from the Arts + Culture Plan in the future,” adds Tonsor.

Courtesy of The Trail Foundation

Walter P Moore’s Water Resources team provided computer models of the river showing that the proposed project will not have an impact on flood heights and water surface elevations on Lady Bird Lake. “We completed an HEC-RAS model and performed calculations about the strength of the anchors holding the wetlands in place,” explains Kelly Dillard, Managing Director for Water Resources in Dallas. Calculations and models were submitted to the City of Austin for approval so that the wetlands installation could be permitted for construction.

Common Waters was unveiled on May 14th during a three-part event celebration. Attendees were invited to participate in installing the project on the water and then spend the day watching the creation make its way down Lady Bird Lake while enjoying other activities in the area.

“We feel privileged to be part of this important project that highlights the natural beauty of the Austin community,” Dillard adds. “We are glad to have an opportunity to use our skills to enhance the quality of life by providing technical details in support of this artistic addition.”

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