Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects
Byrne Construction Services
J. Robert Anderson Landscape Architecture


Occupying a 4.5-acre site overlooking Tom Miller Dam and Red Bud Isle, the LCRA Redbud Center is a three-story, 35,000-square-foot operations building surrounded by an interpretive garden. The facility houses office, training, and emergency response spaces for the Lower Colorado River Authority, a nonprofit conservation and reclamation district responsible for providing a wide range of services for communities along the lower Colorado River.


The LCRA Redbud Center exemplifies everyday architecture that goes above and beyond. The designers could have easily followed the bland, inward-looking trajectory of many infrastructure service buildings. Instead, they recognized the potential of this unique site and also created an inviting interpretive garden that educates visitors about the importance of managing and conserving water in Central Texas.

The concrete-and-glass building runs lengthwise east-to-west to minimize direct sun in the summer and maximize sunlight in the winter and houses offices, training programs, and meeting rooms that are available for public use. Workspaces are located around the perimeter to take advantage of natural light, while four cisterns on the east side store over 31,000 gallons of rainwater that is recycled in the building and gardens. Walk around the building and observe how the architecture responds to the sun in different locations. On the south façade (facing the sun), smaller windows are protected by a trellis and deep overhang. Meanwhile, the north façade, which rarely receives direct sunlight, features large expanses of glass. Also note the expressive gutters that funnel rainwater into the cisterns.

Along the north side of the center, an interpretive water feature models the six lakes and dams that make up the Highland Lakes (this helpful 5-minute audio guide provides a step-by-step interactive narrative). Limestone retaining walls terrace down to a series of educational gardens populated with native Texan flowers, shrubs, and trees.

After exploring the gardens, venture out onto the elevated walkway that ends with a spectacular view of Tom Miller Dam. After the previous granite dam collapsed in 1900 (forming the dog-friendly Red Bud Isle—on your left), construction of this concrete behemoth finally tamed the floodwaters that periodically raged through the center of Austin, destroying buildings and claiming lives. The dam’s swooping spillway marks the boundary between Lake Austin to the north and Lady Bird Lake to the south. – Bud Franck

Sustainability Highlights

  • LEED Gold (U.S. Green Building Council)
  • AEGB 4-Star (Austin Energy Green Building)
Photo Credits:

Thomas McConnell (1-5 ); Greg Hursley (6-8)