The Contemporary Austin broke ground today on the first phase of its master plan for Laguna Gloria, the 14-acre lakeside site that is home to the museum’s Marcus Sculpture Park and the historic 1916 Italianate villa, built by celebrated Texan Clara Driscoll.
The initial stage of a multi-year project, the $6 million first phase includes a complete revamp of the entrance to the grounds. The new entrance pavilion will have a visitor admissions kiosk, a retail space, an outdoor café, additional restrooms and a series of extended canopies that define shaded areas with seating for museum visitors — all amenities presently unavailable at the site.
Designed by Trahan Architects of New Orleans, the pavilion is a sleek minimalist structure steel and concrete. The new entrance will also incorporate a colorful sculptural installation by artist Jessica Stockholder into the streetscape along West 35th Street. Noted Boston-based landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand is designing the entire Laguna Gloria Master Plan.
The structure is named Moody Pavilions in honor of a $3 million grant from the Moody Foundation. The project also received donations from the Still Water Foundation, Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, Austin Community Foundation, and The O’Shaughnessy-Rivers Family Fund.
A crucial part of the current project will be creating sidewalks and formalized parking spaces along West 35th Street. With Westwood Country Club as well as Mayfield Park and Preserve also sharing the shoulder-less street, the improvements address safety concerns that have long plagued the narrow road that deadends in front of the museum’s entrance.
“We’re literally opening up walls along the new entryway, so there will be no mistake that all of Austin is welcome to enjoy the unique encounters with art and nature that can only be found at Laguna Gloria,” said Louis Grachos, executive director and CEO of the Contemporary.
Initiatives of the Master Plan for Laguna Gloria already underway elsewhere on the grounds include a significant invasive species removal project in partnership with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. For the first time in decades, there are clear sightlines to the lakeshore and native species of plants and trees are thriving.
Construction on the entrance pavilion is expected to be complete in approximately one year and the grounds will not be closed during the revamp.
See the entryway site plan here: Laguna Gloria Arrival Garden Plan