Professor Gary Wang
Spring 2013

The Natural History Museum at Town Lake is situated along Austin’s most cherished running trail. It houses dinosaur bones found in the Central Texas region, and takes advantage of both the urban landscape and natural features of the site. 

The exhibit area floats above the running trail and traverses the site. It is angled out towards the Long Center, an important civic building for the city of Austin, located across the water. This relationship makes reference to this becoming a place for community to come together.

The urban strategy seeks to address the different landscapes. When approached from the river, the building is seen in its entirety set against the highrises of the downtown area. When approached from the city, less than half of the building is seen; visual priority is given to nature. The building is set into a hill, and the roofs provide green space for Austin’s urban area. 

It is upon descent that the museum can be entered. The dark, lower level is set into the land and looks out directly to the river, where the aquatic dinosaurs are placed. The viewer then moves up towards sky animals, and then find themselves at the “bridge,”  where the bones can be seen from the running trail below. Copper louvers are used to protect the building from the sun, and hover over windows that frame both museum visitors and the remains of the land dinosaurs.

Site map showing the natural history museum. The exhibition area traverses the running trail, and a green space is placed for the downtown area.

South elevation showing the approach to the museum from Town Lake. The building in its entirety is seen within the context of the downtown area.

North elevation showing the approach to the museum from the downtown area. Buildings are smaller and more fragmented to allow for views to Town Lake. Nature is emphasized, and greenscape is provided for the urban area.

Section perspective showing programmatic placement within the museum.

Perspective showing placement of fenestration. To the west are small windows that frame visitors. To the east are windows that frame the dinosaurs, which sit on  glass open to the runners below.