New Central Library – “Austin’s front porch” – boasts rooftop garden and more


Austin is head over heels in love with our new Central Library, a marvelous civic structure by Lake|Flato that is much more than a library. It’s a community space for all of Austin in a prime location on Cesar Chavez Street near Austin City Hall and across from Lady Bird Lake.

Since its grand opening in October, I’ve visited several times, and I’m excited to be on the team bringing Garden Bloggers Fling attendees here for our welcome reception in a private event space next May.


The library is one of the first places in Austin that our bloggers will visit, and the beautiful native-plant landscaping at street level will make a strong first impression.


This public patio along Cesar Chavez, screened from the busy street by massive block-style benches and native trees, grasses, and perennials, is adjacent to our event space — nice!


Doubles as a bouldering structure?


Inside — shazam! Floating steel stairs and wooden walkways dizzyingly change direction, Hogwarts-style, as they rise through an airy atrium.


Everywhere, an eye-candy assortment of colorful, modern chairs beckons visitors to get comfy and read.


Booths are designed for working with others, with a downtown view to boot.


Light and bright


A red “lip” chair, and beyond the red porthole window is a children’s area.


Continuing the red theme, a gigantic cuckoo clock silhouette hangs in the atrium, but instead of cuckoos the birds represent Austin’s oft-unloved grackles.


It’s accompanied by a video installation of an oversized grackle silhouette in a window-like frame. The bird’s head occasionally flicks around in a lifelike way, creating a moment of surprise.


Climbing up all 6 floors, you pass airy book stacks, meeting rooms, and reading spaces…


…like this open reading room furnished with inviting chairs and tables.


The room’s windows overlook one of the coolest spaces in the library, at least for garden lovers — the rooftop native-plant garden. Look — there’s an oak tree up there!


Yuccas, flowering perennials, and grasses flow across a mounded central planting bed, with seating all around and an L-shaped arbor for shade.


One side looks south over Lady Bird Lake and east toward downtown, offering a beautiful view.


Lady Bird Lake, with the Long Center and Palmer Events Center on the other side


Relaxing and reading in the garden


I love this space.


From the east side of the rooftop garden, you get a great view of the new 2nd Street Bridge, aka the Butterfly Bridge, which spans Shoal Creek.


Circling back around to the atrium stairs, you get another glimpse of the rooftop garden. And more lip chairs!


Another incredible space, and one that epitomizes Lake|Flato’s style, is the reading porch, just past the children’s area. An open-air space that invites readers to get out of the air conditioning and enjoy Austin’s weather, the screened porch has an enticing mix of seating, fascinating geodesic dome lights, and child-friendly valve wheels on the walls that you can spin, plus Big Ass Fans (real name) to keep readers comfortable.


Those colorful sofas. Those woven ottomans. Those lights!


This little cutie found some pinwheels.


The exterior is wonderful too, and includes a steel shade panel with laser-cut quotes about reading and books. Below that, facing pedestrian-friendly 2nd Street, is where a soon-to-open cafe, Cookbook, will offer cookbook-inspired dishes and drinks (including alcoholic beverages).


The landscaping was still being planted in late November, but the bones are in place. Update: Lake|Flato tells me that the landscape architecture firm behind the design is Coleman & Associates.


Limestone slabs create raised planting beds — and new buildings are sprouting up behind the new plants.


I like the naturalistic planting of native plants along the Shoal Creek ravine, with a nice view of the Butterfly Bridge beyond.


At dusk, the “wings” are washed with softly colored lights that segue from yellow to green to red.


A wide pedestrian sidewalk floats along the side of the bridge.


It’s a lovely, human-scaled bridge that echoes Austin’s arched Pennybacker Bridge on Loop 360.


Austin is lucky to have this magnificent public library in such a scenic part of downtown. I look forward to spending many pleasant hours here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Calling all garden bloggers! You’re invited to register for the annual Garden Bloggers Fling tour and meetup, which will be held in Austin next May 3-6, 2018! Click this link for information about registering, and you can see our itinerary here. Space is limited, so don’t delay. The 2018 Fling will be the event’s 10th anniversary, which started in Austin in 2008.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Got a cool gardening business? Austin Garden Bloggers Fling wants to partner with you!

Do you own or do marketing for a garden-related business? Would you like for garden bloggers — i.e., social media influencers — from across the U.S., Canada, and beyond to know about your products?

I’m on the planning committee for Garden Bloggers Fling, an annual 3-day meetup and garden tour for garden bloggers that will be hosted May 3-6, 2018, in Austin, Texas. We’re partnering with gardening businesses across North America to showcase those businesses to our expected 100 blogger-attendees, while helping to keep our event registration cost affordable.

If you’re interested in hearing more, please contact me. I’d be happy to tell you about our event and discuss how we can partner together! And by the way, all donations to our nonprofit organization are tax-deductible.

Here’s a little sneak peek at Austin Garden Bloggers Fling!

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Don’t miss the Austin Open Days garden tour sponsored by the Garden Conservancy on November 4.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks! Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by inspiring designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Spring Fling memories & anticipation


Gulf Coast penstemon ( Penstemon tenuis)

One year ago this week, thirty-seven garden bloggers from across the U.S. were converging on Austin for a first national meet-up we dubbed Garden Bloggers Spring Fling.


‘Bath’s Pink’ dianthus ( Dianthus gratianopolitans ‘Bath’s Pink’)

The first guest I met was Carol of May Dreams Gardens, whose wish to see “all those gardens of the Austin garden bloggers” had helped inspire the event. Click here for my impressions of Carol and pictures from Rock Rose Jenny’s stunning early-April garden.


‘Marilyn’s Choice’ abutilon

The cool, sunny, agreeable weather we’ve enjoyed this week is remarkably similar to the weather during last year’s Spring Fling, which surprises me considering how volatile central Texas weather can be. It reminds me of the pleasant weekend spent mostly outdoors at various gardens around town, showing visitors what Austin is like and finding that we all had so much in common we couldn’t stop talking for one minute. What a blast!


Silver Mediterranean fan palm ( Chamaerops humilis var.’cerifera’)

Fast-forward one year, and it’s the garden bloggers in Chicago who are working around the clock (well, I hope they’re getting some sleep) to plan Chicago Spring Fling 2009. It’s scheduled for the last weekend in May, and as the garden tours and social events are finalized my anticipation is growing.


Mexican buckeye ( Ungnadia speciosa)

I look forward to reconnecting with friends made last year in Austin, and to meeting new bloggers from across the nation. Here’s the Chicago Fling guest list so far—about 40 social-minded garden bloggers. Some of the names I know; others I don’t yet. I sure hope I have time to meet everyone, and please let there be name tags to aid memory-challenged people like myself.


Squid agave ( Agave bracteosa)

If you’re a garden blogger, are you going to be there this year?


Enough fantasizing about good times to come. Back to work, but first let me show you the growing ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave flower stalk…


…up close and personal.


And another.

Happy April!

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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