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Austin’s Ecological Affluence by Dean J. Almy, AIA E mbedded in an ecotone at the interface of the Balcones Escarpment and the Blackland Prairie, Austin’s geography is central to its environmental distinctiveness and urban identity. When Edwin Waller planned the city in the 1830s, he bound the grid by the banks of the Colorado River to the south, Shoal Creek to the west, Waller Creek to the east, and the planned Capitol Square to the north. From the beginning, Austin’s hilly topography and proximity to water have had profound effects on the city’s evolving architectural character. Today, as the city is facing exponential population growth and ongoing development pressure, a series of initiatives could establish Austin’s green infrastructure as the preeminent agent of a new compact and connected city. Vancouver on the Colorado In the 1960s, the character of the river’s green infrastructure was substantially changed with the construction of Longhorn Dam, which formed 54 Texas Architect 1/2 2014

Texas Architect January/February 2014: Ecologies

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