Serving as Austin’s most cherished community arts center for 40 years, the mission of the Dougherty Arts Center (DAC) is to support emerging through established artists who create, showcase, and experience the arts first-hand. However, the more than 70-year-old former U.S. Navy and Marine reserve facility that houses the art center was deemed “beyond repair” by a 2010 needs assessment.

Rebuilding the aging, flood-prone building is not an option because the site sits on landfill and is within the 25-year flood plain. Seeking a new place to call home, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department retained the services of the RVi team, including Barbara Austin, Dennis Tonsor, and Wes Gentry, along with Jonathan Pearson of Studio8 Architects. Our team was charged with creating programming study and conceptual site plans for the redevelopment of the DAC, including a potential move to a site near Butler Shores.

Creating “an emerging arts district on the South-Central Waterfront,” the parks department, RVi, and Studio8 outlined a more detailed vision for the center’s move to the Butler Shores parkland site on Toomey Road directly west of the existing Zach Theater complex.

As of Thursday, May 9th, the Austin City Council has approved the move and voted to instruct the Parks and Recreation Department to move forward with preparing a design for the new site. The move already won support of four City advisory boards: Planning Commission, Arts Commission, Design Commission, and the Parks and Recreation Board.

The Dougherty Arts Center has been a treasure for the Austin community for decades – even RVi President Chris Crawford has taken watercolor classes there. We’re excited to have the opportunity to shape the next era for this beloved facility and to provide the vision for a new arts district where all can gather to create community through the arts.