Georgetown, Texas, is a rapidly growing community and San Gabriel Park serves as the central park of Georgetown, located at the confluence of the north and south forks on the San Gabriel River. In 2015, the RVi-Austin team developed the Master Plan for the park which included stakeholder and public input as well as multiple design phases for Georgetown’s historic 100-acre San Gabriel Park. The design team successfully created and implemented Phase 1 and Phase 2 design and construction for a reimagining of the well-worn but beloved park. t the 2022 Texas American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Conference, which was held April 19-21 in San Antonio, TX, San Gabriel Park received the Texas ASLA Honor Award in the Design Constructed Projects category.
The design of San Gabriel Park was inspired by a rich history, sweeping riverside views, and 200-year-old oak trees. The RVi design team was tasked with schematic design through construction administration for a full reimagining of the park. This included restoration of three highly-degraded springs to foster the return of an endangered salamander species, design for new park amenities such as restrooms, pavilions and playgrounds, creation of a new park identity, improving park circulation and wayfinding, and working entirely within the 100-year floodplain with no net increase to the site’s overall impervious cover.
The team focused on three key goals when approaching the scope. The first goal was to create a sense of seamlessness between the built and natural environment. The springs, river and historic trees were identified as the heart of San Gabriel Park and were highlighted and referenced across all design efforts. An environmental monitoring program to sensitive areas was also implemented to enforce preservation efforts. The second goal was to enhance the park’s recreational opportunities by adding trailheads, establishing areas for picnicking and play, creating flexible spaces, and identifying the need for social interactions and educational opportunities. The third goal was to create an overall park identity that would permeate all aspects of the project.
For a project to receive an award in the Design Constructed Projects category, it must be a site-specific work of landscape architecture and urban design for built projects. Prioritizing relationships with the natural environment, the park improvements blend the built environment within the landscape, highlighted by the habitat restoration of the three springs to promote the recolonization of the endangered Georgetown Salamander. The team crafted a design solution based on natural Eurycea (a genus of Brook Salamanders) habitat, while allowing for public interaction with the sensitive environment. The result is a revitalized space amenable to both park visitors and the endangered salamander. After a 30-year absence, the species was recently confirmed at the site. San Gabriel Park has proven a crucial site for conservation of at least two Eurycea species, and the spring restoration projects were a major step forward in the study and recovery of these endangered species.
This year, RVi began design work for Phase 3 which will include a new skatepark, spray plaza, a festival lawn, and multiple pavilions. It is anticipated to open in 2024.