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Lady Bird Lake Trail Restroom Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

October 25, 2011 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail Restroom in Austin, Texas, has earned national recognition in the 2011 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2). In honor of this achievement, members of the project team will be presented with awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) during a ceremony at the structure on Wednesday, October 26 at 2 pm. Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEAS2 awards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects around the country. The IDEAS2 award is the highest, most prestigious honor bestowed on building projects by the structural steel industry in the U.S.

The project team members include owner and general contractor The Trail Foundation, Austin, Texas; architect Miró Rivera Architects, Austin, Texas; structural engineer Architectural Engineers Collaborative (AISC Member), Austin, Texas.

The Lady Bird Lake Trail Restroom is a Merit award winner in the category of projects Less than $15 Million, making it one of only six projects around the country to receive the Merit honor. Each year, the IDEAS2 awards honor National and Merit award winners in three categories, based on constructed value: projects less than $15 million; projects $15 million to $75 million; and projects greater than $75 million. Each project is judged on its use of structural steel, with an emphasis on creative solutions to project requirements; design innovation; aesthetic and visual impact of the project; innovative use of architecturally exposed structural steel; technical or architectural advances in the use of steel; the use of innovative design and construction methods; and sustainable design.

The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is a linear park of scenic trails and landscaping that follows the banks of the Colorado River in downtown Austin. Very popular among runners and bike riders, the park provides residents and visitors with a rural escape in an urban setting. The Restroom – the first public restroom built in the park in more than 30 years – was built by the Town Lake Trail Foundation, a community-based non-profit organization, in partnership with Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The Restroom was conceived as a sculpture in a park, a dynamic object along the active trails. The structure consists of 49 vertical ASTM A588 weathering steel plates, each ¾ in. thick. The width and height vary significantly, from 1 ft wide by 1 ft, 6 in. tall to 2 ft wide by 13 ft tall. The panels are arranged along a spine that coils at one end to form the restroom walls. The plates are staggered in plan to control views and to allow for the penetration of light and fresh air. Both the door and roof were fabricated from ¾ -in.-thick steel plates as well.

“Talk about your innovative design,” commented Jay Schneider, editor, Building Design + Construction, and a judge in the competition.

The restroom is handicapped accessible and includes a drinking fountain and shower outside in addition to a commode, urinal, sink and bench inside. The simple building requires minimal maintenance: the plumbing fixtures are made of heavy-duty stainless steel, there is no need for artificial light or mechanical ventilation inside, and the steel panels will weather naturally over time.

The 14 IDEAS2 winners for 2011 were chosen from nearly 100 submissions received by architectural and engineering firms throughout the U.S. Each submission is reviewed and award winners are selected by a nationally recognized panel of design and construction industry professionals.

The IDEAS2 award dates back over 70 years to the earliest years of AISC’s existence. Roger E. Ferch, P.E. president of AISC, said, “The entire Lady Bird Lake Trail Restroom project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is an innovative park structure that serves its purpose extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

View high resolution images of the Lady Bird Lake Trail Restroom project in a slideshow gallery of photos available here.

Lady Bird
Photo by Paul Bardagjy Photography


For more information contact:

Tasha Weiss
Communications Department
(312) 670-5439
[email protected]


American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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