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Design wizards plot pop-up plaza on Congress this weekend

Free event will explore transforming urban public space

A bridge leading to downtown Austin
Congress Avenue, looking north
Wikimedia Commons

Walkabouts, story tours, and a pop-up plaza at Congress Avenue and Barton Springs road are all part of a free, family-friendly event this weekend designed to engage citizens of our fair burg with the transformation and expansion of our public urban spaces—in this case, Congress Avenue in particular.

Transform!, which takes place June 2 and 3, is part of collaborative project between the city and the Downtown Austin Alliance called Our Congress Avenue. Funded by the city’s 2012 bond program, the Congress Avenue Design Initiative is meant to celebrate and enhance the city’s “main ceremonial street,” as the site puts it, enhancing its function as “a grand boulevard” and “a distinctive place that we encourage people to go to, not just pass through.” (The term “Main Street of Texas” is also in the mix.)

The initiative is a critical part of the Downtown Austin Plan, and the city has contracted with urban design consultants to help shape the plan for the stretch of Congress Avenue from the Capitol to Riverside Drive. In the upcoming nine months, city and involved groups will get input via focused meetings and public events.

The latter is where this weekend’s Transform! event comes in. It will feature design labs, walkabouts, and history tours all along the street, as well as Pop-Up Plaza park at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Barton Springs Road June 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sponsored by AIA Austin’s Urban Design Committee and Emerging Professionals group, the park will host a family- and pet-friendly day outdoors that will include food trucks and games and the opportunity to learn about the space’s potential as a pedestrian plaza, as well as the potential for “transforming Congress Avenue, South Central Waterfront, and more urban public space,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

You can see the full schedule and maps of all the events here.