The City of Austin has been expanding westward and repurposing industrial sites of the city grid for civic, business and residential programs. As a result, the Seaholm Electrical Substation site, once at the edge of the city of Austin, was being surrounded by new civic interventions including the new Public library, the Shoal Creek park, an urban bikeway, several mixed-use development sites, and the renovated historic Seaholm Power Plant.
Under any normative condition the space of the substation, bounded by West Avenue, Shoal Creek, 2nd Street and 3rd Street, would serve as a public space-- the city’s main square mediating its social, institutional and cultural spaces. Extraordinary as it may seem, this development gained traction despite the impossibility of an occupied center. As such, the NADAAA intervention on the periphery of the substation adopts the centrifugal pull of its edges to create out of the remaining liminal spaces some idea of the public realm. The precast Power Picket project is the defining liner of this fringe space, giving definition to what is ostensibly a “terrain vague”, curiously absorbed by the onslaught of commercial development.
Varied materials, construction types, lighting and porosity engage the specific contexts abutting the substation while allowing veiled views into the substation, acknowledging the infrastructure that is required to power the City. Precast concrete columns are arrayed around the power station dissipating its electrical currents. Color dyes give variation to the cadence of the pickets, with a rotational pattern punctuating variations in light, shadow and the spaces between, delineating a middle scale.
Material Used :
1. Precast concrete
2. Cast-in-place concrete
3. Sliding engineered aluminum gates
4. Chain link galvanized “mini mesh” fabric