Splash! Sheffield Education Center — Education Exhibit Community Meeting (December 5, 2019) — Join Us!

Please attend the Community Meeting at Barton Springs Bathhouse this Thursday (Dec. 5, 5:30-7:30pm, BSP Bathhouse, 2201 William Barton Drive).   The meeting will provide community members with an opportunity to share their views on what Splash! Exhibit has meant to them and to help PARD identify how a revitalized exhibit space can continue to educate the next generation of visitors to Barton Springs.  As understood, the objective of the meeting is to solicit input on guiding design themes for use by interpretive planning consultant (fd2s) which is working on the education exhibit design process.

Throughout the Bathhouse Rehab project, we have emphasized the importance of making environmental education a key part of any final bathhouse design that improves the visitor experience.  Indeed, there is strong agreement that the best and only way to preserve Barton Springs is by dramatically increasing our education efforts and public outreach to our growing population to educate the citizens and local officials about the threats to the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs, and how we as a community can protect it for future generations.  While there are many, conflicting needs at the bathhouse that compete with the educational function, we want improved and updated education to be part of the bathhouse visitor/entrance space, even if other topics should also be included.  Generally speaking, this can be achieved by advocating for the following design outcomes at the meeting:

•            Including a rotating exhibit space in the design;

•            Emphasizing that exhibits should emphasize natural elements, and should not have an excessively “computer screen design” feel;

•            Including exhibits that convey pool water quality/quantity information in real time;

•            Requiring that any Art in Public Spaces have a thematic connection to the “place” or “science” of Barton Springs;

•            Including cultural and/or historic content in the exhibit design;

•            Consider using exit routes through rotunda for education opportunities;

•            Including live salamander or other native plant/animal life in the exhibit;

•            If the exhibit space will be air-conditioned, keep current/east entrance opened for pool entrance access;

•            Provide design to enable day teaching opportunities for swimmers;

•            Show status of watershed protection land acquisition of Edwards Aquifer and city’s history in acquiring development/easement rights;

•            Include stewardship opportunities for taking action, including pool behavior, conservation measures, private philanthropy, and bond support for watershed protection; and

•            Emphasizing that the educational content should, in addition, focus on the pool experience (e.g., swim experience, culture, history, etc.).

These seem like good guiding design values that leave plenty of room for design options that can be developed by the architects.

For the latest information on the Bathhouse Exhibit project, be sure to visit the city’s Sheffield Education Center Exhibit website for information on project goals and timeline for upcoming community meetings where you can join the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works Department, and other Barton Springs Stakeholders to provide input for the exhibit design process.