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St. John Encampment Commons

AUSTIN, TEXAS

Named for the annual encampments at the St. John’s Orphan Home, an African American school located on the site in the early 1900s, the park at the new ACC Highland Campus transformed a section of the former Highland Mall parking lot into a key gathering space. On a site with a long history of bringing local communities together, the park functions as part front yard, part classroom, and part performance space. It celebrates the rich history of the site while envisioning a future of environmental responsibility and social equity.

Several artful elements are critical to telling the story of the site. The graceful form of the event pavilion, designed by Agenda Architecture, recalls the tented structures of the historic St. John encampments. Offering vital escape from the intense Texas sun, it acts as both a comfortable gathering spot and a unique performance space. The installation of light poles in ACC’s striking purple color celebrates the site’s current purpose and ties this open space to Fontaine Plaza on the other side of campus. And inscribed within the pathways encircling the event lawn is a poem inspired by the site’s history, reinvention, and hope for the future.

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